175 Makers of History: Joseph Maxwell "Max" Cleland

Joseph Maxwell "Max" Cleland 68G 79H
U.S. Senator; Administrator of U.S. Veterans Affairs

Max Cleland

After completing a year toward a master's degree in history from Emory, Joseph Maxwell "Max" Cleland went on active duty in the U.S. Army in 1965.

He was wounded in Vietnam and spent eighteen months in military and VA hospitals, ultimately testifying before the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs about his rehabilitation and the problems faced by veterans of the Vietnam War.

He returned to Georgia and was elected to the State Senate in 1970, serving two terms. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter appointed Cleland head of the Veterans Affairs where he remained until 1981. Following that appointment, he returned to Georgia to serve first as Secretary of State, then as U.S. Senator. In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission.