June 2000/July 2000
By George C. Duggins
VVA’s strength is in its chapters. Buffalo Chapter 77 has flexed its
muscles over and over as it prepared fof VVA’s Eighth National Leadership
Conference. That hard work has paid off for all of us. Thanks, Chapter 77 for a
job well done.
As we prepare for the Leadership Conference, we should focus our attention on
a group that has been by VVA’s side since the beginning.
We used to call them Associates. Now they are the Associates of Vietnam
Veterans of America (AVVA). They have been an integral part of our organization
for more than 20 years. Wives, parents, children, neighbors, and many, many
others comprise the membership of AVVA.
Our Associates have been essential to VVA’s survival and success. Without
the support of these fine individuals, many of the activities and programs we
are involved in would not be possible. To say that without AVVA we wouldn't be
here today is not an exaggeration.
Think, for a minute, about what goes on in your local chapter and how
important Associates have been in insuring that everything is in order. Now
think about how much more difficult our job would be without them.
A year ago last October, the Internal Revenue Service issued its final ruling
on the composition of VVA and the effect on our tax-exempt status of continuing
to include Associates as members of the organization. In essence, the IRS
decreed that VVA could not continue to enroll non-veterans.
The ruling was a bitter and difficult pill to swallow. But VVA reacted to it
by doing what we always do: We moved forward.
Since October 1998, the steps have been taken to incorporate the Associates
into their own organization. AVVA is independent of VVA but remains an important
part of the day-to-day activities of VVA’s local chapters and state councils.
In Buffalo, during the Leadership Conference, the members of AVVA will
assemble in convention for the first time on their own. They have worked
diligently over the past 20 months to insure their rightful place in the
community of veterans. In Buffalo they will choose their leaders for the next
It has been my pleasure over the years to work closely with the outstanding
members of AVVA and see first hand the impact they have had on our lives. Some
of our members would not be alive today without the care and compassion of the
Associates have donated untold hours and dollars to help VVA whenever and
wherever they could. They have always been there for us and they are committed
to continuing to be there for us.
As AVVA President Nancy Switzer said in Anaheim, "We may have a
different name and we may not officially be part of you anymore, but we’re not
If you come to the Leadership Conference, please take the time to approach an
Associate and tell her (or him) how much you appreciate what the Associates have
done for VVA.
They may never seek recognition, but they deserve it.