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January / February 2008

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Membership Notes / Ask The Parliamentarian / Veterans Incarcerated / Taps / AVVA Report / AVVA Election / AVVA Scholarship / Project Friendship / ETABO Report / Public Affairs Report / VVAF / Veterans Against Drugs / National Secretary's Report / Women Veterans / Letters / Arts of War / Book Review / The Locator / Reunions

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Veteran Cover

2008 marks the thirtieth anniversary of Vietnam Veterans of America. Originally conceived without thought to membership, VVA was organized as a guerilla force to storm the halls of Congress on behalf of the nation’s veterans of the Vietnam War. But the intended targets repeatedly asked, “How many people do you represent? How large is your membership?”

In this issue, we profile the first thirty chapters. Well, make that the surviving thirteen chapters. The path of every successful venture is littered with failures. Of the original thirty VVA chapters, seventeen were stillborn, only existed as a number, or met with a quick end.

But others prospered, sometimes struggled, and survived. We asked those original survivors to recount their histories and discuss their challenges.
These are their stories.

[read complete article ]

By Mac Leepson
It’s not every day that a veterans’ service organization’s national election results make headlines in the nation’s top newspapers. But that’s what happened on August 3, 1987, when The New York Times and The Washington Post trumpeted the fact that Mary Stout had been elected the second president of Vietnam Veterans of America the day before by an overwhelming majority of the four hundred delegates at VVA’s Third National Convention in Washington.

“Woman Takes Command,” was the NYT headline. “Woman to Lead Charge for Viet Veterans Group,” the Post said, followed by the subhead: “Election Follows Tradition of Non-Tradition.” The newspapers played up the fact that Mary Stout, who had served as a U.S. Army nurse in Vietnam, was the first woman chosen to lead an American VSO. At the time, Stout felt that her election signified an important step in the recognition of the role played by women in the Vietnam War and as veterans’ advocates at home.
“I think this is really significant,” she told the reporters, “because for the first time a national veterans’ association has acknowledged that there are women who are veterans, and ‘veteran’ is no longer a male word.”

[read complete article]

Binding Trust To Progress

The latest Veterans Initiative trip to Vietnam and Laos took place in October and November 2007. The team members were VVA Vice President Jack Devine; Gary Jones, the chair of VVA’s POW/MIA Committee; Bill Duker, the director of the committee’s Veterans Initiative Program; and Bob Maras, the former chair of VVA’s Veterans Initiative Task Force.

We took with us items that VVA members had sent to the national office. We took an NVA uniform with associated field gear, two color photos of Viet Cong prisoners in the Dong Tam area, and a grave site location in the Cam Lo area said to contain 158 bodies. We also brought from VVA members the specifications and map of a grave site in Dak To and some confiscated Vietnam War documents in Vietnamese.

[read complete article]

By Bruce McWilliams
On a quiet January afternoon in Lancashire, England, American Vietnam veterans Mark Jackson, Fred Alvis, and Ron Paye were surprised to hear a familiar whoomp-whoomp coming over the trees. They looked up and saw a Huey UH-1H coming in for a landing. The Huey, like Fred and Ron, was a veteran of the 129th Helicopter Assault Company in Vietnam. This was the first time the three veterans had seen a Huey in 30 years.

[read complete article]




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