PEMBROKE — When it comes to protecting the interests of Robeson County’s veterans, Pembroke resident Harold Hunt is well-positioned, having recently been appointed to serve on the national committee that advises the U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Congress on issues of importance to minority veterans.
Hunt is serving his first two-year term as the representative for American Indians on the Advisory Committee for Minority Veterans. In that position he not only represents the Lumbee Tribe, of which he is a member, but also the interests of American Indians across the country.
“This committee looks at anything that touches the lives of minority veterans,” Hunt said. “By law, we have to meet at least two times a year in Washington. We also make site visits to veterans medical centers across the country, and while on these visits hold town-hall-type meetings to listen to the concerns of veterans.”
Hunt, a disabled Vietnam veteran who received the Purple Heart, said he has been an advocate for veterans since 1977. He served as director of veterans affairs for Robeson County from 2000 to 2003 and is a former veterans affairs services officer for the Lumbee Tribe. Over the years he has worked closely with the Veterans Affairs medical center in Fayetteville and other VA medical centers around the country.
Hunt has served on U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre’s Advisory Committee on Military and Veterans Concerns, and was a driving force behind an 11-year effort that resulted in a VA community-based outpatient clinic opening in Pembroke in January 2011.
‘There are a lot of veterans in this county pleased that I sit on this board,” Hunt said. “They know that I have their best interest at heart.”
Both state Rep. Charles Graham and state Sen. Michael Walters recommended that Hunt be appointed to the advisory committee that was created in 1994 to represent all minority veterans. The committee’s responsibilities include: advising the Veterans Affairs secretary and Congress on the administration of benefits to minority veterans, providing an annual report to Congress making recommendations and outlining concerns and observations concerning how benefits are delivered to minority veterans, making periodic site visits and holding town-hall meetings and meeting with VA officials.
Hunt, who served as a light infantryman and military police officer, said his military experience helps him understand the needs of veterans. He also has served as a post and district commander for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, is a member of the Lumbee Warriors Association and National Association of County and Tribal Services and holds accreditation granted by the General Counsel Department of Veterans Affairs.
“It’s a real honor to serve on this committee,” said Hunt, who attended his first three-day meeting of the committee last month in Washington. “I didn’t believe such a thing could happen to me. I’m just a little country boy and member of a tribe that has just state and not federal recognition.”