FOUR VETERANS RECEIVE HUMANITARIAN AWARD AT
Vietnam Veterans of America honored four of its own
during the 2001 Chapel of the Four Chaplains Ceremony at the organization’s
tenth National Convention, August 2, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
They are: Joseph (Randy) Barnes, Robert V. Palasch, Rev.
Philip G. Salois, and Michael A. Weber.
Paul L. Sutton, national liaison and trustee for the
chaplain group, said each man possesses unusual and interesting qualities that
led to him receiving the 2001 Humanitarian Award.
Barnes from Kansas City, Missouri, is a founding member
of VVA Chapter 317 in Kansas City.
He was a combat medic in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.
In 1968 after returning from Vietnam, Barnes organized and led “rap
groups” which focused on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and worked to
gain recognition for damage done to veterans and their children from exposure
to Agent Orange. He also was a
founding member of the National POW/MIA Committee and went to Vietnam and
Cambodia in 1989 as a member of the Veterans’ Delegation on Humanitarian
Issues. He is currently a VVA
Director At-Large, and President of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund.
Palasch, from Medford, Oregon is a retired Marine
Sergeant Major who served three tours in South Vietnam.
He is the first person to receive the award posthumously.
Palasch died this May of cancer resulting from his exposure to Agent
Orange. Palasch spent over 10
years as an advocate for disabled and homeless veterans in southern Oregon.
He also was primarily responsible for the Southern Oregon Stand Down,
which became a nationally recognized event assisting homeless veterans. He was
a 1998 recipient of The Chapel’s Legion of Honor Award and a 1997 recipient
of The Oregon Commendation Medal.
Father Philip G. Salois, from Newtonville, Massachusetts
is both a warrior and healer. Salois
spent six years in the U.S. Army including a tour in South Vietnam where he
earned a host of medals including the Silver Star and the Combat
Infantryman’s Badge. He was
ordained a priest in 1984 and 10 years later became the National Chaplain of
VVA, a position he holds today.
He has received dozens of awards and honors over the
years serving veterans and underserved citizens.
He also is the founder and president of the National Conference of
Vietnam Veteran Ministers.
Michael A. Weber, from Miami Beach, Florida, is a
combat veteran who served with the 101st Airborne Division in South
Vietnam. Weber, a homeless veteran in the late 1980s and early 1990s was able
to use that experience to assist other homeless veterans.
As an official VA volunteer, he now assists clinical outreach teams to
contact homeless veterans on the streets.
Since 1993, he has served with the Miami VA Health Care for Homeless
Veterans. According to the VA,
Weber is primarily responsible for the success of the Bayside Residence and
has helped carry out program rules, which serve as effective guidelines for
the residents in that facility.
The Chapel of Four
Chaplains is a national organization, founded in 1947, that recognizes and
encourages cooperation, brotherhood, and selfless service.
It memorializes the four Army chaplains who gave their life jackets to
others when the troopship Dorchester was torpedoed on February 3, 1943.