IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release

August 1, 2001

No. 01-14 
301 585-4000
Cell:  301-996-8554   
Contact: Jim Greene


FOUR VETERANS RECEIVE HUMANITARIAN AWARD AT VVA CONVENTION


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.

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Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered veterans service organization dedicated solely to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.  VVA's founding principle is 
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."   

 

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