Past Chairs of the Committee

Rep. Edith Nourse Rogers (R-MA) 1881-1960, served with the American Red Cross from 1917-1922. She was appointed a personal representative of President Harding in the care of disabled veterans in 1922. She was elected to the 69th Congress to fill the vacancy created by the death of her husband, John Jacob Rogers, and served until 1960. She chaired the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 1947-1948 and 1953-1954.

 

Rep. William Jennings Bryan Dorn (D-SC) 1916-2005, served in the South Carolina House and Senate before serving with the U.S. Army Air Corps in the European Theater of World War II. He served in the House from 1947-1948 and from 1951 to 1974. He was chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs from 1973-1974.

Rep. John Elliott Rankin (D-MS), 1882-1960, practiced law in Mississippi and served in the U.S. Army during World War I. He was elected to the 67th Congress in 1921 and served in the House until 1952. He chaired the Committee on Veterans' Affairs from 1949-1952.

Rep. Herbert Ray Roberts (D-TX) 1913-1992, was a U.S. Navy officer in both the Pacific and European Theaters of World War II. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict. First elected during a special 1962 election, he was re-elected nine times and served in the House until 1980. He chaired the Veterans' Affairs Committee from 1975-1980.

Rep. Olin Teague (D-TX) 1910-1981, received the Silver Star with two clusters, the Bronze Star, and two Purple Hearts serving with the U.S. Army in World War II. He entered the House through a special election in 1946 and was re-elected 16 times, serving until 1978. He chaired the Committee on Veterans' Affairs from 1955-1972.

Rep. Gillespie V. (Sonny) Montgomery (D-MS) 1920-2006, was awarded the Bronze Star and other decorations while serving with the U.S. Army in the European Theater of World War II. Recalled to active duty during the Korean conflict, he became a major general with the Mississippi National Guard. He served in the House from 1967-1996, and as chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee from 1981-1994.

Rep. Bob Stump (R-AZ) 1927-2003, joined the U.S. Navy at the age of 16 and served in the Pacific Theater of World War II. After graduation from high school and college he worked as a cotton farmer and served in the Arizona legislature until elected to Congress in 1976. He was chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs from 1995-2000.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) 1953-, is the son of a World War II veteran. After graduating from Trenton State College in 1975 with a degree in Business Administration, he worked with his family's sporting goods wholesale business. He successfully ran for Congress in 1980 at the age of 27, and has served on the House Veterans' Affairs Committee for all 21 years of his congressional service. From 1995-2001, Rep. Smith served as Vice Chairman of the Committee, and was elevated to Full Committee chairman in January 2001 when former Chairman Bob Stump assumed the gavel of the Armed Services Committee. Rep. Smith served as Chairman of the Committee from 2001-2004.

Steve Buyer Rep. Steve Buyer (R-IN) 1958-, has served in the U.S. Army Reserve since 1980, including a tour of duty in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. Graduated in 1980 from The Citadel, and in 1984 from Valperaiso University Law School. First elected to Congress in 1992. Served as Chairman of the Committee on Veterans Affairs from  2005-2006.

 

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) 1942-, was a professor at San Diego State University from 1970-1992 and also served on the San Diego Board of Education and the San Diego City Council. He participated in the Freedom Rides of 1961, spending two months in a Mississippi jail for his efforts. He served as the acting ranking member of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 2006 and was elected as Chairman of the Committee in 2007. He served as the Chairman of the Committee from 2007-2010.

The Evolution
of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs

Jurisdiction over veterans' legislation went through a number of changes from the establishment of the Committee on Claims in 1794 to the creation of the present-day Committee on Veterans' Affairs following enactment of the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (P.L. 79-601). Committees with jurisdiction over veterans' legislation at various times have included Pensions and Revolutionary Claims, Military Pensions, Invalid Pensions, and World War Veterans' Legislation, all abolished by the 1946 law.