The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

June/July 2002    
 

Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America
Candidates' Statements

BY JIM BELSHAW

President
Nancy S. Switzer 

My name is Nancy S. Switzer and I am running for the position of National President. My husband, Rick, served in the 25th Infantry in Vietnam. We have two children, Bob, who is going to Miami University, and Stephanie who is trying very hard to become a police officer and is engaged to be married in June of 2003. I can honestly say that they are my most precious achievement in my life. My family has been involved with VVA and AVVA since the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in D.C. 

I have served on the Monroe County Veterans Advisory Committee, the Veterans Outreach Center's Board of Directors, developed the VVA/AVVA Project Friendship program, and teach the coping skills program to spouses and family members of Vietnam veterans who have been exposed to Secondary Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. I have held all positions as associate liaison. I am presently on the National VVA PTSD/Substance Abuse, Women Veterans, Governmental Affairs, Public Affairs committeess. 

For the last three years I have been your President and have continued to keep VVA and AVVA together as a family unit, while recognizing each as a viable yet separate entity. I am proud of our board of directors and how we have developed into a team. We have established the State Structuring Policy for states to become incorporated and it is my ambition to further develop these State Associations and increase their membership.

For the last three years I have worked very hard to have AVVA become an organization that its members would be proud of. Over these last two years we have developed programs that I feel reflect the image of our organization. The Paper Safe, the children's books, the Flag Brochure, the Homeless Grant Program are just a few of these programs. My goal is to continue to develop further programs such as the Service Officer Program which I am now investigating, while enhancing the programs we already have established.


Vice President 
Mary Miller 

Hello! My name is Mary Miller. I am currently the National Vice President for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. I am running again for the office of National Vice President 

I live in Johnstown, Pa., and am affiliated with Chapter 364. I am the widow of the late Tom Miller, who served with the U.S. Marine Corps in Vietnam. I have four children and four grandchildren. My extended family is the people in the VVA and AVVA organizations. 

I have held offices in a Chapter, State, and Regional capacity. I have also served on numerous committees for National VVA. In the past I served on the Minority, Homeless, Employment Training and Business Opportunities (ETABO), and Public Affairs committees. I currently serve on the Public Affairs and Constitution committees.

Since being elected to my position, I have assisted the President in many different areas. I have become the communication link between the president, the board of directors, and the various committees. By maintaining this communication, I have allowed the president to focus on other duties of the office. 

My vision for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., is to continue to grow. I want to see AVVA interact with other organizations, and work together toward goals to achieve services for veterans and their families. Furthermore, I would like to see completion of different projects that have been started, such as Papersafe, National Flag books and articles, and accreditation for the Service Representative Program across the nation.


Treasurer
William Williams 

My name is Bill Williams and I am running for the office of Treasurer. I have been an associate member of VVA since 1986 and AVVA since the incorporation in 1999. I was appointed Treasurer in 1999 and was elected in 2000. 

I believe that in the next two years AVVA will become the organization that was envisioned when we incorporated. We have come a long way in a short time and done many things, and Yes, we made mistakes, but we have learned from these mistakes.

It is my hope that within the next two years we can obtain funding from outside sources to fund the programs that we have in place. We have money set aside now to give back to the members, and as soon as policies and procedures are in place, we will start doing this. I plan on increasing this money every year as AVVA grows. 

I have an excellent working relationship with the VVA National Office and we work hand-in-hand on many things. 

On a final note, I would like to remind all AVVA members that not only is AVVA an organization, but it is also a business. To grow, you explore new ideas, try them, fail or succeed, move on and learn from your failures, and implement your successes. I ask for your support to be your Treasurer for the next two years.


Secretary
Fran Davis 

I became a member of VVA in February 1988 and was appointed the first Associate Liaison for Chapter 309. I was later appointed Illinois State Associate Liaison and then Region 5 Associate Liaison and served continuously until 1999. I am a Life Member of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America and currently serve as National Secretary.

I have received numerous awards and recognitions throughout the past 14 years, including the Legion of Honor in the Chapel of the Four Chaplains. I have served on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Vigil Committee for the state of Illinois since 1989.

I hold a 2-year Executive Secretarial Certificate and am currently Secretarial Assistant to the Director of the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Human Performance Lab in St. Louis, Mo. 

My heart is with the AVVA and VVA membership where I have proudly served for the past 14 years. I hope to be re-elected to the office of National Secretary to continue building this great organization.


Region 1 Director
Kathleen Tauer 

It seems like I just wrote one of these statements, but I have been told it has been almost two years already. My time on the Board has been exciting and fulfilling. We have so many projects in the offing and so much more growing to do. I would like to be part of that process for the next two years. I am hoping my region has faith in me and will vote once again for my presence.

My husband, Rich, and my son, Adrian, are both veterans. It has been a struggle for them both, and I can only hope what we accomplish in the future will make their and all other veterans' lives more bearable. I want my grandkids, other family members, and my friends to remember the lessons that have been taught. I want to be part of a world that remembers yesterday and uses it to build a better tomorrow.  

This hasn't been an easy job the last two years. Everyone wants everything done now or like the VVA. The VVA is a good role model for us but we must also build on our own merits. Every one of the current board members has worked endlessly to build the framework but there is much more to be done. I am asking Region 1 to believe in and support me again by casting their votes in my favor.


Region 2 Director
Margaret Wojciechowicz 

Time really does fly when you're having fun. Hi again, it's Margaret Wojciechowicz, and I've been your AVVA Region 2 Director since March of 1999. I've decided to take another shot at it, and if you, the Region 2 Associates, are behind me and AVVA, there will be no stopping us. 

I live in Rutherford, New Jersey, and am married to my veteran, Tom. I've been involved with VVA/AVVA for about 14 years. I started as Associate Liaison at the Chapter level and then with the New Jersey State Council as Liaison. Over the years, I have been involved with various committees at the local level including membership, hospital, and veterans issues to name a few. At the National VVA level, I sit on the Veterans Against Drugs Committee and Public Affairs Committee. I also serve as AVVA's Legislative Coordinator.

I believe in AVVA, it's a family. We all have our differences, but we never forget the main theme that brings us all together - helping veterans and their families. I encourage each of you to get involved, get the kids and grandkids involved - we will never let the Vietnam veteran be forgotten.  

If elected to the position, I hope that we will continue to go forward working together with and for our veterans.


Region 3 Director
Elaine Simmons 

I am running for the position of Region 3 Director. As the current Region 3 Director, it has been my goal to help the members of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America and Vietnam Veterans of America form a solid working partnership throughout Region 3. 

My hope is that this working partnership will grow stronger in the future. During my last term in office, I visited with every single state in Region 3 and worked with many State and Chapter Reps. 

I am a past Chapter Rep for Blue-Gray Chapter 628, past West Virginia State Rep, and the First West Virginian, in 1998, to be awarded the Legion of Honor by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Currently, I serve as the Chairperson for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Policy and Procedure Committee, and I am the Liaison for the Chapel of Four Chaplains for the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America.


Region 4 Director
Mary Yeomans 

I have been a member of Vietnam Veterans of America and now Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America since 1988. I have served in many committee positions at the chapter level. I have also had the privilege to serve as the VVA appointed Florida State Liaison from 1994 through 2001. I served as the appointed VVA Region 4 Liaison from 1994 through 1996 and again from 1998 through the formation of AVVA in January 1999.  

I was appointed to the founding incorporating board of directors of AVVA at the meeting in January 1999. It has been my pleasure to serve as the elected Region 4 Director position for the past two years. The board of directors has made great progress in the last 3 years and I look forward to continued progress in the years to come. I take great pride in representing my region at the national level and hope I am allowed to continue to represent Region 4.


Region 5 Director
Patricia A. Fisher 

Patty has a long history of involvement with Vietnam Veterans of America and now the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America. She initially joined VVA on April 27, 1992, becoming a life member on August 3, 1993. She has filled the position of Associate Liaison for Chapters 34, 717, and now 900. She also held the Associate Liaison for Ohio State Council for 4 years. She is now the AVVA Liaison for the Buckeye State Council. She is presently a member of two national committees: Minority Affairs and Veterans Initiative Task Force. Patty has attended many National Board Meetings, Council of State Presidents meetings, National Conventions, and National Leadership Conferences. 

Patty is married to Lee Fisher, present Buckeye State Council President. They have three grown daughters and one black lab. She is very active in Native American Culture, and some of her beadwork is on sale at Veterans Collectibles. 

"My reason for seeking the position of Region 5 Director is that I feel that by working with the board and bringing what expertise I have accumulated during my time with VVA and AVVA, together we can make a difference and bring AVVA from infancy into its rightful place in the eyes of the Vietnam veterans and the public arena."


Region 5 Director 
Judith Bolio

  • Membership 

15 years Chapter 299, Rock Island, Illinois 1987-88; Chapter 219 Westfield, Massachusetts, 1988-94; Chapter 669 Moline, Illinois, 1994-Present 

  • Service

1.VVA Associate Liaison - 12 years off and on

2. AVVA Illinois State Rep. since Fran Davis went to National AVVA Secretary

3. Assistant Recording Secretary--7 years Massachusetts

4. Organized dinners for the homeless

5. Worked brat fries for homeless with Illinois State Council, VVA Chapter 669, and State Homeless Committee

6. Worked Bingo with Chapter 299 on Saturday nights and Illinois State Council on Sunday nights.

7. Attended dedication of Illinois VVA Memorial and Annual Vigil in Springfield, Illinois.

8.Helped at Moving Wall in Rock Island, Illinois.

9. Attend various ceremonies and parades during the year

10.Attend most funerals with Honor Guard

11. Have attended most State Council and Region 5 meetings - past 6 years

12. Helped send others and myself to VVA National Convention, Anaheim; 1st Biennial Meeting and Elections, Buffalo, New York; and 1st National AVVA Leadership             Conference, Greensboro, North Carolina.

13.Visited VA Hospitals and Nursing homes.

 

My goals are to work with our veterans and Associates to see that our membership grows; to see that our homeless are fed, get health care, and are sheltered; that our government takes its responsibility for Agent Orange and other veterans and family health concerns; and I would like to see our states model their state AVVA organizations after our National AVVA Organization and to start working on our AVVA Affiliated Chapter issues.


Region 6
Jeani Wells

Jeani Wells has served as Coordinator of the Northland Family Care Center for 16 years. She started as a volunteer with MLM in 1983. She has also been doing case management of homeless veterans in the MLM Homeless Service Center mornings, and then running the emergency assistance center the remainder of the day.

Jeani has been an Associate member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 317 since 1989. She was the Missouri State and National Associate Member of the Year in 1994. She is currently the Chapter's Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America Liaison, and a member of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America National Board of Directors. She is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America National Homeless Veterans Task Force and the Vietnam Veterans of America National Veterans Incarcerated Committee.

Jeani has been working with homeless veterans on the streets of Kansas City for about 13 years, bringing them food and clothing twice a week. She has also worked with incarcerated veterans for the past nine years and is a certified volunteer in Corrections for the State of Missouri. 

Jeani has five children, four boys and one girl, the youngest is 18 and getting ready to graduate from High School. Her daughter is 19 and attending Park University. She also has four grandchildren that are the light of her life and is an avid Chief's fan.


Region 7 Director
Patsy Varnell 

My name is Patsy Varnell, the incumbent candidate for Region 7 AVVA Director. I have served as the Region 7 Director since June 2002. During my term of office, I have traveled throughout the region, meeting the members, learning their concerns, promoting AVVA, and resolving issues. In an effort to help the members, Affiliated Chapter Representatives, and State Representatives gain a better understanding of AVVA, a Regional AVVA Leadership Conference was presented in 2001. Rewarding accomplishments is a valuable building tool, so an Affiliated Chapter of the Year Award was presented to the outstanding affiliated chapter of each state within the Region. Plus, one AVVA member was named Region 7 AVVA Member of the Year. Those awards will be presented for the second year in June 2002.

AVVA is a work in progress and enjoys a depth of development that is advanced for its age, which is a result of the leadership it has had from its inception. In spite of our accomplishments, though, there is still much to be done. My goal is to continue working to bring infrastructure to the members by taking AVVA from strictly a large national organization to one with incorporated state structures, future chapter levels of government, increased programs, increased national exposure to other organizations, mentoring our State and Affiliated Chapter Representatives to enlarge their leadership skills, continuing to help the veteran community, increased legislative involvement, and to broaden our source of income to establish a sound, growing financial base that will permit future assistance to the members. 

I want to thank the members of the VVA/AVVA family within Region 7 for giving me the opportunity to serve you, and for the learning experiences that accompany that service. I hope to be able to continue the work that has begun.


Region 9
Sonja Holybee 

Affiliated with Chapter 223 

Husband, Kenneth Holybee; three children, Stephanie, Melisa, and Daniel; disabled housewife - volunteer extraordinaire; High School GED

Achievements Awards - 1993 Chapter 223 associate member of the year, 1998 California State Council Associate of the Year, 1999 Cindy Rheinheimer Community Service Award. (This is a special award only given occasionally and named for a special daughter, Cindy Rheinheimer of Sons & Daughters in Touch, for all that you do not only in your community but also in helping at other events.) 

I am a past Little League Treasurer and President for 5 years. I donate blood regularly. I help do the state newsletter and help with other projects when time allows. 

Positions - CSC Associate Liaison, Region 9 Liaison, Region 9 Director. 

Goals - to continue to see AVVA grow and become the strong viable organization that we can be. To help veterans and families in all ways.

   

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