A VVA VETERAN Staff Report
Ever wonder how many people it takes to keep track of VVA and AVVA's
50,000-plus members on a day-to-day basis? Would you believe a
staff of just four people at National Headquarters?
That's right, the gargantuan task of managing the records of all
of VVA and AVVA's members--which includes helping start new
chapters, keeping track of tens of thousands of annual renewals,
and supporting chapter and state council recruiting efforts--is
handled smoothly and efficiently in VVA's Silver Spring, Maryland,
office by just four full-time staffers: Al Green, Membership
Director; Ernestine Horton, Membership Assistant; and Data Base
Assistants Priscilla Wiley and Jerry Seigel.
"Our busiest time of the year is the October-to-February period.
That's our renewal period," said Green, who came to VVA to head
up the Membership Department in November 1998 after retiring from
a 23-year career with the U.S. Air Force. "We send out more than
a thousand cards a week to remind members that yearly membership
is coming up for renewal. That alone keeps Priscilla and Jerry
Ernestine Horton, a long-time Membership Department staffer,
handles a wide range of other tasks. That includes doing the work
for all life membership processing and sending out and processing
chapter start-up kits and VVA recruiting packages. The department
helps with the creation of new chapters by sending out the
materials for fledgling groups and then processing the members
into the VVA system once the new chapters have been approved by
their state council presidents. The requirement is that a new
chapter has at least 25 Vietnam or Vietnam-era veterans sign up to
create the chapter.
"Once that is accomplished," Al Green said,
off information to have the chapters legally incorporated and
welcomed to VVA."
The Membership Department, which works under the direction of the
National Membership Committee, chaired by Bill Meeks, also
supports chapter and state council recruiting efforts. The
department supplies chapter and state councils a wide array of
recruiting materials, including brochures, displays, and the
paperwork needed to mount recruiting drives.
"We put the emphasis on the grass roots in our recruiting,"
Green said. "It can't be done from National Headquarters. What's
needed is hands-on, one-to-one efforts by our members in local
towns and cities. They are the ones who have to go out there and
talk to prospective members face to face, to shake hands with them
and look them in the eyes. That's the best way we recruit members.
We supply the chapters with the materials, but they have to go out
there and do the grass-roots work."
Aside from recruiting, retaining members is the department's other
priority. "One of our biggest jobs is retaining members," Green
said. "We have growth every year; the chapters are good about
signing up new men and women. But we also lose members every year.
There are deaths; there are people who move and don't notify us.
Sometimes we just lose touch with them."
The department's biggest improvement in recent years has been the
implementation of a new, in-house database, the ACCESS program.
"It used to be that all the data processing was done by outside
companies, and you can imagine how time-consuming and inefficient
that was," Green said. "Now we do it all in house, and it has
saved time and money and made all of our efforts much more
efficient. My job really has become VVA's database manager and
that's a good thing."■
|Publisher's Note: We regret
to report that Allen Green has resigned as VVA's Membership
Director. We are grateful for his valuable service and
wish him well in his new employment.