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July/August Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Letters / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Public Affairs Committee Report / Region 9 Report / From The National Secretary / PTSD/Substance Abbuse Report / Disaster Relief Committee Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / AVVA Report / TAPS / Veterans Initiative Task Force Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Locator / Reunions /

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

BY JOHN ROWAN

Just when the budget battles were quieting down on Capitol Hill, we learned that an employee of the VA had a burglary that resulted in the possible loss of millions of veterans’ and service members’ personal information. This month’s report from the VVA Government Relations Department will go into this issue in detail, including an explanation of our lawsuit against the VA.

While this lack of security is a serious issue, I urge all VVA members not to take any precipitous measures in response to this news. We are still trying to learn more about who may actually be jeopardized by identity theft. Furthermore, we also are relatively confident that measures will be taken, even if it requires congressional intervention, to protect veterans.

We were given such assurances at a meeting that the new House of Representatives Majority Leader John A. Boehner (Ohio) and House Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Steve Buyer (Ind.) had with the leaders of the veterans service organizations.

We are concerned about the potential detrimental effect of this security breach on individual veterans. But, we also want to know why the VA had compiled this information in the first place and what kind of analysis was occurring. There are many questions still unanswered. We hope our lawsuit will aid in this effort.

If you are a Doonesbury fan, as I am, then you might be surprised to see one of the recent strips on the cover of this edition of The VVA Veteran. B.D., Garry Trudeau’s Vietnam veteran character, has been one of my favorites over the years. When he was sent to Iraq and lost his leg to an RPG, it was like an old friend had gotten wounded. By following B.D. through his recuperation, rehab, and his dealings with the Vet Center, Trudeau has given America a comprehensive and compassionate view of the true meaning of what it means to veterans, their comrades, and their families when they are seriously wounded.

VVA will honor Garry Trudeau at the National Leadership Conference in Tucson, where he will be available to sign copies of The Long Road Home, his new book about B.D.’s story of recovery. I hope that many of you will be there to greet and thank him for his honest portrayal of the life of a wounded veteran.

Vice President Jack Devine and Veterans Initiative Task Force Chairman Bob Maras recently returned from a follow-up visit to the Ukraine to meet with Russian Vietnam veterans. Our contact with this group has proven very interesting, as can be seen in the article in this issue written by Nikolay Shershnev about the air war over North Vietnam. This is a fascinating look at the war from the other side. It is especially true for me, since my unit’s job in the war was to identify and locate SAM sites so they could be obliterated. VVA is facilitating a trip by some Ukrainian Vietnam veterans to America and to our Leadership Conference. We should have some interesting conversations.

I look forward to seeing you in Tucson. Don’t forget to bring your sun block.

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