Jimmy Carter photo

Administrator of Veterans Affairs - Nomination of Max Cleland.

February 18, 1977

The President today announced his intention to nominate Max Cleland to be Administrator of Veterans Affairs. Cleland is a former Georgia State Senator and currently a staff member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs.

Cleland was born in Atlanta on August 24, 1942, and grew up in Lithonia, Ga. He graduated from Stetson University in Deland, Fla., in 1964 and won a scholarship to Emory University, where he received an M.A. in American history.

In the fall of 1965, Cleland went on active duty with the United States Army as a communications officer in the Signal Corps. He qualified in 1966 as a paratrooper and became aide-de-camp to the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Signal Center and School at Fort Monmouth, N.J.

In 1967 he volunteered for duty in Vietnam and for 11 months served with the First Air Cavalry Division. He was promoted to captain in April 1968, and shortly thereafter was wounded in a grenade explosion.. He received the Bronze and Silver Stars for his Vietnam service.

After 18 months in military and veterans hospitals, Cleland returned to Lithonia, Ga., and was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1970. He was the author of the first legislation making public buildings in the State accessible to the handicapped. He also authored legislation authorizing State educational assistance for veterans attending school under the GI bill.

In 1972 Cleland was appointed by then Coy. Jimmy Carter to head a special commission established to study the problems of veterans returning to Georgia after service in Vietnam. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 1974, finishing third in a field of 10 candidates in the Democratic primary.

In March 1975, Cleland became a full-time member of the professional staff on the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs after serving since 1972 on the national advisory council to that committee.

Cleland was selected as one of the Five Outstanding Young Men in Georgia by the Georgia Jaycees in 1969. In 1973 he was named the Outstanding Handicapped Citizen in Georgia and was awarded the Georgia Easter Seal Society Award of Gallantry. In 1975 he was named an Outstanding Disabled Veteran by the New York Department of Disabled American Veterans.

Jimmy Carter, Administrator of Veterans Affairs - Nomination of Max Cleland. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/242232