IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 

September 14, 2001

No. 01-23 
301 585-4000
Contact: Jim Greene


AN OPEN LETTER FROM VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, ASSOCIATES OF VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA, AND VIETNAM VETERANS ASSISTANCE FUND


Our fellow Americans:

On that day long ago when we took that step forward, raised our right hand and swore to preserve, protect, and defend the constitution of the United States of America we embarked on a lifetime In Service To America.

Over the decades our families and friends have joined with us in this pledge to serve our communities, and help our neighbors in their time of need.  

Like each of you we have watched the terrible images from New York City and The Pentagon over the last several days with a mix of sadness, shock, grief, and anger. Our families, children, friends, and others witnessed the same tragedy, and they join with us in a demonstration of solidarity and strength. The American spirit is wounded, but intact.  

As Vietnam veterans the horrible scenes we have witnessed brought back a tide of painful memories, challenging us to confront our pasts as we peer into an uncertain future. As veterans we too were buoyed and watched with a sense of pride at the selfless heroics demonstrated by rescue workers. Fire, Police, and military personnel all raced into the face of danger without regard for their own safety to do their jobs and protect the lives of our fellow citizens. 

Many of them have been lost, and their families are left to deal with the aftermath. As veterans and families we know this feeling of loss better than many. The sense of loss is overwhelming, and only the love and comfort of others will help to fill the hole in their lives.

Many of those who have been lost are from our family of veterans, and our core principles compel us to act in support of their memory by reaching out to assist their families. 

As individuals and as an organization we have never failed to respond to the call for action. Whether it has been in a campaign to educate our representatives about a particular piece of legislation, or to support recovery efforts following floods, fires, and other natural disasters. Through the years VVA and AVVA members have always answered calamity and misfortune with determination, fortifying our commitment to the four simple words that define our duty: In Service To America. 

Thousands of you have donated blood, or made donations to the American Red Cross. So many in fact that many blood centers across the country have exceeded capacities for blood storage and are unable to contend with the flood of volunteers. The Red Cross has received tens of thousands of cash donations to assist with the relief effort, and web sites are clogged with offers of assistance. 

As always our members and their families are ready to help.

In 1995 when the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building in Oklahoma City was destroyed by a terrorist attack, VVA dispatched members who were trained in stress and trauma counseling to assist with the recovery. This is who we are. 

The heroic efforts of the New York Fire Department, New York Police Department, and Department of Defense rescue teams remind us of the unselfish courage of our comrades during the war, and console us.  

Our mission as citizens and veterans is to answer the call to service. 

With that in mind we have joined together to pledge $2000 each from VVA, AVVA, and VVAF to create a relief fund for the families of the fire, police, and military personnel who have been lost.

We encourage chapters and state councils across the country that wish to help to please join us, In Service To America. Send your contributions to:

International Association of Fire Fighters,
1750 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006

New York Fraternal Order of Police Fund
911 Police Plaza
c/o Robert Lucente
Hicksville, NY 11801  

Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund
FEEA World Trade Center / Pentagon Fund
8441 W. Bowles Ave., Ste 200
Littleton, CO 80123-9501

Specify that the contribution is for Disaster Relief 

Thomas H. Corey, President
VVA

Nancy S. Switzer, President
AVVA

Randy Barnes, President
VVAF

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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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