Press Release

Contact: Mokie Pratt Porter, Communications Director 202-628-2700 Ext. 146

VIETNAM VETERAN NAMED ACTING SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 2, 1997) Vietnam Veterans of America, the nation's only congressionally chartered Vietnam veterans organization, is proud of President Clinton's December 2 announcement that Togo D. West, Jr., a veteran who served during the Vietnam War, will be appointed Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs effective January 2, 1998.

"The veterans health-care system is at a critical juncture," said George C. Duggins, Vietnam Veterans of America's national president, "because it faces some major reorganizational challenges. Adjudication of benefits also is in need of major review. We look forward to working with Mr. West to address these issues."

VVA does extensive work with the VA on issues of special concern to Vietnam veterans, such as Agent Orange and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. VVA was a leading proponent in initiating a unique program of benefits for the spina bifida-afflicted children of herbicide-exposed Vietnam veterans. VA began the program October 1. "We are hopeful that Togo West's extensive background with the federal government and the military will provide a good base for administering these programs," Duggins noted. "It is critical to veterans--both as federal beneficiaries and as taxpayers--that improvements in VA's effectiveness and efficiency be made."

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is dedicated to the 8.2 million Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans to assist disabled and needy veterans of all eras and their dependents, and also the widows and orphans of deceased veterans. VVA's founding principle is "Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."



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