Paralyzed Veterans of America is mourning the loss of veterans champion and former national executive director of Paralyzed Veterans, Gordon H. Mansfield. Mansfield passed away during surgery yesterday at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. He was 71.
“Gordon was a trailblazer for veterans and all people with disabilities,” said Bill Lawson, U.S. Army veteran and national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America. “Leaders like him have made it possible for people who use wheelchairs to serve in some of the highest offices in our land. His legacy will live on and continue to inspire the work we do every day on behalf of veterans with disabilities. He will be greatly missed.”
The Hon. Gordon H. Mansfield was acting U.S. secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) from October to December 2007 and deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the Department of Veterans Affairs from 2004 until 2009. Prior to this, he served as VA assistant secretary for congressional and legislative affairs.
Before joining VA, Mansfield served as executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America from 1993 to 2000. He first joined Paralyzed Veterans’ staff in 1981 in the legislative program. In November 1982 he was named Paralyzed Veterans’ national advocacy director, and in 1986 he became the organization’s first associate executive director of its Government Relations Department. In these positions, he participated in the strengthening of civil rights for people with disabilities and the improvement of programs, benefits and services for our nation’s veterans.He also served as assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity at the Department of Housing and Urban Development from 1989 to 1993 under President George H.W. Bush. Mansfield received his undergraduate degree from Villanova University and law degree from the University of Miami, and had practiced law in Ocala, Fla. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1964 and served two tours of duty in Vietnam. His military decorations include the Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and the Presidential Unit Citation. Mansfield was inducted into the Army Ranger Hall of Fame in 2007 and the U.S. Officer Candidate School Hall of Fame in 1997 at Ft. Benning, Ga. He also received the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service, the Presidential Distinguished Service Award, the Robert Dole Service to Our Nation Award and Disabled American Veterans Outstanding Disabled Veteran of the Year Award and was inducted into the Spinal Cord Injury Hall of Fame.