A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

December 2002

Vietnam Veterans of America
SEMIANNUAL COMMITTEE REPORTS
 
Resolution P-8-99 States:

"Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., at National Convention in Anaheim, California, August 10-15, 1999, requires that all national committees report semiannually in The VVA Veteran on actions taken which further the implementation of currently active committee resolutions."
Agent Orange/Dioxin
Government Affairs
Membership Affairs
Minority Affairs
POW/MIA Committee
PTSD/Substance Abuse
Public Affairs
Veterans Affairs
Veterans Incarcerated
Women Veterans
Veterans Against Drugs
Homeless Veterans Task   Force

 


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. 

ADVOCACY 

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 Vietnam.

            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. 

This planned 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 ongoing. 

           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 108th Congress. 

            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 compensation. 

The committee 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 making.  

HEALTH CARE 

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 specific issues. 

            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 membership.  

Because of this committee's commitment to the Agent Orange network mandated by Resolution AO-9-01, the committee continues to:  

           Provide chapters and state councils important resources for programs assisting veterans or their children.  

            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 Resolution AO-4-01. 

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

  TOP

Government Affairs Committee
BY 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 programs.  

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 resolutions.

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.

G-5-01 Vet 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.

G-10-01 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 commemorative stamps.

Chair: 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 Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.

  TOP

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 in AVVA.

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 chapter level.

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 20.

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.

  TOP

Minority Affairs Committee
BY FRANCISCO F. IVARRA, CHAIR

The Minority 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 Barry Hagge. 

The Minority 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.

VVA vice 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.  

The committee unanimously passed the following motions at the November 7 meeting:

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.  

7. That Committee members submit articles to The VVA Veteran for publication that reflect the interest of our diverse veterans population. 

8. That the Committee accept the following new members: Frank Cordero, Mel Sheldon, Larry Frazee, William Luna, Fernando Rodriguez, and Jerry Yamamoto.

Chair: 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 Johnson.

  TOP

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."  

Unfortunately, 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.  

On September 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. 

On September 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. 

Chair: 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.

  TOP

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 committees.

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 implemented.

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 serve.

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: Mokie Porter.

 

  TOP

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 activities. 

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 programs. 

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 this mandate. 

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 service there. 

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 families. 

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, 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.

  TOP

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 Organization.

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 108th Congress.

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. Welcome Home.

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 Weidman.

  TOP

Veterans Incarcerated Committee
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 caused.

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.

  TOP

Women Veterans Committee
BY MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR

As 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.  

WV-1-01 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.

WV-2-01 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 Convention.  

WV-3-01 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 Veterans= 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.  

WV-4-01 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 be accepted.

Chair: Marsh 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.

  TOP

Veterans Against Drugs Task Force
BY HERB WORTHINGTON, CHAIR

The Veterans 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.

  TOP

Homeless Veterans Task Force
BY SANDY MILLER, CHAIR

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. 

HTF-4-01 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. 

PL107-95 addresses sections of the following resolutions: 

HTF-1-01 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. 

HTF-2-01 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. 

HTF-3-01 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. 

HTF-5-01 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. 

HTF-6-01 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.

On September 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.

Chair: Sandy 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.

  TOP

   


Visit The VVA Veteran archives to locate back issues.
E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org


     Home | Membership | Publications | Events | Government Relations | Contact Us
Press Releases | Benefits | Meetings & Special Events | Collectibles | Contributions and Sponsorships | Site Index

Vietnam Veterans of America ® 
8605 Cameron Street, Suite 400
Silver Spring, Maryland  20910-3710
301-585-4000, Fax 301-585-0519, 1-800-VVA-1316  

Copyright © 2005 by the Vietnam Veterans of America. All rights reserved.