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

February 2002/March 2002

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

Who And What We Are

BY THOMAS H. COREY

We have just learned of the tragic deaths of Linwood Lang, the president of VVA's North Carolina State Council, and Tito Molina, president of the Puerto Rico State Council. This sad news follows by just a few weeks the death of Rich Montgomery of Philadelphia. Regardless of the circumstances of these deaths, we know this--three more names have been added to the list Father Phil reports to us in each issue of  The VVA Veteran.
     We are saddened by the deaths of our comrades. We should all take time to reflect on Rich, Linwood, and Tito as examples of who and what we are.
     We are Vietnam Veterans of America. Our motto, "In Service To America,'' stands for something noble and decent. We have chosen to come together and serve the needs of our communities, whether the need is homeless veterans or the victims of domestic abuse, special needs children, or children with cancer or AIDS.
     The Veterans Against Drugs project, begun by Rich Montgomery, is gaining visibility in our communities. Through this program, many veterans are doing something worthwhile for family and community.
     Chapter members are reaching out to schools, using the VVA Education
Guidebook as a tool to open new doors in the community. Our members are helping educators develop meaningful Vietnam War history courses for students across the country. Because of this outreach, students have been able to connect with family members who served in Vietnam but have never spoken of the war.
     Chapters large and small are helping homeless veterans in communities all across this country. Food, shelter, clothing, counseling, and medical services are just some of what our chapters offer in financial support or direct services. Car washes, clothing drives, yard sales, and other chapter events help to support this important work.
     It doesn't matter if your chapter has 25 members or 1,000 members. Everyone of you can make a difference. I urge you to read "Membership Notes" in each issue of  The VVA Veteran. You will be amazed by the different programs and activities of our chapters and state councils.
     VA Volunteer Services (VAVS) Programs get you inside local VA hospitals as volunteers. This is our health-care system, and we need to be active participants in the character and delivery of services. The VA depends on volunteers in every facet of the medical centers and outpatient clinics.
     As a partner in VAVS, you will develop a relationship with the hospital staff and administration. Many fine people are working in the VA system. We should take time to get to know them and build mutual respect and trust.
     No one took the VA away from veterans; veterans gave it away by failing to recognize that after all is said and done, when politicians talk about tax reduction, they mean, "VA budget cuts and the reduction of services.''
     Rich, Linwood, and Tito were typical of their fellow VVA members. They chose to take a stand and lead their fellow veterans and communities in significant ways.
     April and June are the months in which we elect chapter and state council officers and boards. My appeal to each of you is to respect the service of all of those who now serve VVA and those whose service has ended, either by choice or by death. Present yourself to the membership as a candidate for office in your chapter or state council, or simply as a full-time participant at the meetings.
     Step up to the challenge and make a difference. By helping each other, we will become stronger as an organization and as individuals. Whether we win or lose an election, each of us has a role and an obligation to support those who are elected and help them do their jobs. We can all be winners to those we represent and to our communities.
     For too long we have watched our fellow veterans worked themselves into a state of burnout. This is an unhealthy situation. We lose valuable people whose lives had been dedicated to helping veterans.
     As we move forward with our mission, everyone of you is needed. Your attendance at chapter and state council meetings and events is vital. We depend on your participation, so attend your next chapter or state council meeting and make that difference.
     Support our troops.
     Peace.■

 

 

   


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