College to Hold 1st Annual Veteran’s Day Speakers Forum 

Vietnam War Hero Senator Max Cleland to Speak

Release Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 4 p.m.


PHILADELPHIA, PA – Sen. Max Cleland, Vietnam War hero and author, will be the guest speaker at Chestnut Hill College’s first annual Veteran’s Day Speakers Forum on Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 4 p.m. in the Social Room, Fournier Hall. Chestnut Hill College is located at 9601 Germantown Avenue in Philadelphia. The Chestnut Hill College Veteran’s Day Speakers Forum is co-sponsored by Chestnut Hill College and the Fulbright Association Delaware Valley chapter, presented by the Chestnut Hill College Lecture Committee, and organized by the Chestnut Hill College Department of Communications.

Cleland will speak about his recent book, “Heart of a Patriot: How I Found the Courage to Survive Vietnam, Walter Reed and Karl Rove” (Simon & Schuster, 2009) examining the impact post-traumatic stress disorder will have on soldiers as they return home from service to their country. Following the forum, Cleland will be available to answer questions and to sign copies of his book, which will be available for purchase at the event.

Cleland’s distinguished military and political career began at Stetson University, where he graduated with his undergraduate degree in 1964 and was a member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. He went on to receive a Master's degree from Emory University.

Cleland served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War, attaining the rank of captain, and was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star for valorous action in combat. On April 8, 1968, Captain Cleland was the Battalion Signal Officer for the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division during the Battle of Khe Sanh.

After returning from the war, Cleland served from 1971 to 1975 in the Georgia Senate, and became an advocate for veteran’s affairs. He was the administrator of the United States Veterans Administration under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, and served 14 years as Secretary of the State of Georgia from 1982 to 1996, working closely with his future Senate colleague, Zell Miller.

Cleland was one of 29 Senate Democrats who backed the authorization to go to war in Iraq. He later stated he had misgivings about the Bush administration's stance, but said he felt pressure to go along with it while in a tight senate race. Cleland was originally appointed to serve on the 9/11 Commission but resigned shortly thereafter, claiming that the Bush administration was "stonewalling" and blocking the committee's access to key documents and witnesses.

In 2003, Cleland began working for the 2004 presidential campaign of Massachusetts senator John Kerry, also a Vietnam veteran who went on to win the Democratic nomination. Cleland often appeared at campaign events with Kerry, and was considered by many to be one of his most important surrogates, partly as a symbol of the sacrifices made by soldiers for wars. On July 29, 2004, Cleland introduced Kerry with a speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Cleland's official senatorial papers are held by the University of Georgia's Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, where his Veterans Administration papers are held in the Carter Center. In 2007, Cleland donated a large collection of Vietnam and personal political memorabilia to the library of Stetson University. The Cleland Collection includes more than 500 memorabilia items, more than 4,500 photos, and hundreds of CDs, DVDs, videos, and films.

In May of 2009, Cleland was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the next Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.

The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Kimberley Leahy, M.B.A., Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of the communications department at 215.753.3601 or email