Danielle Applegate Corazza, VetsFirst
As a Camp Lejeune dependent and veteran, Danielle was instrumental in providing subject matter expertise on the Camp Lejeune Community Action Panel, which provided guidance and intense advocacy in developing and passing the Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, the groundbreaking first law to require healthcare coverage for dependents sickened by DoD contamination. The larger victory came a few months later, when the Department of Veterans Affairs recognized eight Camp Lejeune diseases for presumptive service connection. She continues her efforts serving the veteran community as the lead executive of a 70 year old nationally-accredited veteran service organization, VetsFirst, which focuses on policy, advocacy, and direct services to support veterans with disabilities, and their families and caregivers.
Jeremy Butler, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
Jeremy Butler serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), which provides advocacy, public awareness and 1-on-1 case-management support. Their policy agenda includes a focus on homelessness, veteran employment, equality, service dogs, and a national memorial for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans, among other issues. Current advocacy priorities include combatting Veteran suicide, recognizing and supporting women Vets, defending the GI Bill, reforming the VA, driving support and recognition of burn pit exposure, and empowering wounded Veterans to utilize medical cannabis. Butler joined IAVA in 2015 as a Senior Military Fellow, bringing 15+ years of experience providing substantive and strategic counsel to leaders in high-profile government and private sector offices, to include the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security. In 2018 he became IAVA’s Chief Operations Officer, before being selected as CEO in 2019. He is a graduate of Knox College and the U.S. Naval War College, where he received a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. He is also a Surface Warfare Officer and a Commander in the Navy Reserves with nearly 20 years of uniformed service.
Jan Brown, AMVETS
Jan joined the Air Force in 1973 when only two percent of soldiers were women. She expected to serve no more than six years in the military, but she gained strength and thrived until she retired after 27 years. Jan’s Military Occupational Specialty jobs were a Medical Lab Tech, an Aero-Medical Evacuation Technician for C-130, and Recruiter with the Air Reserve Recruiting office. In April 1975, Jan was part of the Baby Lift Operation in Vietnam. This operation was a mass evacuation of orphans to Clark Air Force Base, Pampanga, Philippines. The babies arrived in cardboard boxes where Jan and her team cared for them until they were adopted.
After her Air Force career, she joined AMVETS and began to rise through the ranks, holding a number of critical leadership positions. Jan served as AMVETS National First Vice Commander, National Second Vice Commander, the first-ever National Third Vice Commander, National Credential Chairperson for 20 years, a trustee on the Ohio Service Foundation, numerous years as Post 44-OH Commander, and Commissioner of the Mahoning County Veterans Service Commission. Jan Brown was elected National Commander during the 2019 AMVETS National Convention. Commander Brown lives in Boardman, Ohio, with her husband J.P. Brown.
David Zurfluh, Paralyzed Veterans of America
David Zurfluh is the national president of Paralyzed Veterans of America, serving his third consecutive one-year term. He travels extensively throughout the country advocating for and serving Paralyzed Veterans of America. A member of the U.S. Air Force from 1987 to 1995, Zurfluh served as a jet engine mechanic and a crew chief in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. While on active duty in April 1995, he was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Japan. He suffered a shattered left arm, broken left wrist and a broken neck, and was diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia. Zurfluh became a member of PVA in 1995, after two national service officers assisted him. Once he completed his three-year rehabilitation, he began volunteering with PVA in the Northwest, determined to make it his life’s mission to help veterans with spinal cord injury, disorders, and related diseases like MS and ALS. He held chapter-level positions as legislative director, vice president, president, and was a member of the sports committee, and national senior vice president prior to his election as national president.
BJ Lawrence, Veterans of Foreign Wars
BJ Lawrence was elected for the year 2018 to be the National Commander of the VFW, one of the oldest veteran service organizations in the U.S. Lawrence is an Army veteran who served in South Korea from 1983-1986. The VFW provides numerous services to veterans and their families, and BJ has been with the organization for more than 19 years, filling leadership roles at all levels of the organization. BJ himself has testified before Congress on many issues, including leading the push to get Blue Water Vietnam Navy veterans the benefits they have earned for service in Vietnam. Many of these veterans are facing severe medical problems related to exposure to Agent Orange, and the VFW, in coordination with other VSO’s, was instrumental in getting medical benefits for them. BJ also was instrumental in working with the VA to roll out the implementation of the VA MISSION Act of 2018, which allowed veterans to access medical care if they live in underserved communities.
Melissa Bryant, American Legion
Melissa Bryant is a noted veteran and military advocate-leader with 20 years of experience in government, military, and non-profit work. She is currently the National Legislative Director for The American Legion and represents the interests of nearly two million members to Congress. She previously served as the Chief Policy Officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). A former Army Captain and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran, Melissa has delivered oral and written testimonies before Congress and Administration, as well as conducted interviews on CNN, NPR, CBS Radio, PBS NewsHour, C-SPAN, Washington Journal, MSNBC, HLN, local television, and various publications in service to veterans, military families, and national security.