April 2000/May 2000
Veterans Initiative Task Force Report
An Historic And Valuable Program
By TomCorey, Vice President
A Veterans Initiative Task Force delegation arrived in Vietnam February
21 and departed March 9, after another successful mission. Joining the
delegation were members of the VVA Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee who
attended several meetings with the VI team.
At our 1999 National Convention in Anaheim, the delegates
overwhelmingly supported the Veterans Initiative, as they have at previous
conventions. The Task Force was given direction by the delegates who
reaffirmed the effort that "urges all Vietnam veterans to turn over
any information that may be available on Vietnamese war dead to the
national office of VVA."
As on all previous trips, we returned to Vietnam with information on
missing Vietnamese we received from VVA members. We turned the information
over to the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense (MOD) and gave copies to our
counterpart, the Veterans Association of Vietnam (VAV), and other
interested parties. MOD informed us that they have recovered remains of
more than 800 based on the grave-site information provided to them from
In all of our meetings we continue to discuss ways of increasing our
efforts to locate missing from both sides. The Vietnamese understand that,
as former military personnel, we have a responsibility to account for all
Americans left behind after the war. At every level, the Vietnamese have
pledged to further their efforts to locate witnesses who may have
information on our POWs and MIAs. They have asked us to express their
gratitude to American veterans for helping them and have asked VVA to
continue to seek more information on missing Vietnamese.
We continue to take unresolved American cases for further discussion
and investigation. We have reached an agreement with both the Vietnamese
and Lao governments to increase unilateral, bilateral, and trilateral
efforts, to allow JFA’s more time on sites when needed, and to expand
their witness and oral history programs.
We have again been advised by U.S. Ambassador Douglas "Pete"
Peterson, his staff, the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA), and
Vietnamese officials that our face-to-face presence and the information we
have provided on missing Vietnamese have encouraged witnesses to come
forward with new information on missing Americans. This is how we judge
the success of the VI--not by keeping a count of American remains that
have been recovered and returned. Based on comments by everyone involved
in Vietnam and here in the United States, the Veterans Initiative is
We have a responsibility to those who remain missing, but--just as
important--we have a responsibility to the families who still wait for
answers. As we continue to live up to our responsibility, we can honestly
tell the families that we are working to find the answers, where they
exist, in Vietnam.
Our thanks go to those who have participated in and supported this
historic and valuable program, which is now in its sixth year. We need to
continue to gather and return information to the Vietnamese on their
missing because it is as important and meaningful to Vietnamese family
members as it is to American family members.
As team leader, I want to thank those who have taken part in these
delegations, helping to fulfill VVA’s mission. I would not be able to
lead these delegations without their invaluable assistance. I also want to
thank those who provided the funding for Janet Alheit and myself for these
Please join in our effort towards the fullest possible accounting of
those who remain missing from the Vietnam War. You or a friend may have
the information that will lead to the resolution of this issue for both
Note: The full trip report was sent to all chapters and state
councils in the national office mailing.