Nov. 14, 2019 — Retired Air Force Col. Lisa Carrington Firmin, associate vice president for veteran and military affairs at UTSA, has been appointed to serve as a special government employee member of the Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Since its creation in 1994, the committee has advised the secretary of veterans affairs on the VA’s effectiveness in delivering and administering benefits, programs and services to minority veterans. Members reviews reports and studies pertaining to compensation, health care, rehabilitation, outreach and other VA benefit programs before submitting their findings and recommendations in a biannual report to the secretary. The committee’s work focuses on five distinct minority veteran populations: Hispanic/Latin Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, Pacific Islander Americans and Native Americans.
“This is quite an honor for me, and also the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs and UTSA,” Firmin said. “I will have the opportunity to impact policy, research and initiatives that affect veterans across the country, specifically minority veterans. It’s a platform where a difference can be made at the national level.”
“I will have the opportunity to impact policy, research and initiatives that affect veterans across the country, specifically minority veterans.”
—LISA CARRINGTON FIRMIN
Firmin retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel and its most senior-ranking Latina officer. She currently coordinates and integrates support services at the strategic level for the nearly 5,000 UTSA veteran and military-connected students. Since her arrival at UTSA in 2010, Firmin has been instrumental in the creation of many pioneering programs to enhance the academic experience for military-affiliated and other underserved student populations.
Most recently Firmin led the charge to consolidate all veteran support services under one department with the creation of the Center for Military Affiliated Students, located in the John Peace Library. She also spearheaded other initiatives to support veterans on campus, such as priority registration, an online certification process, and Veteran and Military Orientation for new UTSA students from within the military community. New scholarships for veterans, active duty, guard/reserve, ROTC and military family members will be rolled out in the spring 2020 semester, due in no small part to the efforts of Firmin’s team.
In her previous role as UTSA’s associate provost for faculty/student diversity and recruitment, Firmin was the founder of the prestigious UTSA Top Scholar program, developed the first presidential-level Distinguished Diversity Awards program for students, faculty and staff, and championed the addition of gender identity and gender expression to the university’s nondiscrimination policy. Among several matters, Firmin would like to see the VA expand its definition of minority veterans to include the LGBTQ veteran community. She was drawn to the VA’s Advisory Committee on Minority Veterans because of the potential for positive change and its reputation for making impactful strategies and changes in VA policy and law that impact minority veterans.
Firmin added that now that she is on the advisory committee, the VA can become a greater benefit for UTSA. “This is a Hispanic-Serving Institution and we have a lot of minority veterans here. I can take their feedback and channel it all the way up to the secretary of the VA,” Firmin said. “What more could you ask for?”
Through Firmin’s leadership, UTSA has consistently ranked among the top 10 most military friendly schools in the nation by Victory Media and has been named a Best for Vets university for 2020 by Military Times.
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