In early July, Deborah
King-Williams, VVA's accounting specialist and Veterans Against
Drugs' program facilitator, and Steve Robinson, executive
director of the National Gulf War Resource Center, visited the
Kingman Boys and Girls Club in Washington, D.C. "Working with
the VAD program is very rewarding," King-Williams said. "Just
watching the children get excited about learning and sharing
their ideas and experiences is a real pleasure. I am honored to
be able to bring this wonderful program to the D.C. area where I
went to school and my children and grandchildren go to school."
"Deborah cares," Veterans Against
Drugs chair Herb Worthington said. "When I saw the pictures and
heard the stories of what a great time everyone including the
children had, I knew we had a winner and another VAD success
"The program is starting to take hold and is growing at a
favorable pace," Worthington added. "With King-William's help,
the program has been given more validity by being represented in
the Nation's Capital." Worthington felt that the Medal of Honor
recipients and members of other veterans organizations are
realizing the impact VVA is making. Worthington said he felt
this program could very well be a legacy for Vietnam Veterans of
Robinson led a discussion of key
values identified by VAD. These values include: respect and
camaraderie, loyalty and compassion, honesty and integrity,
meaningful achievement, and advocacy. He punctuated his talk
with examples from his own life in the military. "It was a great
experience to meet the children and speak from the heart about
concepts like honor, trust, respect, courage, and confidence,"
Robinson said. The children shared their thoughts on the meaning
of these words and related real-world experiences from their
neighborhoods, families, and friends.
"If you are a veteran and are
asked to participate in this program, I suggest you do,"
Robinson said. "It was cathartic to relate my military training
and experience to the students and teach them how to be good
citizens, students, and children. Make no mistake: these kids
were street savvy and smart. They face obstacles at their young
age that I could have never imagined. However, what I noticed
was that because I cared, they cared to listen. They need our
mentorship. I encourage all veterans to help these young
children make good choices."
During a second VAD session later
in the month, Nathan "Nat" Slayton, VVA's National Veterans
Service Representative, visited the same children to follow up
on Robinson's lesson. Slayton, who served in the Coast Guard
from 1970 to 1977, shared those experiences with the students.
Slayton gave the students an example of camaraderie. He said
that when he joined the Coast Guard he didn't know how to swim,
and during a training exercise he fell overboard. He had to
depend on his shipmates to rescue him, which they did in less
than two minutes. Slayton said, "Things happen to people who do
not follow directions." Slayton also told the students how
important it is always to be truthful and to take responsibility
for their actions. "In life there are rules and regulations that
everyone has to live by and you should always admit if you are
wrong. But stick to your guns if you are right," he advised.
"Much of my life, I have heard
statements such as, 'If you are not part of the solution, you
are part of the problem,' but I seldom hear what people are
doing to help. Often we do not know what assistance people need,
but if we make ourselves available, we can help." Slayton felt
that the students participated well, were extremely attentive,
and that they made it easy for him to make his presentation. He
said that he felt inspired by the students and hoped that
something he said would help the students stay out of trouble
and develop stronger values and beliefs.
When Slayton was finished,
King-Williams gave a quiz, "Were you Listening?" on Robinson's
previous presentation. The children were divided into
"companies" and given five minutes to answer five questions. The
winner was Company B, which gave extra answers. Each member was
rewarded with a VAD t-shirt. All of the groups gave accurate and
unique answers about what they learned from Robinson.
During a question-and-answer
period, students gave personal examples of honesty, loyalty, and
camaraderie. Some of the students performed skits, giving
animated examples of doing something wrong or whether they told
the truth when asked. Some of the examples were comical, such as
telling the truth about who ate the ice cream, or very serious,
like hurting someone's feeling.
Students who gave correct answers
were rewarded with t-shirts, key chains, and flags. Every
student was a winner.