A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

April 2000/May 2000

Veterans Against Drugs Task Force

Racing Against Drugs

By Herb Worthington, Chair

The idea for a Veterans Against Drugs program was conceived about 12 years go by the members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society. They recognized that drug abuse is one of the biggest problems this country faces. It is a problem that affects Americans of every race, nationality, age, religion, and socioeconomic level. The society also recognized that because of the vast scope of the problem they couldn’t fight it alone. They came to VVA and asked for our help.

At about the same time, three young boys were caught in drug dealers’ crossfire in Philadelphia. One was killed and two were wounded. The father of one of the children appeared on television wearing a hat that said "Vietnam Veteran and Proud of It." VVA’s Philadelphia chapter was alerted to the situation and decided to help a brother vet. Rich Montgomery and others picked up the cause and since then, they have worked to battle drugs in the Philadelphia area.

Then came another tragedy on the other side of the country: the senseless, drug-related killing of a young scholar-athlete in Kern County, California. Long-time VVA activist Vernon Valenzuela, who lives in the county seat, Bakersfield, reacted to the slaying by lobbying VVA to institute a program to help keep young people away from drugs.

A program was put together in conjunction with the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in Kern County and another in Union County, New Jersey, headed by Gene Davis. Gene got me involved and we have worked hard to expand those programs.

Since then, we have run a program in San Antonio, Texas, headed by Louis Rocco, a Vietnam veteran and Medal of Honor recipient who wants to combat drugs and violence. Louis works as hard as any ten people I know.

Jack Jacobs, another Medal of Honor recipient, opened a program in Bergen County, New Jersey. He told students there of his exploits and instructed them about choosing the right path in life, about avoiding drugs, and about the negative consequences of drug use.

VVA’s Veterans Against Drugs program now is affiliated with K-mart’s Kids Race Against Drugs. This is an opportunity for VVA to establish a relationship with a nationwide retailer, to promote ourselves as community-minded Vietnam veterans, and to raise money for our Veterans Against Drugs program.

Here is how it works: VA chapters go to the local K-mart and ask the manager if the store is involved with the K-mart Kids Race Against Drugs program. If the store is, the chapter can volunteer to be the race’s secondary-level volunteer group. In exchange for providing 18-20 VVA volunteers for the race, K-mart is authorized to donate $2,000 to VVA’s Veterans Against Drugs Program.

Those volunteers can come from your local chapter, or as many as half may be recruited through state National Guard units under their National Guard Anti-Drug Task Force. For information on how to get your local Guard unit involved, call Lt. Kathy Masters at 703-607-5665. This should be done after you have contacted the local K-mart and set up a date for the race.

K-mart’s donations go directly to VVA’s national Veterans Against Drugs program. However, $500 of each donation will be sent to the local chapter to be used in its local anti-drug effort. The balance of the money will be used to provide local chapters with support materials and to cover expenses for Medal of Honor recipients when they appear at local chapter events. Don’t forget to bring your membership forms with you. Help out and get involved, you’ll be glad you did.

   

E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

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