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January / February 2008

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
Thirty More Years

BY JOHN ROWAN
It seems to be the season for celebrating milestones. Near the end of 2007, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Last September, I joined with my former colleagues in commemorating the 40th anniversary of the creation of the 6990th Security Squadron and the initiation of “Combat Apple,” which was the first use of the RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft in combat operations.

The pictures below were taken at the reunion. Its large nose distinguished the RC-135, like its earlier cousin, the RC-130. The POW/MIA symbol in the photo only can be seen when the exit hatch is opened, but it is nice to see that our active-duty personnel remember.

On a more personal note, Mariann and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary on January 1st. Time flies when you’re having fun.

VVA will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this year in conjunction with the Leadership Conference in Greenville, S.C. All chapters and State Councils should begin making their travel arrangements now.

While we are reminiscing about our history, it is good to know that the Veterans of Modern Warfare will be creating theirs by holding their first convention in Greenville at the same time.

While I wasn’t around in 1978 when Bobby Muller organized the Council of Vietnam Veterans, VVA’s predecessor, I did help organize Chapter 32, which had its first meeting in September of 1981, and I had the privilege of being the New York State Council’s first treasurer in 1982. This was a very easy job: we had no money.

We’ve come a long way since those early days. We can be proud of our successes, such as keeping and expanding the Vet Centers, the automatic presumption of service connection for certain Agent Orange-related illnesses, compensation for veterans’ children with spina bifida, the general public’s understanding of PTSD, and, perhaps most of all, the change in public perception that has allowed the nation’s newest veterans to come home to a supportive community.

But there is much that needs to be done, such as insuring that all veterans are aware of the effects of their military service on their health and, therefore, their possible entitlement to compensation and healthcare. I hope we get another thirty years to complete our agenda.

 

 

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