Max Cleland, a former U.S. senator and former leader of the Veterans Administration, died Tuesday at the age of 79.
Born in Atlanta, Cleland was a Georgia Democrat, but prior to his political career served in the United States Army in the Vietnam War. While in Vietnam, he lost his legs and one arm in a grenade explosion. He earned a Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions in combat.
Cleland served in the Georgia Senate from 1971 to 1975 and became an advocate for veterans affairs. Under President Jimmy Carter, he served as the administrator of the United States Veterans Administration. Cleland served in the U.S. Senate from 1997 to 2003.
Cleland reportedly died from heart failure.
U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., released a statement upon Cleland’s death.
“The nation has lost a true giant of public service, and Georgia has lost one of our fiercest champions,” Warnock said. “My prayers are with Senator Cleland’s family and all those who loved him. Senator Cleland was a passionate patriot with a big heart for our veterans, and he always put the people of Georgia first. Georgians will long remember and admire his honorable life, legacy and contributions to our state and nation.”