Remember To March
BY THOMAS H. COREY
Congratulations to everyone who
participated in our successful National Leadership Conference in
Tucson. We came together as a family, treated each other with
respect, and left with a much stronger bond among us than at any
other time in our history.
offer my sincere gratitude to each of the presenters. You all did
a wonderful job evidenced by the attendance, interest, and
participation in those workshops. I heard comments from many of
our members that this was the best VVA Leadership Conference ever.
I also want to recognize and
congratulate the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America on
their highly successful second biennial meeting. AVVA came
together as friends and chose leaders for the next two years. They
shared ideas, skills, and experiences. Thanks to all AVVA members
for their continued support of our common concerns.
Congratulations as well to the
newly elected slate of officers of the Conference of State Council
Presidents. They have a very important role to play in the
day-to-day administration of VVA. I ask each of you to support
them in their efforts.
While in Tucson, we learned that
our dear friend, former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jesse Brown,
passed away following his long battle with Amyotrophic Lateral
Sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gherig's Disease. I was honored
to represent VVA at his funeral. All veterans have lost a true
champion of our cause. Jesse was fond of saying that he was
"Secretary for Veterans Affairs," and he truly was. Please keep
his family in your thoughts and prayers.
On September 6 we were saddened to
learn of the passing of James J. Peters, executive director of the
Eastern Paralyzed Veterans Association in New York. Jim, 57, was a
close personal friend who has been a good and steadfast supporter
of VVA. Jim, who died after a short illness, and Eastern PVA made
significant contributions in support VVA's Veterans Initiative. He
sustained a spinal cord injury in 1967 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia,
where he served as a Second Lieutenant, and Civil Engineer. He
began a life-long career at EPVA in September 1969 as deputy
In 1970, Life magazine
published a landmark article about the deplorable conditions
facing paralyzed Vietnam veterans at the old Bronx VA hospital.
Jim worked with the Life staff, and the publication of the
article forced the VA to build a new Bronx VA Medical Center and
to establish a national Spinal Cord Injury Service.
The loss of these two friends
leaves us all with a sense of loss and mortality. Both fought
their entire adult lives for justice for veterans. We must
continue that fight.
Veterans Day 2002 marks the
twentieth anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial, The Wall. On that day VVA will host the March To
Remember to commemorate the anniversary and pay tribute to friends
like Jesse and Jim, and tens of thousands of others who gave their
lives in defense of freedom and dignity, and in support of those
who serve in uniform today.
Monday, November 11, 2002, is our
day to demonstrate that we at VVA are still In Service To America.
Our battles for justice and compassion continue with the same
passion and enthusiasm we had when we first came together in 1978.
We will March To Remember our
fellow veterans still suffering the ravages of our war -whether it
be Agent Orange-related cancer or birth defects, the burdensome
effects of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, or the tragedy of
families who still wait for news about their loved ones listed as
POW/MIA. We must be prepared to carry that message to everyone,
including the administration and the Congress.
We will March To Remember the
significant progress we have made in the last 24 years on these
and many other issues. We will March To Remember that we still
have a long way to go before we can declare victory.
One of the most critical issues
facing veterans is the failure of the administration to provide
adequate funding for the VA. The VA needs $275 million
immediately, in addition to the minimum of $25.5 billion needed to
maintain service at current levels in the fiscal year that began
October 1. We have met with the director of the Office of
Management and Budget to present our concerns regarding the VA
health care budget.
We will March To Remember at a time
when our nation faces the certainty of war and the certainty of
additional American casualties. We cannot sit quietly while the VA
budget is being held hostage and the safety and welfare of the
entire country hangs in the balance.
It is absolutely imperative that we
come together in Washington on Monday, November 11, where we will
March To Remember and where we will live our Founding Principle,
Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.
We will March To Remember on
November 11 because we will never forget.
Remember our troops.