Vietnam Veterans of America
SEMIANNUAL COMMITTEE REPORTS
Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee
BY PAUL SUTTON, CHAIR
The Committee is responsible for sixteen
Convention Resolutions, more than any other national
committee. The 2001 Convention Resolutions require the
committee to identify legislative and administrative
objectives and to focus our energy and resources as an
effective catalyst. We are reporting the committee's
status on these Resolutions in the categories upon which we
place them, without regard for chronological sequence.
Committee Resolutions AO-1-01, AO-5-01,
AO-11-01, AO-12-01, AO-13-01 and AO-15-01 require the
committee to argue for:
Research in Vietnam funded at a level of $5
Million per year over a five to six year period. While not yet
a reality, strides were made this year with the MOU between
Vietnam and the United States, signed in March 2003, to
conduct research in Vietnam. The next battle will come in
convincing Congress to fund this multilevel research in which
we will seek a mandate requiring monies for NIEHS that would
be utilized exclusively for Agent Orange/Dioxin research in
Research in the United States at a level of at
least $100 million in aggregate funding to do research
independently performed but funded by the federal government
that would include, but not be limited to, a national
epidemiological study focused on Vietnam veterans and adverse
health impact of exposure to Agent Orange and other toxic
substances and experiences in military service as well as
birth defects in progeny of male Vietnam veterans.
research will depend upon the early results of the research in
Vietnam, giving both direction and emphasis to adverse health
impacts of exposure experienced by Vietnam veterans. This
effort was especially helped by the recently completed review
of the birth defects data from the U.S. Air Force Ranch Hand
Study results conducted at the Yale University School of
Nursing, assisted by a grant of $10,000 from VVAF and overseen
by the committee.
Review death certificates of veterans, children and
their grandchildren. Another $7,500 grant from VVAF funded a
new study, the Death Records Registry, currently underway in
cooperation with the VVA National Chaplain's office and the
Yale University School of Nursing, overseen by the committee,
focusing initially on the deaths of VVA members.
Identify veterans in Times Beach, Missouri. and
other dioxin-contaminated sites in the United States. This
effort is still in the discussion stages, with further talks
scheduled for early 2003.
Compile database at Library of Congress or
National Institutes of Health and National Institute of
Environmental Health Study of all relevant toxic chemical
studies and surveys, including state studies. This is in the
planning stages with talks between NIEHS and this committee
Fund fully the National Institute of Veterans
Health at the National Institutes of Health. This prototypical
legislation did not get out of committee during 2002 and will
be re-introduced in the 108th Congress.
Additional birth defects studies and presumptive
connections where indicated; study birth defects in second and
third generations. This also will depend upon the early
results of the research in Vietnam, giving both direction and
emphasis to research on birth defects.
Advocate for presumptive service-connection of all
cancers diagnosed in Vietnam veterans, and amend P. L. 102-4,
require that NAS to consider all studies that are relevant to
use of chemicals and in relation to burden of proof on
scientific studies in Vietnam. This legislation did not get
out of committee during 2002 and will be re-introduced in the
Mandate that NAS make a statement on diseases as
to whether it is just as likely as not that Agent
Orange/Dioxin could have caused the illness. This will require
congressional action, action which has not been high on
anyone=s radar this year.
Mandate research regarding cancers in veterans and
their families at Camp LeJeune, N.C. The Marine Corps and the
Department of Defense are still trying to find all military
personnel and their dependents who were exposed to the
chemicals in the water supply at this base.
The Committee and the national staff have worked to
seek congressional oversight hearings that address many
concerns. These include the disparity between Agent Orange
claims filed versus claims granted and lack of Agent Orange
Research. We would like secondary conditions for
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma to be placed in part 4 of Title 38 CFR.
Service connection is being sought for other appropriate
conditions related to Agent Orange exposure and other
exposures due to service in Vietnam (the "In-Country" effect)
as well as for secondary illnesses induced by or exacerbated
by exposure to Agent Orange or other toxic substances in
military service or by chronic acute PTSD.
The committee is seeking legislation or regulations
to add men to P. L. 106-419 for birth defects. Under current
law, only women veterans may seek service-connected
would like to implement the treating physician rule: establish
the principle that the treating physician's opinion holds more
weight in determining a rating decision in the Veterans
Benefits Administration proceedings. Additionally, we seek
legislation to provide VA benefits to children of all veterans
who suffer birth defects attributed to service in Vietnam.
Finally, we would like to authorize, mandate, and fund
additional birth defect studies with presumptive service
connection if indicated by study outcome.
Continue to pursue Agent Orange research in
Vietnam. The committee's participation in the scientific
conference in Hanoi in March 2002, as well as at the Yale
Vietnam Conference in September 2002, has led to the
recognition of VVA as the catalyst for the initiation of this
research, an effort that was more than nine years in the
Committee Resolutions AO-2-01, AO-7-01,
AO-8-01, AO-10-01 and AO-16-01 require the committee to:
Develop a plan for VVA's involvement in national
healthcare discussions and initiatives. The committee has
worked with the VVA Healthcare Committee to maximize
congressional awareness of organization's commitment to these
Continue to lobby Congress for adequate funding
for DVA/VHA, which the Committee has done through its work
with both the VVA Healthcare and Government Affairs
Committees. This effort, over the past 18 months, has
primarily been via letter writing and e-mail, as well as
face-to-face interaction with members of Congress while in
their home districts.
Participate with VA committees, Consumer Councils,
etc., at all levels
within VA. As opportunities have
presented themselves, appointments to appropriate bodies have
been sought so that VVA may represent its views and present
solutions to VA decision-makers. The committee has utilized
the expertise of the chair of the committee's
Subcommittee on Environmental Hazards to the great benefit of
VVA and the Committee.
Continue working with outside
agencies to bring necessary testing, screening, and
information to veterans outside the VA - an effort that, to
date, has introduced VVA to these organizations and permitted
our membership to attend their meetings and represent our
Because of this committee's commitment to the Agent Orange
network mandated by Resolution AO-9-01, the committee
Provide chapters and state councils
important resources for programs assisting veterans or their
Standardize VVA approaches to
issues, including legislative advocacy, concerning veterans
and family members most at risk.
Promote VVA's external leadership
on this issue by focusing VVA=s internal leadership.
The committee's quarterly mailing to all state councils,
committee members, Special Advisers and board members
continues to be an effective means of providing current
information as mandated by Resolution AO-3-01.
The Committee purchases and distributes copies of the NVLSP
Self-help Guide On Agent Orange, with nearly 8,000 copies
provided to chapters and state councils, as well as at
National Leadership Conferences since 1999 as mandated by
The goals and objectives of the committee underscore the
Vision of the VVA Strategic Plan by continuing our mastery of
leading the challenge to do what is right for America's
tragically under-cared-for veterans exposed to Agent Orange
and their offspring who suffer from that parental exposure.
They characterize the mission of the Strategic Plan by
bringing together all levels of VVA to advocate for, provide
much-needed programs, and be of service to our communities, as
mandated by Convention Resolution AO-6-01. And they confront
the goals of the Strategic Plan by carrying forward the
Committee's plan to identify and prioritize legislative
objectives; maintain, expand and support the network of Agent
Orange activists; provide direct services where suitable;
conduct training for all levels of VVA; continue and expand,
the positive communications for which VVA is renowned; and by
doing so, promote positive community change, as stated in
Convention Resolution AO-14-01.
Chair: Paul Sutton. Vice Chair:
Dr. Linda Schwartz. Members: Lois Beck, Thomas Berger, James
Branum, David Carter, John "JD"
Davis, Ken Deal, William Dumsick, Alan Gibson, Michael Lay,
Darrel Martin, Robert Stocker, and Jack Thomas. Special
Advisers: George Claxton, Fran Davis, Catherine Green, and
Gerald Ney. Staff Coordinator: Jennifer Oliver
Government Affairs Committee
AVERY TAYLOR, CHAIR
The Government Affairs Committee has been
active on multiple fronts and has been successful in some initiatives and unsuccessful in
others. VVA national president Tom Corey and various state council presidents have met with
their congressional delegations and lobbied for increased funding for VA Health Care in FY03. We
are in the initial stages of forming a partnership with the National Prostate Cancer Coalition to
lobby for increased funding for the DoD Center for Prostate Disease Research and other
In August, members of the committee met
with members of the Health Care Committee in a two-day retreat to gain a better understanding
of what we need to be doing, to identify priorities, and to define strategies for addressing these
priorities. The following describes where we stand on each of the Government Affairs
G-1-01 The Veterans Vote! Campaign.
Packets were distributed to state councils and chapters this summer. We also are
encouraging every state council and chapter to have voter registration materials available at every
meeting and event this year.
G-2-01 The Legislative Coordinators
Network. A presentation was prepared and delivered at the Region 3 conference and
the National Leadership Conference describing what can be found on the VVA Government Affairs
Web site and how to use this tool effectively to leverage the veterans' voice in
legislatures. This presentation can be made to any VVA group with appropriate arrangements.
G-3-01 Support for the National Gulf
War Resource Center. VVA provides financial support to NGWRC and is currently active
in collaborating with the department regarding SHAD and DoD.
G-4-01 Extension of Vietnam Conflict
Ending Date and Eligibility for Vietnam Service Medal. There was no legislative
activity on this issue during the 107th Congress. The committee will keep this issue on the
legislative agenda and continue to press for action.
Center Eligibility for Vietnam-era Veterans. Public Law 106-117 extended Vet Center eligibility to December 31,
2003. However, the Vet Center readjustment counseling resources services must be expanded to
meet the needs of all veterans who receive services from the Vet Centers. VVA will continue to
support this resolution.
G-6-01 Establishment by the
VA of More
Convenient Sites for Veterans Hearings. The VA has eliminated hearings at the
central office and now contacts veterans by telephone and video conferences for their hearings. This
resolution will be retired at the next convention.
G-7-01 Service Connection for Hepatitis
C. VVA will continue in the 108th Congress to get legislation introduced and passed for
service-connection for hep C.
G-8-01 Re-establishment of
Service-connected Disability in Certain Tobacco-related Illnesses. There was no legislative
activity on this issue during the 107th Congress.
G-9-01 Commemoration of 50th
Anniversary of the End of the Korean War. The national office keeps a calendar pursuant
to this resolution so that VVA is represented on the dates and memorial occasions specified in
the resolution. This resolution will be satisfied November 11, 2003.
Purple Heart Commemorative Stamp. The Purple Heart postage stamp will be included in the 2003 stamp program.
However, the date and location of the initial issue has not been determined. This will be a 37-cent,
First Class stamp available for an indefinite period, as opposed to the year-long sales used for
Avery Taylor. Vice Chair: Dr. Linda Schwartz. Members: Marsha
Four, Alan Gibson, Calvin Gross, Jerry Klein, Allen Manuel, Robert
Maras, Steve Mason, John Miner, Steve Mulcahy, and Paul Sutton.
Special Advisers: Nancy Switzer and Phil Litteer. Staff
Membership Affairs Committee
BY BILL MEEKS, JR., CHAIR
M-1-01 Verification and Security
of DD Form 214. Requires that all applicants for individual
membership in VVA must provide a copy of their DD Form 214 or
other acceptable documentation establishing eligibility for
membership. These documents are to be kept at the local level in a
confidential and secure manner in accordance with the provisions
of the Constitution. Verification to the national organization
shall be done by the local chapter secretary or, in the absence of
the secretary, a designated chapter official.
Every new membership application
received in the national office is checked to be sure that a DD
Form 214 is submitted and that the nature and dates of service
conform to the membership eligibility criteria. The same is done
for all new life membership applications, even those from current
individual members. In cases of missing DD Form 214s or those that
do not meet the eligibility criteria, the member is contacted. If
the issue can't be resolved, the applicant is offered membership
M-2-01 Communication Between
VVA's Organizational Levels. Recognizes that the national
office must reply to all communications from state councils and
chapters within five working days and state councils and chapters
must reply to all communications from the national office within
ten working days. The Membership Director and Staff and the
Membership Chair and Committee respond on a daily basis to all
communications pertaining to membership.
The Membership Affairs Committee is
continuing to provide a direct avenue for the membership to
express its concerns, problems, and ideas to the committee through
the Membership Affairs Committee and State Council Membership
Chair (MACSCMC) contact list. Also, periodical updates pertaining
to membership are sent to the MACSCMC contact list. The State
Council Membership Chair then provides the distribution to the
M-3-01 Membership Growth and
Retention. Requires, at all levels in VVA, the development of
a master plan to recruit and retain members, using all available
resources on a priority basis. The VVA Membership Master Plan
Recruitment and Retention was approved on September 13, 2001, by
the committee and was implemented immediately.
The M.E.R.I.T. Program is currently
in its third recruiting period. The program is designed to
increase membership in VVA. The Committee is pursuing ways to
address the needs of our members, seek new avenues to become more
attractive to potential members, and devise ways to better serve
the needs of our membership. One such improvement is the new
feature on the VVA web site, a membership application that can be
downloaded, thus speeding up delivery to potential members and
saving the expense of postage to VVA.
The VVA Membership M.E.R.I.T.
Program was approved in March by the Membership Committee and the
Board of Directors. The M.E.R.I.T. Program is designed to provide
national recognition to VVA members who have achieved excellence
in membership recruitment at the VVA chapter or state council
level. Our second recruiting period started September 1, 2002, and
VVA members started their roundup of new members across the
country until the recruiting deadline closed on October 23, 2002.
With the results in and the verification process completed by the
Membership Committee and the Membership Department, we're ready to
announce the winner.
Our top recruiter for the second
recruiting period is Al Brusetti of Chapter 77 in Amherst, New
York, who recruited 14 new members. Al wins a VVA life membership.
The runner-up is Bill Tallerdy of Chapter 849 in Cheyenne,
Wyoming, with 11 new members. Congratulations.
The third recruiting for the
M.E.R.I.T. Program period started October 24 and runs to December
Chair: Bill Meeks, Jr. Vice Chair: Lupe Alviar, Jr.
Members: Tom Berger, Fred Elliott, Hank Evans, Ned Foote, Charlie Montgomery, Charlie Richardson, and Dick Southern. Special Adviser: Marcia Hicks.
Staff Coordinator: Ernestine Horton.
Minority Affairs Committee
F. IVARRA, CHAIR
Affairs Committee met on Thursday, November 7, at the Holiday Inn,
Silver Spring, Maryland. Items on the agenda included: Name change
of the Committee; outlining the mission, vision, and goals of the
Committee; developing an informational pamphlet; restructuring the
Committee; preparing for the seminar, presentation, or exhibit at
the National Convention; the Puerto Rico resolution; and improving
our visibility and increasing our diverse veterans membership.
Members present: Chair Francisco F. Ivarra, Simon Sierra, Carol
Near, Lee Fisher, Patricia Fisher, Jerry Yamamoto, Jorge Pedroza,
and Richard LaBarre. Special guests: Marty Ronan, Ed Chow, and
Affairs Committee seminar at the National Leadership Conference in
Tucson was successful. Charles Nesby, director of the VA Center
for Minority Veterans, discussed the VA's efforts to help minority
veterans. The following provided historical information on the
military contributions made by minority veterans: Gumersindo
Gomez, Joe Jennings, and Simon Sierra.
president Ed Chow arranged the minority veterans' caucus, which
gave participants an opportunity to discuss the future of minority
veterans within Vietnam Veterans of America.
unanimously passed the following motions at the November 7
1. That a
letter of support requesting the construction of a new hospital in
Puerto Rico be written by President Tom Corey to Veterans
Administration secretary Anthony Principi.
2. That the
Minority Affairs Committee change its name to the Advisory
Committee on Diversity.
3. That the
committee develop an informational pamphlet outlining the mission,
vision, and goals of the committee at no cost to VVA National.
4. That the
committee restructure the vice chair position to include Regional
Chairs representing five national geographical locations: East
Coast, Gumersindo Gomez; Midwest, Joe Jennings; West Coast, Jerry
Yamamoto; and Puerto Rico, Jorge Pedroza. The Southern
representative is yet to be identified, but Albert Q. Lewis from
Georgia is being considered for the position.
5. That the
committee plan a Minority Veterans Issues Seminar for the National
Convention in St. Louis.
6. That the
committee and the Puerto Rico VVA State Council consider hosting a
hospitality room for VVA members attending the National Convention
in St. Louis at no cost to VVA National.
Committee members submit articles to The VVA Veteran for
publication that reflect the interest of our diverse veterans
8. That the
Committee accept the following new members: Frank Cordero, Mel
Sheldon, Larry Frazee, William Luna, Fernando Rodriguez, and Jerry
Francisco Ivarra. Members: Lee Fisher, Virgie Hibbler, Joe
Jennings, Richard LaBarre, Mark Lumpkin, Arnold Pinckney, Carlton
Rhodes, Fara Sanchez, Simon Sierra, Connie Steers, Mel Sheldon,
Larry Frazee, Frank Cordero, Jerry Yamamoto, Gumersindo Gomez,
Albert Q. Lewis, and Fernando Rodriquez. Special Advisors:
Patricia Fisher and Carol Near. Staff Coordinator: Deborah
POW/MIA Affairs Committee
BY LARRY KLEIN, CHAIR
As stated in
the VVA Constitution, "The POW/MIA 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 members as called upon."
Board meeting scheduling has been such that the full committee has
not had the opportunity to meet since my appointment as committee
chair in mid-August 2002. This in no way means that the POW/MIA
Committee has been idle. At the Leadership Conference, the members
present were brought up-to-date on the procedures of the
identification of remains of those listed as POW/MIA and tracking
down last-known-alive and live-sighting cases. Thomas McKay from
DIA in Stony Beach, Hawaii, was very thorough and spent several
hours answering everyone's questions.
18, 2002, just two days before National POW/MIA Recognition Day,
and with the help of my predecessor, Bruce Linnell, and Mokie
Pratt Porter and Carol Engle from the National Communications
Department, as well as Sharon Hodge, the committee staff
coordinator, a POW/MIA link to the VVA web site was opened. If you
have not done so already, click on the link and check it out. Your
comments and suggestions will always be welcomed.
20, National POW/MIA Recognition Day, members of the VVA staff,
the great Color/Honor Guard from Rochester, New York, and myself
laid wreaths at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Women's
Memorial, and the Korean Memorial. Later that day, several of us
attended the national ceremony at the Pentagon by special
invitation of the Secretary of Defense.
With the help
of Linnell and committee members, and in line with the VVA
Constitution, a POW/MIA distribution list consisting of 36 State
POW/MIA Chairs, committee members, and over 200 interested VVA and
AVVA members has been started. With such sources as the League and
Alliance of Families, DPMO, DoD, DIA, CILHI, JTF-FA, SDIT, and
Bill Bell, I have received so much information, I have been able
to increase my distribution level from one to three times a week.
With all the
information that is available, there is still much to be done. At
the next committee meeting, the issue of education will be looked
at very closely. VVA has to take the lead to develop a program to
educate both our young people as well as older people, our
educators, and our elected officials on the POW/MIA issue. If we
are going to keep the POW/MIA issue alive, which is a must, we
have to get back into the education mode. It is up to each of us
to educate the uneducated, but more importantly, it is up to each
of us to reeducate those who think they are already educated. This
is a must, and as the chair of the POW/MIA, it is my goal.
Larry Klein. Members: Dan Carr, Hank Evans, Buster Holmberg, Bob
Johnson, Don Johnson, Doug Perkins, John Rowan, Frank Stacey, Jack
Thomas, and Ben Humphries. Special Advisers: Michelle Baugh, Mike
Benge, Bill Duker, Kaye Gardner, and Susie Reagan. Staff
Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee
BY STEVE MASON, CHAIR
This proactive committee is focused
on satisfying the attainable goals set forth at the 2001 National
Convention in the form of Resolutions PTSD 01-07. Each of these
well-intentioned resolutions represents a good and significant
intent of the membership to serve the needs of all those affected
by this all-pervasive condition which presents both emotional and
physical problems. In truth, PTSD is the one malady that crosses
all other conditions and necessarily interfaces with all other VVA
It becomes immediately apparent
that the language of these resolutions in the main requires far
more than urging the VHA to cooperate. These resolutions must have
legislative teeth in the form of law if they are to be brought to
fruition. As an aside, this Chair heartily endorses that all
future resolutions passed by membership should include a projected
fiscal impact and a reasonable statement of how they are to be
The PTSD/SA Committee does not wish
to return to membership at the next convention with a continuing,
unresolved agenda. It quite simply is trying to implement plans to
satisfy the needs of its membership and those we are sworn to
The committee is now reducing the
pertinent resolutions to language appropriate for the Government
Affairs Committee to finalize and offer as bills for consideration
on Capitol Hill.
This committee is at present
focusing on several issues that do not require legislative muscle.
1. It is establishing a coordinated
effort throughout our organization to train each great state how
to provide family counseling to its members.
2. It is attempting in one state to
establish a grassroots movement to insure that veterans
incarcerated suffering the ravages of PTSD are properly served
medically and psychologically.
3. It is continuing to urge that
long-term care for the chronically mentally ill is established
beyond the 100 days presently considered long term at the VAMCs.
4. It remains a staunch supporter
of the Vet-Center programs and will lobby for additional funding
to insure that against the background of September 11 and
potentially imminent war that the exacerbated symptoms of PTSD on
veterans and their significant others is increased.
5. It maintains that substance
abuse should and must be recognized by the VHA as requiring an
increase in services not a reduction.
6. It maintains that the in-house
arbitrary rating system of PTSD by the VHA is too inconsistent to
be reliable by even their own evaluators.
Further, this committee believes
that due to its singular and all-pervasive need, it should
seriously consider justifying itself as a standing committee at
the next National Convention. It will further move to create
substance abuse as a subcommittee under its auspices. The mission
of the PTSD/SA can certainly not be absorbed or come under the
umbrella of another committee.
The need for interaction between it
and all other committees is one of cooperation, crossover, and
sustained good will. There can be no doubt that this committee
satisfies all aspects of the VVA Strategic Plan.
I remain honored to serve as chair
of this committee and to serve with my teammates who comprise it.
Chair: Steve Mason. Vice Chair:
Father Phil Salois. Members: Lupe Alviar, Lawrence, Goucher, Sandy
Miller, and Wayne Reynolds. Special Advisers: Dee Hagge, Nancy
Switzer, Susan Rozalski, and Mary Yeomans. Staff Coordinator:
Public Affairs Committee
BY JIM DOYLE, CHAIR
I want to salute and thank the members of the
Public Affairs Committee for their efforts supporting the March To
Remember in Washington on Veterans Day 2002.
The committee met during the Board meeting and
immediately went to work on a list of activities that helped
assure the success of this remarkable event. The committee
contributed to every aspect of the preparation and completion of
this historic march.
From making signs and stapling them to wooden
sticks, to making press calls and personal visits to local
television and radio stations, Public Affairs Committee members
answered the call to duty.
Without the focused energy of the National
Communications & Publications staff, much of the success of the
March To Remember would not have been possible. Since last January
that department has been busy identifying opportunities,
developing strategies, organizing media coverage, and pursuing
maximum exposure for VVA.
My sincere thanks to everyone involved in one of
the finest examples of teamwork in VVA history.
Now our mission is clear. It is up to each of us to
March To Remember every day.
P-1-01 Community Service. Chapters and state
councils continue to participate actively in local community
P-2-01 Children's Welfare. Individual
members, chapters, and state councils are in the forefront of
insuring the protection and well being of children in the United
States and throughout the world through various services and
P-3-01 Chapter Involvement with Education.
Using the VVA Education Guidebook as a resource, VVA members are
involved at every level of the educational process, including the
development and implementation of curricula.
P-4-01 Regulation Of Certain Activities at the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial. VVA continues to cooperate with the
National Park Service in developing and enforcing appropriate
restrictions on activities at The Wall.
P-5-01 Endorsement for Participation In Local
Environmental Efforts. VVA members lead local efforts to
assure a safe environment.
P-6-01 Biennial Publication of the VVA
Constitution and Resolutions. This resolution is carried out
by the Communications and Publications Department.
P-7-01 Report Semiannual Progress on All
Convention Resolutions. You are reading the fulfillment of
P-8-01 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial. VVA
and AVVA members continue their active stewardship of the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial through a variety of activities and programs.
This resolution reinforces the notion that this memorial is our
memorial and that we must be actively involved with its
maintenance, promotion, and respectful use.
P-9-01 Vietnam War In Memory Plaque. VVA was
the first organization to support and encourage the completion of
this project that recognizes the sacrifice of those who returned
home from Vietnam only to die later as a direct result of their
P-10-01 Recognition of the Veterans Against
Drugs Task Force. VAD is an expanding program that offers
young people the opportunity to choose life over drugs.
P-11-01 Support for the Chapel of Four Chaplains
Recognition Program. VVA and AVVA members are active
participants in this noteworthy program of recognition for those
who contribute their efforts to supporting veterans and their
Chair: Jim Doyle. Members: Alan Cook, Tom Hall,
Larry Klein, Bruce Linnell, James
Mason, John Miner, Charlie Mitchem, Will Schwartz, Jack Thomas,
Avery Taylor, Ray Truelove, and Dennis St. Germaine. Special
Advisers: Herb Hankerson, Mary Miller, Joyce Miner, Charlotte
Rebillard, John Rowan, Nancy Switzer, Margaret Wojciechowicz,
Ginny Richards, George Duggins, Joanne Harkins, and Dick
Southern.Staff Coordinator: Mokie Pratt Porter.
Veteran Affairs Committee
BY ROBERT MARAS, CHAIR
We have reached a critical point
now that new VA regulations have been put into place regarding
individuals who are 50 percent and higher and those who are lower
than that. We must push Congress to make sure that anyone who
needs to access VA health care is not turned away or not given
adequate services. Remember: "United We Bargain, Divided We Beg.''
We must now come together and work even harder to make sure that
no veteran is forgotten.
We are facing many issues: Agent
Orange, hep-C, and a host of other illnesses. We must also push to
make sure that VA funding becomes mandated funding, not
discretionary as it now. If we can win this point, we can make
sure that we have the funds to take care of our brothers and
sisters and not take the crumbs that are left over.
We must fight harder for our women
veterans who for far too long have been on the back burner. We
must seek additional methods of taking care of those individuals
who suffer from PTSD and their families so that they can become
productive members of society again. The CARES project that the VA
has started must change the way it is set up. I do not feel it
helps those individuals who truly need help. There are a host of
changes that need to be made in this area.
V-1-01 Veterans Health Care.
This is an area that now has a Standing Committee within the
V-2-01 Brain Wound Research.
The Committee will continue to work to support and monitor the
Brain Research Project at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
V-3-01 Veterans With HIV
Infection. Members of the committee have met with the VA
official in charge of HIV treatment and is working to strengthen
privacy protection and quality assurance. We recommend
reaffirmation of this Resolution.
V-4-01 VAVS, the Department of
Veterans Affairs Voluntary Services Program. The committee
will continue this Resolution and continue to support its efforts
in this area.
V-5-01 Veterans Environmental
Health Effects, dealing with adverse effects from the
environments in which American military personnel serve. The
committee continues to press the VA and DOD to do proper
pre-deployment physicals and store blood and tissue samples to
compare with similar samples taken in post-deployment physicals.
The committee continues to press for a computerized complete
military history to be taken for every veteran at VA health
facilities and for testing for indigenous diseases and parasites,
toxic exposures, cold or heat injuries, and the like. The
committee recommends reaffirmation of this resolution.
V-6-01 Accreditation Process of
DVA Medical Centers.Requires that JCAHO conduct at least three
on-site visits to health care facilities and information about a
hospital's compliance with accreditation standards.
V-7-01 Military Health Care
Upholding Individual Rights and traditional patient-centered
ethics within the DOD medical-care system. Recommend reaffirmation
of our support.
V-8-01 Sexual Harassment.
Continue to condemn sexual harassment within the military and VSOs.
V-9-01 Hours of Operation of DVA
Medical Facilities. Continue to request weekend and evening
hours of operations to serve veterans better.
V-10-01 VA Hospice Care
Providing Care for Terminally Ill Veterans is a part of the
continuum of care that should be provided by VA to all eligible
veterans. The committee continues to press this issue in meeeting
with VA officials.
V-11-01 Proper Use of Real
Estate at West LA VA Medical Center. This is an area that has
been addressed by legislation. The VA must follow the guidelines
established by Congress for this and other ``excess'' property.
V-12-01 Private Health Care
Coverage for Uninsured and Underinsured Veterans and Their
Families. Need for reform in the health care delivery and
payment system. With rising costs and shrinking dollars, VVA has
urged enactment of meaningful legislation that will help veterans
and their families obtain private insurance, which also will
assist VA through third-party payments.
V-13-01 Philippine Veterans.
VVA has testified and worked with Rep. Lane Evans and others to
secure enactment of legislation in the 107th Congress that would
be the first step toward full recognition of Philippine veterans.
V-14-01 Encourage the Government
of Canada To Accept and Honor Canada's Vietnam Veterans.
Pushed for better funding of the new construction fund with the
Veterans Committee and other committees in this area.
V-15-01 New National Cemetery in
Valley Forge National Historical Park. Continue to seek to
support ways to meet this need by increasing funds in the new
Cemetery Construction fund.
V-16-01 VVA continues to push
for Veterans Right to Know Act in the 108th Congress and
establish without any delay specific and appropriate guidelines.
V-17-01 VLI. The committee
needs to work on language of the resolution. Everything done by
the committee and the VVA staff is done to improve the quality of
life for veterans and their family. This work will continue in the
V-18-01 Prostate Cancer and
Treatment.Continue to push the VA to give presumptive service
connection for this disease. VVA has been working with the
Prostate Cancer Foundation for joint outreach efforts to get
Vietnam veterans tested often and on a regular basis.
I want to thank all of you for your
support and input to the Committee. A special thanks to the
members of the committee for all their hard work and efforts.
Chair: Robert W. Maras.
Vice Chair: Jerry Klein. Members: Jim Blair, Donald Cannon, Marsha Four,
Art Heffelfinger, 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
BY JOHN KOPROWSKI, CHAIR
During the last few months, the
Veterans Incarcerated Committee has been active in several areas.
To start with, the White Paper was updated and will be updated yet
again. It is on VVA's web site and soon will be published in
The VVA Veteran.
The Liaison's Manual for Veterans
Incarcerated has been published to assist liaisons. It was
distributed at the Leadership Conference in Tucson. It is a
working manual that can be updated.
After long discussions and review
by the committee, it has been decided that Felon to Freedom
booklet will not be reprinted. To cover every state's rules,
regulations, and programs would be an exorbitant task that could
not be completed. There have been some misinterpretations as to
the intent of this booklet. It was meant to be used as a
pre-release guide to assist veterans within 90 days of their
release. It is not a get-out-of-jail card as many thought.
The committee presented a seminar
in Tucson, and we were overwhelmed by the numbers who attended the
seminar. We covered the White Paper, the Liaison's Manual, and the
Missouri "Straight Up" program.
The national officers and
committees have been receiving requests for VVA to get involved
with reevaluations for parole, release for post-conviction relief,
new trial support, and numerous other kinds of legal support. VVA
cannot provide support in any of these areas. VVA
does not have the resources or the expertise in these areas. These
issues can only be addressed by local legal council. This has been
VVA's position since its founding.
In the January 2002 issue of the
The VVA Veteran, the Veteran Incarcerated Committee report has
a statement that was misprinted. The statement should have read
"We have set some goals for the coming year - as always - health
care and elderly veterans being released from prison are at the
top of the list." I apologize for any inconvenience this may have
The committee continues to work
hard, and progress is sometimes measured in inches, but every step
is a step forward.
Chair: John Koprowski. Vice
Chair: Adolph Gardner. Members: Ron Adams, Bruce Hestley, Allen
Manuel, Rocky Snow, Jim Saunsaucie. Special Advisers: Jeff White,
Wayne Miller, Steve Mason, Marcia Hicks, Jeani Wells. Staff
Coordinator: Nat Slayton.
Women Veterans Committee
MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
determined at the Government Affairs and Veterans Health Care
Committees Retreat held in Tucson prior to the National
Leadership Conference, the committee will discuss all
resolutions and evaluate whether they are appropriate or need to
be retired. Portions of some resolutions may even be more
appropriate in policy rather than resolution format.
Support for Women Veterans. The National Women Veterans
Committee continues to update and distribute the trifold
entitled "Women Veterans."
This resource provides a history of the committee=s
achievements and pursuits and a membership application. This
document is available at all events. It is distributed to all
State Council Presidents and their State Women Veteran Chairs.
Two women veterans display boards are used at all conferences
and national events, most recently at the WIMSA fifth
anniversary reunion program. As a member of the VA Women
Veterans Advisory Committee, I receive resource information from
the Department of Veterans Affairs, VHA, VBA, National Cemetery,
and Vet Centers.
Women Veterans Study. Vietnam Veterans of America was
successful in getting authority for the National Vietnam Veterans
Longitudinal Study. Linda Schwartz, a committee member, was
appointed to the Scientific Advisory Board for this study. A
special focus of the study will be the health problems of men and
women veterans. This fulfills the intent of the resolution, and we
will give consideration to its retirement at our 2003 National
Medical Treatment of Women Veterans by DVA. On October 2, I
was asked, as chair of the VA Advisory Committee on Women
Veterans, to provide testimony on women veterans to the U.S. House
Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Health. There remains concern
in meeting the needs of women veterans in the expanding
Community-based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC) system. Privacy issues
are still raised. Discussion has also begun on the elimination of
the sunset clause on the eligibility criteria to gain access to
treatment for military sexual trauma. This is due for renewal in
2004. We are interested in seeking a congressional mandate for
the existence of the VA Women Veterans Health Program Office.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Women Veteran Coordinator
Program. The committee continues to stress the importance of
this issue. The VA has an internal panel reviewing and evaluating
the Women Veteran Coordinator (WVC) program. Recommendations are
being carried forward with the hope that WVCs 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 would
not be diminished. This committee stresses the importance of a
full-time WVC within each VISN office to assist with the VISN
strategic plan, provide coordinated programs, oversight, outreach,
linkage with state agencies, and support to the WVC of the Medical
Centers. The VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans also is
recommending to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs that this policy
Four. Vice Chair: Sandy Miller. Members: Lois Beck, Judi Greig,
Bob Maras, Judy McCombs, Ann Marie Rutallie, Dr. Linda Schwartz,
Mary Ellen White, Sandie Wilson, Carolyn Baker, Alta Milling,
Billie Cullen, and Sandra Spatz-wiszeauckas. Special Advisors:
Bill Duker, Joan Furey, Martha Green, Sara McVicker, Charlotte
Rebillard, Beverly Stewart, and Nancy Switzer.
Veterans Against Drugs Task Force
Against Drugs Task Force is alive and well and will hopefully be
appearing in your community soon. We have made great strides in
the program while suffering some health problems within tile
national committee and our program chairs.
We have also
lost a founding member and good friend in Rich Montgomery of the
Philadelphia program. Ray Bates has taken on the duties of chair
and promises to make the program work in the area. That is also
the promise he made to Rich before he passed away.
The program is now in Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey, Texas,
New York, Florida, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C., with
promises of programs in Virginia, Missouri, Louisiana, Michigan,
and Massachusetts. We are expanding in some states and are trying
to work with states that showed an interest in the program at the
leadership conference in Tucson.
Endorsements have come from the Executive Office of the President,
the Office of National Drug Control Policy, The Legion of Valor,
The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA), The Women's Army Corps
Veterans Association, The National Association of County Veterans
Service Officers, and Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America.
We are in the process of revising the first lesson plan so that it
is more accessible to educators, veterans, and other volunteers
who present the program. Plans are also developing for Lesson 2 on
Anti‑violence, Lesson 3 on Patriotism, with special emphasis on
flag respect and etiquette, and Lesson 4 on making wise decisions.
The Washington, D.C., Boys and Girls Club was the site of a recent
VAD program. WA staff members, headed by VAD staff liaison
Deborah Williams, reported it was a great experience. After
reading the letter of commendation from the Boys and Girls Club
director, there is no doubt the program will continue to prosper
in that area too.
We are pursuing grants and corporate sponsorships. In a lagging
economy, this is a difficult endeavor, but with all the people
behind this program, and with the encouragement of the National
Board of Directors and officers, I know this program will succeed.
Chair: Herb Worthington. Vice Chair: Doug
Perkins. Members: James Branum, Larry Coan, Hank Evans, Herb
Hankerson, Jerry Klein, Bob Maras, Carlton Rhodes,
and Dave Simmons. Special Advisers: Elaine Simmons and Margaret
Wojciechowicz. Staff Coordinator: Deborah Williams.
Five of the
six Homeless Veterans Task Force Resolutions have been addressed
through the passage of Public Law107-95, the Homeless Veterans
Comprehensive Assistance Act of 2001. Though passed, the federal
regulations have yet to be completed.
Realignment of Homeless Veterans Programs Currently Managed
Within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs System deals
specifically with the VA Domiciliary programs and contracting
the management of them to community-based operations. The HVTF
will be readdressing this resolution.
addresses sections of the following resolutions:
Homeless Veterans as a Special Needs Population, in part,
has been addressed. Even though it does not call out veterans
as a "special needs population,"
provisions are made to recognize a "special needs population"
within the homeless veteran population, including women (with or
without minor dependents), frail elderly, terminally ill, and
chronically mentally ill veterans.
The Continuum of Care Model as a National Standard in Homeless
Programs, by declaring a national goal to end chronic
homelessness among veterans by 2011 and encouraging cooperative
efforts among all departments and agencies of federal, state,
and local governments, private and public sectors, community and
faith-based organizations and individuals working together.
A Fair Share of Funding for Homeless Veteran Programs & Services
was a two-fold resolution. One, to insure a fair share of
funding for homeless veteran programs and services; secondly, to
re-institute the Interagency Council on Homelessness and the
establishment of a VA Advisory Committee on Homeless Veterans.
The first part of this resolution has not been addressed and
HVTF will continue to focus on it. The second part has been
addressed in that the Interagency Council on Homeless is
directed to meet annually and the VA Advisory Committee on
Homeless Veterans held its first meeting in June.
Representation of Homeless Veterans Program on Local, County,
and State Committees Implementing the Consolidated Plan for
McKinney Homeless Assistance Act Funding has also been
addressed in HTF-2-01, by encouraging cooperative efforts at all
levels and throughout all sectors, private and public.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Homeless Providers Grant &
Per Diem Program, which called for the access to additional
per diem dollars for the expansion of existing programs, is also
addressed. Under the provisions of this law, grants to assist in
the expanding or modifying of existing programs are available.
12, the Task Force submitted a statement for the record to the
House Committee on Veterans=
Affairs regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs Homeless
Veterans Programs and the implementation of PL107-95. Specific
emphasis was placed on the implementation of Section 601 of
PL105-358, which established the Pilot Program for VA Guaranteed
Loans for Multifamily Transitional Housing for Homeless Veterans.
These projects were authorized almost four years ago and have yet
to be started. VVA strongly supports these pilot projects and
further urged the Committee to direct the Secretary of Veterans
Affairs to fund all 15 pilot projects.
Miller, Vice Chairs: Marsha Four and Paul Sutton. Members: Ron
Adams, Charlotte Rebillard, and Paul Sutton. Special Advisors:
Linda Boone, Ed Chow, Linda Greene, Heather Henry-French, John
Margowskis, Jeani Wells, Charlotte Rebillard, and Mary Yeomans.
Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.