April 2002/May 2002
Vietnam Veterans of America
SEMIANNUAL COMMITTEE REPORTS
Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee
BY PAUL SUTTON, CHAIR
AGENT ORANGE CLASS ACTION SUIT
In Stephenson v. Dow Chemical, Vietnam veterans alleged
they were injured by exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam.
In the late 1990s, they filed lawsuits against manufacturers of
Agent Orange. The chemical companies moved to dismiss on the
grounds that the claims were barred by the 1984 class-action
settlement. The veterans argued that their claims were not
barred because their injuries did not manifest themselves until
after all the AO settlement funds were depleted in 1994 and that
there had been inadequate representation of individuals whose
claims arose after the settlement funds were depleted.
Judge Weinstein rejected the veterans' arguments and granted the
chemical companies' motion to dismiss. The veterans appealed
Judge Weinstein's decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the
Second Circuit. On November 30, 2001, a three-judge panel
vacated Judge Weinstein's dismissal of the cases and remanded
for further proceedings. The veterans have won the right to go
forward with their case.
RANCH HAND DATA REVIEW
In November, I attended a briefing on the retrospective review
of the birth defects data sets the committee purchased from the
USAF Ranch Hand Study.
A vital part of our committee's work is the administration of a
$10,000 grant awarded by VVAF for an analysis of the
birth-defect data in the Ranch Hand Study. None of this data was
ever released by the Air Force and references to it by the Air
Force obscured and misrepresented the data.
There are some striking data hidden within the studies--data
that should have been available to Vietnam veterans at the time
of the class-action suit. Even though we may be precluded from
additional litigation against the chemical companies and the
government, we will be able to tell our membership, "What we
suspected was there is there, and this is what we now know."
U.S.-VIETNAM SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCE ON HUMAN HEALTH AND
ENVIRONMENTAL EFFECTS OF AGENT ORANGE/DIOXIN
At the invitation and expense of the U.S. National Institute of
Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), VVA National President
Thomas H. Corey, Linda Schwartz, and I attended the U.S.-Vietnam
Conference on Human Health and Environmental Effects of Agent
Orange/Dioxin, held in Hanoi. Linda Schwartz and I made
On March 3, we attended opening sessions and heard several guest
speakers, including U.S. Ambassador Raymond F. Burghardt. Later,
we participated in a formal poolside dinner for 400 guests--280
of them Vietnamese scientists, government employees, and
representatives from non-governmental organizations.
Dr. Christopher Portier had made it very clear at meetings prior
to the conference that he had little regard for the work done by
the Vietnamese scientific community. He said that its methods
are "not similar"
to Western scientific practices and that very little of it had
been peer-reviewed or published in scientific publications. The
Vietnamese have little in the way of equipment and that it has
been difficult for them to get their science done.
On March 4, Corey and I were interviewed by Reuters News TV
before the conference sessions. Later, Schwartz and I presented
our papers, which were well received. During lunch, our group
met with a Lao delegation.
I was struck by the reaction of several of the scientists to my
presentation and the questions they generated. Three of the
scientists were NVA veterans and one had served as a chemical
warfare officer during the war. The questions centered on the
CDC studies and the diseases for which American veterans were
currently receiving compensation. I also told them about spina
bifida compensation paid to children.
Later in the day, Dr. Larry Needham claimed, "CDC found no
reason to believe that any U.S. troops, other than U.S. Air
Force Ranch veterans, experienced exposure to Agent Orange and
that there was no reason to suspect exposure to ground troops."
When challenged on this statement, he said that he did not
intend to convey that impression.
On Tuesday, we attended conference sessions. One of the
presentations was by Dr. Han Kang of the VA, who presented data
from several VA studies conducted in the 1980s and early 1990s
that have been widely disparaged by VVA and others. His
presentation was immediately attacked by the Vietnamese
During closing sessions, Vietnamese scientists used the 2000
NAS/IOM reports to point out the diseases and disabilities for
which U.S. veterans currently receive service-connected
compensation based upon the NAS/IOM recommendations by DVA in
1993, 1996, 1998, and 2000. They indicated that these same
illnesses and disabilities are experienced by Vietnamese
citizens in the south.
At the Vietnamese Organizing Committee press conference, Dr.
Portier publicly acknowledged VVA=s
participation in and work towards insuring that this conference
On March 7, Round Table workshop discussions took place between
Vietnamese and American scientists to suggest research in
Vietnam that would strengthen the understanding of health and
environmental effects of Agent Orange and dioxin. Discussions
were separated into two tracks, health-effects research and
There will also be a second conference, Long-term Ecological and
Health Consequences of the Vietnam War, at Yale University School
of Nursing, September 13-15, also funded by NIEHS.
Paul Sutton. Vice Chair: Linda Schwartz. Members: Lois Beck,
Thomas Berger, James Branum, David Carter, John "JD" Davis, Ken
Deal, William Dumsick, Alan Gibson, Michael Lay, Darrel Martin,
and Robert Stocker. Special Advisers: George Claxton, Fran Davis,
Catherine Greene, and Gerald Ney. Staff Coordinator: Jennifer
ALAN COOK, CHAIR
There are no resolutions to report from the Finance Committee, but
we have been busy on several
fronts. The first order of business was to establish a budget for
the current fiscal year. The
committee met in December to balance the VVA budget. We were not
sure what impact the
September 11th event would have on the revenue of the
organization, so we projected a decrease in
revenue. As we started the budget process, we faced the largest
deficit since the committee has been
involved in the budget process, which has been over ten years.
committee worked the budget deficit down from $941,000 to $2,300
and was still able to
increase the Veterans Benefits staff. We also finished before 6:00
p.m. on Saturday, which was a
first for the committee. The budget was presented to the Board of
Directors at the January
meeting. It was approved by the officers and Board. The budget
meets the obligations of the
accordance with VVA's financial policies and procedures, the
Finance Committee began
reviewing contracts. This procedure has not been done for many
years. The Finance committee has
several subcommittees: Scholarship, Investment, and Budget
Oversight. The Budget
Oversight Subcommittee is responsible for monitoring each cost
center budget; this insures all
individuals and departments stay within their yearly budgets.
would like to thank the Finance Committee members. I also want to
thank Joe Sternburg, Dana
Crosse, Sutonta Thumprasert, and the rest of the Finance
Chair: Alan Cook. Vice Chair: Wayne Reynolds. Members: Marv
Greenwell, John Miner, Steve Mulcahy, Walter Orton, John Rowan,
and Sandie Wilson. Special
Advisers: Nancy Montgomery and Ed Chow. Staff Coordinator: Joseph
Membership Affairs Committee
BY BILL MEEKS, JR., CHAIR
With the coming of spring, it=s
branding time out on the range, and that means it=s
renewal time here at VVA. Each year, most of our membership
rosters shrink at renewal time. Without a valiant effort to contact non-renewing members, they
will be lost. This is not a
new problem, but have you ever wondered what causes members not to
membership in VVA? What steps has your chapter taken to resolve
this problem? You
could reevaluate your chapter operation, seek out the issues that
could contribute to this
problem, and make the changes that are necessary to insure that
these members remain part of the
Every even-numbered year VVA holds the National Leadership
Conference. We do so to help
members understand the operation of VVA and to provide a starting
point for those members
who are interested in becoming leaders in VVA. This year the
Membership Affairs Committee has requested time slots for three
jam-packed seminars in Tucson. The “Chapter Development” seminar
will address such topics as what makes a successful chapter, how
to hold an effective meeting, and parliamentary law and procedure.
The “Membership Administration and Internet” seminar will provide
information on membership processing, database use, and the
Internet as an effective tool. Finally, the “Membership
Recruitment and Retention” seminar will provide ideas for
recruiting and retaining members. I hope to see lots of new faces
at the Leadership Conference. Why wait? Make your plans now to
Chair: Bill Meeks, Jr. Vice Chair: Lupe Alviar, Jr.
Members: Tom Berger, Fred Elliott, Hank Evans, Ned Foote, Rocky
Gothard, Floyd Greenwell, Charlie Montgomery, Charlie Richardson,
Fara Sanchez, and Dick Southern. Special Adviser: Marcia Hicks.
Staff Coordinator: Ernestine Horton.
Minority Affairs Committee
F. IVARRA, CHAIR
The National Minority Affairs Committee met
during the October 2001, January 2002, and March 2002 VVA National Board of Directors
meetings in Silver Spring, Maryland.
We have outstanding and impressive members
who are strongly committed to guiding the success of the Minority Affairs Committee.
Fara Sanchez has been appointed Vice Chair, and Ed Chow will serve as the Special Adviser to the
committee. Subcommittees have been established to research the history of the committee, to
define the current role of the committee, to develop the meaningful goals and objectives of the
committee, and to implement the ways and means to remain a visible and viable committee.
At the January meeting, the committee decided
to focus on the August 2002 VVA Leadership Conference in Tucson. Our work will include:
1. Organizing a Minority Veterans
2. Conducting a seminar, panel
discussion, or town hall meeting with the mission and message of outreach to the
3. Inviting prominent national
leaders to be part of this event
Committee members decided that an
informational pamphlet is needed to explain the purpose and mission of the Minority Affairs
Committee. Our goal is to develop a pamphlet prior to the National Leadership Conference. We also will
be providing The VVA Veteran with periodic historical notes about the many
significant contributions that minority veterans have made to the military during times of war and
At the January meeting, the committee
unanimously endorsed a resolution in support of the American Veterans Committee for Puerto Rico
Self‑Determination, a resolution that supports Puerto Rico's veterans in their efforts for
self‑determination, equality, and democracy.
Finally, a name change for the committee is
under consideration. The word “minority” may be replaced with a more suitable and appropriate
We have a considerable amount of work ahead
of us, but this committee is prepared to meet the challenge. We will accept our
responsibilities, and we will not fail.
Francisco F. Ivarra. Vice Chair: Fara Sanchez. Members: Lee
Fisher, Patricia Fisher, Virgie Hibbler, Joe
Jennings, Richard LaBarre, Mark Lumpkin, Arnold Pinckney, Carlton
Simon Sierra, and Connie Steers. Special Adviser: Ed Chow. Staff
POW/MIA Affairs Committee
BY BRUCE LINNELL, CHAIR
As stated in the VVA Constitution, “The POW/MIA Committee shall
seek and promote the fullest accounting of those still listed as
POW/MIAs in Southeast Asia and any other areas of the world,
regardless of the conflict that initiated their disappearance. The
committee shall disseminate information received on the POW/MIA
issue to the National Board of Directors, State Councils,
Chapters, POW/MIA families and friends, and VVA membership as
Over the past six months, the committee has executed its
responsibilities as defined by the Constitution in the following
To help achieve the fullest possible accounting of our POW/MIAs,
we have invited other members of the POW/MIA advocates community
to join our committee as special advisers. By more effectively
communicating with other concerned organizations, we are able to
strengthen our collective efforts towards the fullest possible
accounting through communication and collaboration.
We have been honored by the addition to our committee of
representatives from the National League of Families, the National
Alliance of Families, Sons and Daughters in Touch, and AVVA. The
committee also has made a commitment to participate in the
activities of those organizations. Invitations for other
organizations to join with us are being discussed.
To improve the dissemination of information on POW/MIA issues, we
have created an Internet talklist for POW/MIA Committee members at
the national, state, and chapter levels. We also have developed an
Internet distribution list to share information with advocates in
the POW/MIA community, organizations, and individuals who wish to
be kept informed. Anyone who would like to receive these postings
should send a request to firstname.lastname@example.org
We also are in the process of developing a POW/MIA web page to be
included on the VVA web site. To further improve the quality of
information available to the public, we have begun an inventory of
POW/MIA-related websites and will link those sites that offer
responsible and accurate information to our web page.
The committee is preparing to mail to members of the U.S. Congress
a complete set of the 13 VVA Convention Resolutions relating to
the POW/MIA Committee. Also included in the mailing will be the
Policy Statement, the Committee=s
legislative action agenda, and President Tom Corey=s
March 20 statement to the House and Senate Veterans=
We have begun a review of committee correspondence over the past
two years to determine if there are any unresolved issues or
questions that may have been posed to individuals, organizations,
or government entities that would require a follow-up from us. In
short, we are trying to find out if any committee initiatives have
been dropped, and if so, we will do our best to pick them up
There has been much to keep us busy over the past six months, and
we look forward to the next six with a great deal of enthusiasm.
Chair: Bruce Linnell. Members: Dan Carr, Hank
Evans, Buster Holmberg, Ben Humphries, Bob Johnson, Larry Klein,
Doug Perkins, John Rowan, Frank Stacey, and Jack Thomas. Special
Advisers: Mike Benge, Bill Duker, Susie Ragan, Kay Gardner, and
Michelle Baugh. Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee
BY STEVE MASON, CHAIR
John Steinbeck wrote, “There are those among us who live in
rooms of experience we can never enter.” The mentally ill and
those who suffer the varied symptoms of PTSD live in such rooms.
This committee and, indeed, our entire membership and their
families understand too well what life in such rooms really is.
Consistent with that understanding, this committee is working
to satisfy the resolutions adopted at our National Convention of
2001. The tragedy of September 11th did not deter the committee
from developing its agenda to deliver the best results possible.
It did, however, dramatically point out the weaknesses that exist
within the VHA to satisfy the increased needs of families and
veterans. Yes, it is about money. There is always that. But it is
also about complacency, inefficiency, and indifference.
The VISN as a system is simply not equal to the task because it
is inconsistent in the delivery of its services among the 21 VISNs.
A veteran presenting his symptoms in New York may not receive the
same care and treatment as he or she might in California or
Georgia. Certainly, this is true for the severally mentally ill,
as distinguished from those with PTSD or substance abuse. It is
the opinion of this committee chair that so far as forming
coalitions with other organizations is concerned, the need for
Mental Health Courts in each of the 50 states should be lobbied.
Our prisons, park benches, and cemeteries offer abundant proof
that it should be aggressively addressed.
There are 204 Vet Centers. However well-staffed and
well-intentioned the center, the need for its services is
incalculably greater than the Department of Veterans Affairs
Readjustment Counseling Service can provide. We must look to the
This committee is committed to what it considers to be its dual
role, Advocacy and Education. Toward that end, it is working to
develop through pamphlet, web site, and the dialogue with newly
forming coalitions to satisfy its mission. It assigns no priority
to the issue or the symptom. Rape victim, combat veteran, wife,
significant other, child, or schizophrenic: No “room of
experience” is of greater or lesser value to this committee.
According to an Associated Press article, nearly two thousand
of the 14,000 firefighters in New York who performed with such
magnificence following the attack on the World Trade Center have
seen counselors for nightmares, anger, and stress. The counseling
unit that saw 600 people in 2000 had 11 counselors and clinicians.
It now has five times that number. The counseling service
director, Malachy Corrigan, said “Their coping skills are breaking
I love New York and honor all its heroes and victims. I love
America. My only question is how can our federal government do
less for its heroes and victims?
Chair: Steve Mason. Vice Chair: Father Phil
Salois. Members: Lupe Alviar, Sandy Miller, Wayne Reynolds.
Special Advisers: Nancy Switzer, Dee Hagge, Susan Rozalski, and
Mary Yeomans. Staff Coordinator: Mokie Porter.
Public Affairs Committee
BY JIM DOYLE, CHAIR
follows is an update on the Public Affairs Committee's progress in
Convention Resolutions that guide our work.
P-1-01 Community Service.
VVA chapters and state councils are involved in every
aspect of community life. The “Membership Notes” section of The
VVA Veteran is a
report on the various community-service projects VVA members are
involved in across the
P-2-01 Children's Welfare.
VVA members are engaged in efforts to protect children and
promote their positive development through programs such as Foster
Parents, Big Brothers and Big
Sisters, and other youth-oriented projects.
P-3-01 Chapter Involvement with Educational Institutions on
Teaching the Vietnam War.
The VVA Educational Guidebook, distributed at the 2001 Convention
in Greensboro, is a
blueprint for successful educational outreach and is being used by
chapters and state councils in
their education programs.
P-4-01 Regulation of Certain Activities at the Vietnam Veterans
continues to be active in working with the U.S. Park Service to
insure the sanctity of the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial and enforcement of regulations pertaining to
appropriate activities at The
P-5-01 Endorsement for Participation in Local Environmental
various communication channels of VVA, our members are able to
share information on
activities and efforts to protect our environment from hazardous
P-6-01 Biennial Publication of the VVA Constitution, Convention
Resolutions, Code of
The VVA Veteran.
The VVA Constitution and Resolutions are
published in The VVA Veteran following biennial national
P-7-01 Requirement to Report Semiannual Progress on All Currently
These reports have become a regular part of The VVA Veteran
provide valuable information to our members.
P-8-01 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall.
VVA and AVVA members regularly
fulfill our commitment to conserve the legacy, respect, and honor
of The Wall. Vietnam
veterans and their families engage in activities such as washing
The Wall and maintaining the
lighting at The Wall.
P-9-01 Vietnam War In Memory Memorial Plaque Project.
VVA is a full partner with the
Vietnam War In Memory Memorial Plaque Project. VVA has testified
on behalf of the
project, and chapters and state councils participate in public
awareness and fund-raising
P-10-01 Recognition of the Veterans Against Drugs Task Force.
VVA recognizes and
supports the commitment of members of the Veterans Against Drugs
Task Force to be drug-free as
an example of the values of VVA.
P-11-01 Support for Chapel Recognition Program.
Paul Sutton, National Liaison to the
Chapel of the Four Chaplains, regularly reports activities
recognizing VVA members who are
selected to receive one of the three honors bestowed by the
Chair: Jim Doyle.
Members: Alan Cook, Tom Hall, Larry Klein, Bruce Linnell, James Maddox, Steve Mason,
John Miner, Charlie Mitchem, Will Schwartz, Jack Thomas, Avery Taylor, Ray Truelove.
Special Advisers: Herb Hankerson, Mary Miller, Joyce Miner,
Charlotte Rebillard, John Rowan,
Nancy Switzer, Margaret Wojciechowicz, Ginny Richards, George Duggins, Bob Piaro,
Joanne Harkins, and Dick Southern. Staff Coordinator: Mokie
Veteran Affairs Committee
BY ROBERT MARAS, CHAIR
no surprise: The VA budget is on the desk of the President, and
the veteran once again comes up
short to the tune of $1.6 billion. This shortfall will affect all
the VISNs. I don't know which
areas will take a hit. But rest assured, as I get information I
will keep you informed.
Hepatitis C is the hot-button issue right now. The Veterans Health
Administration (VHA) reports that
6.6 percent of veterans who use VHA services are infected with
hepatitis C--more than three
times the national average of 1.8 percent. VHA missed the
opportunity to screen as many as three
million veterans, potentially leaving as many as 200,000 veterans
unaware that they are infected with
There is also another potential problem with hepatitis C. It
concerns minorities with hepatitis C.
Genotyping generally is not done, and minorities are not told of
the low success rate due to this
problem. Minority veterans go into the program and--no
surprise--find no real change in their
you may know, the VA's Fourth Mission is to lend support in the
case of national disasters. On
September 11, the local VISN answered that call. I want to thank
the doctors and staff who went
the extra mile to assist at the World Trade Center. The VA once
again had to dip into an
empty pot of money to do what it had to do to help out, and it
managed to do so.
Chair: Robert W. Maras.
Vice Chair: Jerry Klein. Members: Jim Blair, Donald Cannon, Marsha Four, Leverett
Hobbs, Ken Holybee, Ray Hutchison, Jerry Klein, Ernie “Dogwolf” Lovato, Albert Lewis,
Steve Mason, and Bruce Whitaker. Special Adviser: Dee Hagge. Staff Coordinator: Rick
Veterans Benefits Committee
BY STEVE MULCAHY, CHAIR
appreciate the confidence our National President, Tom Corey, has
in me by appointing me to this
position. As a member of this committee for several years, I have
seen what needs to be
done, and I hope we can accomplish it in the next two years. I am
a firm believer in the
committee process and hope everyone on the committee, with the
help of the national staff, will make
this the best benefits program in this country.
also would like to commend the national staff for continually
having the best win rate at the
Board of Veterans' Appeals. This shows the quality and dedication
of our people. It is one thing just
to do the job, but quite another to be the best at it month after
month. When our Service
Representatives tell people who come to them for help that we have
the best win rate at BVA, that
says a lot about how dedicated we are to the cause of veterans
helping veterans. It also tells them
that we know what we are doing when it comes to handling their VA
went to extended meeting times each quarter to try and get through
the load of information that
the committee must act on each time we meet. We believe we have
refined the Benefits
Program policies to meet the ever-changing responsibility of our
committee. We want to stress the
importance of filing quarterly reports so the national staff will
be kept abreast of the kinds of
problems we are having in the field and what we need to schedule
in future training sessions.
pleased to announce that the Basic Training this year will be held
in Nashville. It will be
Sunday, June 9, to Thursday, June 13. We did this to get in a
Saturday-night stay to reduce plane
fares and to get the training out of the Washington, D.C., area.
We are going to see if this
increases attendance. We believe some people will drive and save
Advanced Training will take place the Wednesday before the start
of the Leadership Conference in
Tucson. It will be an all-day class for accredited Service
Representatives who require this type of
training every other year. If possible, all accredited Service
Reps should attend because there is
always more to learn. Our national staff will talk about the
recent changes at this class.
are going to make every effort to bring you the department's
quarterly report in The VVA
I would like to thank all those who have come to my aid in the
form of helpful input and
constructive criticism since I have taken on this job. I could not
have done it without your
help. I want every member of VVA to know that we, in the Benefits
comments and suggestions. So keep them coming.
Chair: Steve Mulcahy. Members: Ron Adams, Randy Barnes, Judi Greig,
Jim Grissom, Al
“Butch” Huber, Jerry Klein, Bob Maras, Pat Pudetti, and Charlie
Richardson. Special Advisers: Paul
Angrisano, Rocky Gothard, and Bill Williams. Staff Coordinator:
BY JOHN KOPROWSKI, CHAIR
Since our convention last August, the
Veterans Incarcerated Committee has been working on several tasks and goals as mandated by the
VVA Constitution, Resolutions, and the Strategic Plan.
In October, at our first meeting, the
committee members met, and goals for the coming year were adopted. Of concern is adequate health care
for veterans incarcerated, elderly veterans being released from prison, hepatitis C, and
diabetes testing. We also are working on a Veterans Incarcerated page on VVA's web site and
revising the mission statement.
The part‑time position of a Veterans
Incarcerated Coordinator at the national office is of great concern to the committee. During the past six
months, more than five hundred requests for assistance through letters, e‑mails, and
telephone calls have been received. It is a daily task to respond to these inquires in a timely manner.
The committee has restored its membership
with the American Correctional Association, which will keep us informed of current correctional
topics and related news. The Mission Statement has been updated and will soon be sent out with
the revised “White Paper,” which was first published April 1998. These two documents
should answer the majority of inquiries requesting services.
The VVA From Felon to Freedom booklet,
which is often requested, is only to be used as a planning guide for the veteran who is
within 90 days from being released from prison. It offers a list of resources to assist the veteran's
transition back to society. It presently is being revised to include new and current information. The
availability date has not been determined.
The committee has taken on the project of
developing a Liaison's Manual for sponsors and volunteers to assist them in becoming
effective liaisons. It will have ground rules, rules of the road, do's and don'ts, and guidelines for
working with incarcerated chapters or groups and Department of Correction officials.
The committee has requested that State
Council Presidents appoint liaisons from each state to assist the Veteran Incarcerated Coordinator
and the committee with contacts on the state level. This will give us a tool to work back and
forth on ideas, programs, and suggestions
I would like to thank all the members of the
committee for their commitment in serving and for the knowledge and experience they bring to
the committee. With their enthusiasm, we can make a difference.
John Koprowski. Vice Chair: Adolph Gardner. Members: Ron Adams,
Bruce Hestley, Allen
Manuel, Jim Saunsaucie, and Rocky Snow. Special Advisers: Marcia
Hicks, Steve Mason, Wayne
Miller, Jeani Wells, and Jeff White. Staff Coordinator: Gnat
Women Veterans Committee
MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
Resolution WV-1-01 Support for Women
Veterans. Women veterans have held positions at the chapter,
state, and national levels, including committee chairs, board
directors, and officer positions. At the national level, each
member of the Women Veterans Committee is a member or liaison to
another committee, actively taking part and attending to the
issues of that committee with respect to women veterans. We are
working with the Veterans Benefits Committee on a presentation for
the Leadership Conference related to sexual and personal trauma.
The committee is in the process of obtaining copies of a 78-page
booklet, “Women Veterans Employment,” which will be shared with
the ETABO Committee. It was produced by W.R.E.I. (Women’s Research
& Educational Institute).
Additionally, the Women Veterans brochure
continues to be distributed. It is included in the semiannual
packet distributed to the State Council Presidents for
distribution to their state Women Veterans Committee chairs.
Members of the committee have assisted the Membership Committee on
the Mall during Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
As a member of the VA Women Veterans Advisory
Committee, I regularly receive information from the U.S.
Department of Veterans Affairs: VHA, VBA, National Cemetery, and
Resolution WV-2-01 Women Veterans Study.
Although information in the VA Women Vietnam Veterans Reproductive
Outcomes Health Study (October 1998) contributed to the recent
legislation providing benefits to children with birth defects born
to women who served in Vietnam, this study did not address the
issue of women exposed to Agent Orange. Linda Schwartz, a member
of the committee, is working on a new study to address this issue.
Other committee members are lending
assistance to this study and to Schwartz. A symposium is planned
at Yale University in September. The VA regulations for benefits
to children with birth defects born to women who served in Vietnam
have been put forth and have been finalized after a 30-day comment
Resolution WV-3-01 Medical Treatment of
Women Veterans by DVA. The newly appointed director of the VA
Center for Women Veterans, Irene Trowell-Harris, presented
information at our last committee meeting in January. (See
interview in this issue.) Carole Turner, the director of the VA
Women Veterans Health Programs Office, has been attentive to our
issues and questions. One concern is meeting the needs of women
veterans in the expanding Community-based Out-patient Clinic
We are reviewing HR 536 and the inclusion of
the VA Medical Centers in it. The bill, briefly, deals with
minimum hospitalization after mastectomy surgery. We have spoken
to majority and minority staff members of the House and Senate
Veterans’ Affairs Committees about this bill. VVA has contacted
the Office of Rep. Rosa DeLauro (one of the bill’s sponsors) in an
effort to gather information.
Discussion also has begun on the elimination
of the sunset clause on eligibility to gain access to treatment
and care for military sexual trauma. This is due for renewal in
Resolution WV-4-01 U.S. Department of
Veterans Affairs Women Veteran Coordinator Program. The
committee has been keeping a close watch on this item. The VA has
had an internal panel reviewing and evaluating the program.
Recommendations are being carried forward with the hope that
Coordinators in the VA Medical Centers will have no less than a .5
FTEE, understanding that those coordinator positions with an
existing FTEE greater than .5 will not be diminished. This
committee stresses the importance of a full-time Women Veteran
Coordinator in each VISN office to provide coordinated programs,
oversight, outreach, linkage with state agencies, and assistance
with the needs of CBOCs.
Chair: Marsha Four. Vice Chair: Sandy
Miller. Members: Lois Beck, Judi Greig, Bob Maras, Judy McCombs,
Fara Sanchez, Ann Marie Rutallie, Linda Schwartz, Mary Ellen
White, and Sandie Wilson. Special Advisers: Bill Duker, Joan Furey,
Martha Green, Sara McVicker, Beverly Stewart, Nancy Switzer, and
Veterans Against Drugs Task Force
Letters have been sent out to all the other
veterans service organizations inviting them to join us in our
battle against drugs and violence. Thus far, the Legion of Valor,
the National County Service Officers Association, and Incarcerated
Veterans have endorsed the program. We are also talking to other
groups that expressed interest in joining us as we speak to our
youth and portray the positive image that we need to have in our
communities. As in any war, there is strength in numbers. We plan
to make a presentation at the Leadership Conference in August.
West Virginia is on board and has done
wonderful things in a short period of time. Bakersfield,
California, is continuing to impress the local population with all
they do. Philadelphia has had a major loss with the recent passing
of one of its founders, Rich Montgomery. Rich's program, called
Lost Dreams on Canvas, has achieved national acclaim. Seeing the
pictures of kids who have been killed due to violent crime and
reading their biographies pulls at the toughest soldiers' heart
strings. One of the last things that Rich requested was that the
program continue. We have spoken to the dedicated men and women of
the Philadelphia program, and they have assured us that the
program will go on.
Long Island, New York, and New Jersey are
doing great. San Antonio, Texas, has a group of hard‑working
people led by Louis R. Rocco, a Medal of Honor recipient. Louis
has had some health problems but still fights the fight.
With warriors such as Medal of Honor
recipients, you might ask who else is needed. The answer is
simple: We need you. If we are to stop our young people from
killing themselves and keep them from doing terrible harm to their
friends and families, we have to get involved.
A large percentage of the drugs flooding into
our country are coming from the poppy fields in Afghanistan. For
those who need a little extra push to join Veterans Against Drugs,
that should be the best incentive yet. If you stop one kid from
doing drugs, that means less money goes to terrorism.
We are in the process of putting three
additional lesson plans together. We also have a VAD web site up
and running. The web page will change as time goes on. We hope to
show photos of the programs at different sites around the country.
Each site is different. The participants range from young people
to young adults, from inner city to outer suburbia. Choose a color
or nationality, and there is someone involved who meets the
The only thing needed to make the program
even more successful is you. So stop the excuses. The kids have
heard them all. Join us.
Chair: Herb Worthington. Vice Chair: Doug
Perkins. Members: James Branum, Larry Coan, Hank Evans, Herb
Hankerson, Jerry Klein, Larry Klein, Bob Maras, Carlton Rhodes,
and Dave Simmons. Special Advisers: Elaine Simmons and Margaret
Wojciechowicz. Staff Coordinator: Deborah Williams.
Veterans Initiative Task Force
BY WILLIAM C.
The resolution to require all national
committees and task forces to report semiannually was created to
provide our membership with current information on how each
national committee and task force is complying with its respective
resolutions. The Veterans Initiative Task Force operates under
the mandates of two resolutions, VITF-1-01 and VITF-2-01. The
success that the Veterans Initiative Task Force has achieved is a
direct result of the simplicity and clarity of those resolutions.
This also has allowed the Veterans Initiative Task Force to remain
consistent in its message.
VITF-1-01. This resolution urges
anyone, Vietnam veterans in particular, to provide any information
that may be available on Vietnamese war dead to the VVA national
office. The VVA national office continues to collect, research,
and collate all the information submitted. This information
consists of artifacts and souvenirs taken from the war and
unmarked Vietnamese grave sites. The next step is to prepare this
information to be presented by the Veterans Initiative Task Force
team when it travels to Southeast Asia. The amount of information
the national office has received in the last few months has
VITF-2-01. This resolution reaffirms
that the primary mission of the Veterans Initiative is to achieve
the fullest possible accounting of all American Prisoners of War
and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. The Veterans Initiative
Task Force receives information and requests from veterans,
individual family members, family organizations, and the VVA
National POW/MIA Committee. These requests and this information
are then presented to the Joint Task Force-Full Accounting and the
appropriate government officials in the countries that the
Veterans Initiative Task Force visits in Southeast Asia.
The Veterans Initiative continues to meet the
mandates of these two resolutions. The success of the Veterans
Initiative is directly related to the amount and accuracy of the
information we receive. The Veterans Initiative Task Force is in
the process of updating and improving our literature and expanding
the opportunities to present this program.
William C. Duker. Vice Chair: Richard DeLong. Members: Jim Doyle,
Lee Fisher, Tom Hall, Dan Johnson, Bob Maras, Jack Thomas, and Ray
Truelove. Special Advisers: Janet Alheit, Michelle Baugh, Alan
Cook, Patty Fisher, Bruce Linnell, Susan Ragan, and Jeff White.
Staff Coordinator: Mokie Porter.