Vietnam Vets Congratulate VA Sec. Brown for a Job Well Done

WASHINGTON, D.C. - June 9, 1997 - Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) national president George Duggins extended the organization's gratitude and respect today to retiring Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown. "It is with great sadness that we have learned of your resignation," Duggins said. "Your leadership and advocacy have helped to carry the veterans community and the agency through a very challenging time and across many obstacles. You will be missed!"

Noting that until Brown's administration the VA had not fully embraced the veterans service organizations as true partners in providing the best possible service to our nation's veterans, VVA recognized major improvements in communication. "Because you came from the veterans community, you were able to recognize the veterans service organizations as an asset to the agency." VA's accomplishments during Brown's administration are numerous and significant, demonstrating an activist agenda.

"For VVA, there are several priority issues which we feel could not have been adequately addressed without your strong leadership, support, and initiative," Duggins detailed in a June 9 letter. "The advancements in benefits for Vietnam veterans afflicted with Agent Orange-related conditions is a prime example. Enactment of the landmark spina bifida benefits package could not have been achieved so quickly without the initiative VA demonstrated in researching, seeking VSO input, and developing the legislative proposal which became public law. We truly believe that this process demonstrated government initiative at its finest." VVA considers this initiative to be one of its finest advocacy accomplishments in recent years.

VVA executive director Rick Schultz described Brown's accomplishments as a framework for further advancements by the next Secretary. "VVA truly believes that you [Sec. Brown] have set the VA on a new course and have laid the groundwork for the future. We respect the difficulties you must have faced in changing many of the practices and collective mind set of the agency -- but you did it. We are confident that your successor will be better placed to lead the VA into the 21st Century because of all you have done to facilitate progressive change."

Duggins thanked Brown for all the years of service he has contributed to the veterans community in his post as Secretary for Veterans Affairs and as a veterans service organization advocate prior to 1993. VVA wishes Secretary Brown well in his future endeavors.

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