Democratic Senator from Georgia
Senator Cleland was born in Atlanta in 1942 and grew up in Lithonia. Clelan atttended Phillips Academy, Andover, then Stetson University where he joined the Army's ROTC program and majored in History. After graduation from Stetson he became a Second Lieutenant in the Army and went on to earn a Masters Degree in American History from Emory University.
Cleland received airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia and was an Aide de Camp to the Commanding General of the Army Signal School at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, before volunteering for duty in Vietnam in 1967. On April 8, 1968, he was seriously wounded in a grenade explosion on of that year, costing him both legs and his right arm, just shortly after he had been promoted to the rank of Captain. Cleland returned home just one month prior to the end of his duty, and spent the next year and a half recovering from his injuries in various Army and Veterans Administration hospitals. He has since been awarded the Bronze Star and Silver Star for service in Vietnam.
Cleland spoke before the United States Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on the difficulties of veterans returning from Vietnam in 1969, before being elected to the Georgia State Senate. While in the state senate he wrote legislation mandating handicap access to state facilities.
In 1975 he went to work for the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Two years later President Jimmy Carter appointed him to lead the US Veterans Administration, making him the youngest person to ever lead that organization and the first Vietnam Veteran.
In 1982 Georgia voters made Cleland the youngest Secretary of State. In 1995 he retired from his position to run for retiring Senator Sam Nunn’s seat which he won in 1997.
Cleland is the author of two books, Going for the Max! 12 Principles for Living Life to the Fullest
, and Strong at the Broken Places
, which described his experiences in Vietnam and his recovery from his wounds.
His website and contact info is at www.senate.gov/~cleland