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NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2007

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Membership Affairs / AVVA Report / Arizona AVVA / AVVA Elections / AVVA Scholarship / Arts of War / Book Review / Letters / The Locator / Membership Notes / Reunions / Substance Abuse Committee / Taps / Veterans Incarcerated / VVAF /

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A group of Vietnam veterans, including Owen Martin, John Harrigan, Bob Gilbert, and Bill Heaney, are working hard to form a new chapter in Vernon, New Jersey, located in the rolling hills of Sussex County not far from the New York State line in the northeastern part of the Garden State. If you’d like to help in that effort, contact Harrigan at 973-827-0083, or email harry019@hotmail.com or Martin at 973-764-7111 or gsz@warwick.net

Seventeen members of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310 are officially listed on the “Regular Volunteer” list at the Ann Arbor VA Medical Center in recognition of their extended volunteer work: Pete Belaire, Robert A. Gabrys, Ron Henley, Randall Johnson, Jane Kinzinger, John A. Kinzinger, John F. Kinzinger, Doris Knight, Richard Knight, Gary Lillie, Pat Lubomski, David Martinez, Sandra Martinez, Donald Miller, Thomas Mullins, Kenneth Parks, and Lloyd Suter. In July the Chapter presented a $5,000 check to the VAMC’s Palliative Care Room. The money will be used to renovate the room, which is designed for long-term care patients.

The Staten Island, New York, Chapter 421 Honor Guard hosted the annual Day of Remembrance ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Plaza on June 10 that honored the 84 service personnel from Staten Island who perished in Vietnam. Dennis McLoone, the Chapter’s Chaplain, served as emcee for the event. Chapter members showed up the night before to power-wash the sidewalk, cut the grass, and do other landscaping work. They also put up three tents and brought in a hundred chairs. “The Honor Guard rose to the occasion and did an outstanding job,” said Nicky Castoro, the Honor Guard Captain. “We made a good showing in remembrance of our fallen brothers and showed the family members that we will never let their lost ones be forgotten.”

The newest member of the VVA family is Mesquite, Nevada, Chapter 993, which was organized mainly through the efforts of its first president, Ed Fizer, earlier this year and received its National Charter on July 12. The chapter holds its monthly meetings at Mesa View Hospital. The chapter has an excellent new website: http: //vvamesquite.org/default.aspx

Members of Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82 continue their monthly visits to the Northport VA Medical Center, in a program sponsored by VVA Member of the Year Cherie Steers. The visits take place on the second Sunday of the month, from 12:30 to 2:00 p.m. Members conduct a Bingo game, share coffee and donuts, and present books to patients.

The Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 in Northern Virginia recently donated $250 to the Sanctuary, a program that helps active-duty military personnel, veterans, and first responders with emotional problems. Chapter members Byron Sheldon, Jim Thur, and Ken Moll were hosts for a September 11 dinner for wounded military personnel at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, an event that received support from the Capital Hilton Hotel. And the chapter has just completely revamped its website: www.vva227.org

Las Vegas, Nevada, Chapter 17 took home the best non-commercial float prize for its entry in the Summerlin Patriotic Fourth of July Parade. The float’s theme featured an Operation Ranch Hand C-130, which sprayed Agent Orange in Vietnam. “It was great to have the Ranch ‘fly’ again through the streets of Las Vegas to bring awareness of the Agent Orange issue,” said parade chair Robert Kotchkowski, a former Ranch Hand crew chief.

Several Southern California VVA chapters supported the August 25-26 Compton Homeless Veterans Standdown. Dave De La Rocha of South Bay Chapter 53
in Redondo Beach
, for example, donated paper goods, utensils, and food, and worked the chapter’s booth with Chapter President Jerry Yamamoto. Nick and Doris Nickelson of Chapter 53 donated clothing, and Clarence Hatcherson worked in an employment booth. James Maddox, the president of Pasadena Chapter 446, which provided a monetary contribution to the event, put in a day in Chapter 53’s booth, and the event also received funds from Long Beach Chapter 756 and Orange County Chapter 785.

Chapter 446 played a big role at the October 6 Veterans Care Day sponsored by U.S. Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.) and Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. At the event, chapter members distributed VVA brochures on PTSD, prostate cancer, and type II diabetes, as well as copies of this publication and VVA membership applications. “In addition to being an exhibitor, we were involved on the planning committee,” James Maddox said. “Overall, the response we received from everyone who stopped by our booth was one of appreciation that we are pushing for improved healthcare for all veterans.”

Westchester County, New York, Chapter 49 raises funds by selling “Names on the Wall,” a computer database of the names inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. The program lists each name separately and provides a printout suitable for tracings at The Wall. The database is available in several formats. For more info, email chapter49@aol.com

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Chapter 101 has put together a display of Vietnam War memorabilia for its town’s McMillian Memorial Library. The exhibition of photos, stories, and war mementoes of all kinds, coordinated by Gary Schoenborn, will be on display in the library from November 1-29.

Northern Nevada Correctional Center Chapter 719 in Carson City recently held a big barbeque dinner in which some thousand meals were served. The proceeds from the event, which the chapter has put on annually for six years, goes toward the chapter’s annual contribution to nearby Stead Elementary School, which amounts to about $2,000 each year.

Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted a birthday party on September 21 for the veterans at the Louisville Vet Center, the first outreach effort the chapter has made with the Vet Center. The chapter served birthday cake and fruit punch to Vet Center clients with September birthdays and plans to make this an annual event, taking over a program run by another local VSO.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chapter 590 in September donated $600, the proceeds of the sale of military-style dog tags, to Operation First Response, a non-profit group that provides a wide range of help for wounded, injured, and critically ill men and women serving in the military and their families. The funds will be used to underwrite, among other things, weekly visits to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital.

Southern Utah Chapter 961 recently donated an electric wheelchair to Albert Ricci, an 83-year-old former Marine. This is not the first wheelchair the chapter has donated to a deserving veteran. The chapter has an ongoing program in which it receives donated wheelchairs, as well as hospital beds, refurbishes them, and then presents them to veterans in need.

Herkimer, New York, Chapter 827 hosted a sit-down dinner October 5 to salute New York State legislators who recently endorsed the Silver Rose Award and Medal for New York State, which includes the presentation of a Special Certificate by the state to all Silver Rose victims affected by Agent Orange. State Sen. James Seward, Assemblyman Marc Butler, and many other officials of the New York State Legislature were present for this special event. Any New York resident who has not received the Order of The Silver Rose Award but who has been affected by Agent Orange—or the family of a deceased veteran so affected—can now go to www.silverrose.info to apply for the Silver Rose Medal and Award and the New York State Certificate.

Montgomery County, Maryland, Chapter 641 President Gregory Hamilton recently received a prestigious Daughters of the American Revolution award honoring his outstanding service to this community. Among other things, Hamilton was honored for working with chapter members for the last ten years on the monthly washing of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington and volunteering at the D.C. VA Medical Center.

On August 25-26, the James M. Ray Memorial Chapter 818 in Albion, Rhode Island, co-hosted the chapter’s third annual fishing event for disabled veterans at Lake Hiawatha in Bellingham. The event this year also included an excursion to the Bellingham Police Firing Range. “Many of these veterans would never go any place, and this has opened new doors for them,” said Chapter 818 Secretary Owen W. Emery. “These are men who have lost limbs and are in wheelchairs. You should see the smiles on their faces when they hit a bull’s eye or when they land a fish.”

Western New York Chapter 77 in Tonawanda conducted its annual Gold Star Mother Service on Sunday, September 30, at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Tonawanda. Gold Star Mothers who lost sons in the Vietnam War and in Iraq were honored at the service, after which five white doves, representing the five branches of the military, were released. AVVA members Linda Jenkin Costanzo and Linda Sopic put the event together.

Jim Gunn, a former president of Central Oregon Chapter 820 in Bend, was awarded the Governor’s Outstanding Senior Volunteer Award of 2007 in September. In addition to the work he does for his chapter, Gunn is the co-founder and outreach coordinator for Oregon Veterans Outreach, in which capacity he spends countless hours helping homeless veterans, including those who live in remote areas of the state. “A Marine combat veteran who has overcome personal service-related struggles, James Gunn demonstrates extraordinary compassion for his fellow veterans,” the award citation notes. “Mr. Gunn often says that ‘there are heroes everywhere.’ Beyond a doubt, his selfless dedication attests that he is one of them.”

POW/MIA
Many VVA chapters around the nation took part in ceremonies on Friday, September 21, and Saturday, September 22, marking POW/MIA Recognition Day. Mary Beaulieu, the POW/MIA chair of Greater Hartford, Connecticut, Chapter 120, gave the Keynote Speech at the ceremonies at the Newington, Connecticut, VA Medical Center on September 21, the third Friday of the month and the day set aside for commemoration. “The question of what happened to our POWs and MIAs will not cease until there is the fullest possible accounting of these individuals,” she said. “Please remember them each day, not just on National POW/MIA Recognition Day.”

Members of Lufkin/Nacogdoches, Texas, Chapter 931 dedicated a memorial on National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Nacogdoches Library to the 14 Nacogdoches County men who perished in the Vietnam War. The event included a fly-over by a Vietnam War-era B-52 bomber, a 21-gun salute, and appearances by family members of those who are honored on the memorial.

Members of Stanhope, New Jersey, Chapter 327 took part in an all-night vigil to mark National POW/MIA Recognition Day at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial located on Route 15 in Lafayette in Sussex County, New Jersey. Queens, New York, Chapter 32 held its annual POW/MIA Ceremony in Maspeth, New York. The event included a candle-lighting on a Missing Man Table, and Chapter Vice President Paul Narson playing “Taps” at the conclusion of the ceremony.

Inland Empire Chapter 47 in Riverside, California, hosted a special flag-raising ceremony in honor of National POW/MIA Recognition Day on September 22 at the Inland Empire Military Museum in San Bernardino. A flagpole and POW/MIA flag were dedicated that day in honor of local POW/MIAs.

The Rochester, New York, Chapter 20 Honor Guard conducted a brief ceremony at the POW/MIA Memorial in the Charlotte section of the city on POW/MIA Recognition Day, laying a wreath there. In past years the chapter placed a POW/MIA wreath at The Wall in Washington, D.C.

Central Minnesota Chapter 290 in St. Cloud held a ten-hour vigil at the site of the recently dedicated Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Downtown St. Cloud on September 21. The vigil was the first to be held at the new POW/MIA Walk of Honor. In previous years, the chapter had held the vigil to honor POW/MIAs at the St. Cloud VMAC, the Minnesota Veterans Plaza, and the Municipal Athletic Complex.
Immediately following Genessee County, Michigan, Chapter 175’s annual POW/MIA Ceremony, the new additions to the Reflections Memorial Monument were dedicated. Afterwards, the chapter performed its annual flag retirement ceremony and held a candlelight vigil. Member Don Lada provided the candles.

SCHOLARSHIPS
Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 held two very successful brat and hot dog sales this year outside the local Wal-Mart. The chapter raked in more than $2,500 in sales. The proceeds will go toward funding programs that help local veterans and their families. The chapter’s AVVA contingent held its rummage sale in June and turned over the proceeds to the chapter’s Scholarship Fund. A spaghetti dinner on October 20 raised money so that the chapter’s Military Funeral Honor Guard could attend the parade honoring the 25th anniversary of The Wall.

Finally, Chapter 767 recently reached its goal of sending five tons of packages to our troops overseas.

Chillicothe, Ohio, Chapter 810 recently awarded $3,000 in scholarships. Vanessa Ewing, whose father is a Vietnam veteran serving in Iraq, was presented with a $2,500 scholarship made available by the Vietnam Veterans Buckeye Foundation. The chapter also awarded a $500 scholarship to Theresa Martin, who will be attending Ohio University.

MEMORIALS
Steve Bozeman of Lynchburg/Forest, Virginia, Chapter 196 appeared on local television news and newspapers September 19 to get the word out about plans to add a Purple Heart Memorial to Lynchburg’s 139-step Monument Terrace, which honors 276 local service members who perished in America’s wars. “I was wounded twice in Vietnam,” Bozeman said in a segment aired on WSLS NewsChannel 10. “I’m glad to be here today. And not only myself, but other veterans who were wounded, to honor them and pay tribute to them.” What “I’ve been trying to do is show that one generation will not forget another generation of veterans and try to help younger veterans.”

VVA members, including Connecticut State Council President Billee Culin and Connecticut Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Linda Schwartz, were on hand on August 12 for the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Patriot’s Park in Coventry, Connecticut. The memorial will honor the 612 Connecticut men who died or remain missing in the Vietnam War.

Newly renamed Sheboygan County, Wisconsin, Chapter 618 was the driving force behind the May 26 dedication of a new memorial to all veterans who have served their country in Veterans Park on Sheboygan’s southwest side. The memorial consists of a small granite monument and a very large M60-A3 battle tank, which the chapter secured and donated to the city of Sheboygan for the memorial.

Chapter President Don Dale, Vice President Larry Edwards, and members Del Erwin, and Loren Johnson of Genesee County Chapter 175 in Flint, Michigan, were among the folks who put up the Moving Wall when it arrived on August 9 in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. The chapter took part in a wreath laying at the memorial on August 11.

Asheville, North Carolina, Chapter 124 co-sponsored an appearance of The Wall That Heals in Swannanoa, North Carolina, from September 5-9. More than three thousand students visited the memorial that week. Chapter members were among those who greeted the busloads of students and guided them through the memorial and the museum that accompanies it.

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