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

May/June 2003
MEMBERSHIP NOTES
 
 

 

BY A VVA STAFF REPORT

MEMORIALS

Tupelo, Mississippi, Chapter 842 is working to rename the section of Interstate 59 between Laurel and Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in honor of Lance Corporal Roy M. Wheat, the only Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient from Mississippi. The chapter is collaborating with the Wheat family and local, state, and federal legislators. For additional information, call 662-862-9858 or write to VVA Chapter 842, P.O. Box 686, Verona, MS 38879.

WELCOME HOME

Laurel Heights Chapter 364 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, formed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's first support group 12 years ago during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The chapter reactivated the project in 1995 to support the troops in Bosnia and their families. The program is now in its third incarnation providing much-needed support to American troops scattered across the globe in the war on terrorism, and their families. The support effort includes representatives from the Red Cross, local clergy, and other local organizations. Also participating are representatives from the office of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa). In 1966, Murtha volunteered to go to Vietnam where he was wounded twice and received the Bronze Star for valor. He is the ranking Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

Porter County Chapter 905 in Portage, Indiana, reminds us that nearly 220,000 Reserve and National Guard troops have been activated in the war on terrorism since September 11, 2001. The number includes more than 150,000 Army Guard and Reserves, 9,500 Naval Reserves, over 33,000 Air Guard and Reserves, some 20,000 plus Marine Corps Reserves, and nearly 3,800 Coast Guard Reserves. The chapter is participating in Operation Dear Abby, an electronic letter-writing campaign for the armed forces at www.OperationDearAbby.net; the Virtual Thank-You Card project run by the Department of Defense at www.defendamerica.mil/nman.html; and messages of support to the troops via a message board at www.army.mil/usar/expresssupportthere.html

Chapter 574 in El Paso, Texas, stood proudly at the homecoming of the recently returned Iraq War POWs when they arrived at Fort Bliss. As the soldiers disembarked from the aircraft, the chapter and VVA flag were prominently displayed on several national newscasts.

In Janesville, Wisconsin members of Chapter 236 participated in weekly ``Support The Troops'' rallies at the local post office.

South Jersey Chapter 825 in Mays Landing took part in the ``Support Our Troops'' rally held at the Egg Harbor Township High School in March. The chapter uses e-mail to notify members of the events.

Christina Longenecker and Steve Everett of Chapter 604 in Topeka, Kansas, organized a ``Support Our Troops'' rally on the steps of the state capitol in Topeka. The event featured speakers, live and recorded music, and emphasized that the rally's purpose was to demonstrate to our men and women in uniform that their service and sacrifice is appreciated. If you would like to join the project, contact Christina at 71Merlin@kans.com for additional information.

Chapter 601 in Bennington, Vermont held a candlelight ``Support Our Troops'' vigil at the Vermont Veterans Home in April. Participants included family members of those who are serving.

Chapter 502 in Anniston, Alabama organized a ``Rally For The Troops'' on the city main street. Hundreds took part in the event, a prelude to a Welcome Home celebration for local servicemen and women.

Chapter 787 in Tampa, Florida, has been collecting goods to send to the troops in Iraq. What began as a project to collect reading material quickly grew into something that now involves the solicitation of local Wal-Mart and Payless customers to purchase comfort items needed by America's sons and daughters in uniform. Under the leadership of Jim ``Rambo'' Legarde, chapter members and local volunteers--some of whom have husbands deployed--gathered at the local YMCA on April 15 to prepare the packages for mailing.

Chapter 323 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, organized a family support group for those who have friends or family serving. The group meets twice a month at the Fayetteville VA hospital under the guidance of Arkansas State Council Chaplain Dan Bannan. It also includes members of Chapter 838 in Siloam Springs. Other veterans organizations have joined the project. The VVA chapters joined together with radio station 98.3 Rooster Country in Operation Appreciation to collect pre-paid phone cards for the troops. On March 23, the late Arkansas State Council President Mike Burden of Chapter 323 and James Dickey of Chapter 838 spent six hours in front of the Siloam Springs Wal-Mart and collected over 4,000 minutes to bring the project total to nearly 10,000 minutes.

Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, joined with the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a dinner for the families of the 104 activated reservists from the Los Angeles Country Sheriff's Department. One hundred people attended the dinner, which featured Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, seven of his deputy chiefs, and former L.A. Dodger Maury Wills.

In his farewell message to members of Chapter 223 in Santa Rosa, California, Ken Holybee said that the best way to support our troops is to advocate for adequate funding for the VA so that when the troops return home they will have access to services, treatment, and benefits. He reminded everyone that the VA budget is not acceptable, and the battle for funding continues.

Oregon State Council President Judi Gregg served as emcee at a ``Support The Troops'' rally at Alton Baker Park in Eugene on May 10.

The Maryland State Council presented a POW/MIA Flag to Gov. Robert L. Erlich, Jr., at a ``Support The Troops'' rally on the steps of the state General Assembly building in Annapolis April 14. Joining State Council President Bruce Whitaker for the presentation were former Vietnam POW Jack Fellows and National League of Families representative Susie Ragan.

Northern Virginia Chapter 227 encourages everyone to remember the men and women in uniform by contacting our websites that provide care, comfort, and service to our military personnel. Included in the list is the Fisher Foundation, a group that provides housing for families of the wounded. Contact them at www.fisherhouse.org  You can purchase food certificates for active-duty military families at www.commissaries.com and donate telephone calling cards at www.operationuplink.org For specific service relief information, go to www.aerhq.org (Army), www.nmcrs.org (Navy/Marine), www.afas.org (Air Force), and www.cgmahq.org (Coast Guard). Questions about donating rules can be obtained at www.defendamerica.mil/support_troops.html

Bill Chapman of Chapter 831 in Cocoa, Florida, reports the chapter collected four truckloads of goods for the troops. Operation Care is focused on the 920th Rescue Wing based Patrick Air Force Base in Florida that was scheduled to return from deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 25. The local Wal-Mart store donated $500 to help cover expenses of the party. Members Bill Chapman, Dave Booth, Don Flammio, Hank Bornemann, Ed Moeller, Dave Schozbager, and Al Diaz were joined by AVVA members Susan Chapman and Tracy Moeller in the project.

Ohio Chapter 857 in New Philadelphia and Chapter 532 in Newcomerstown combined to provide assistance to military dependents while their family members are away on active duty. On April 27 at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds, the chapters sponsored a ``Support The Troops Rally'' where chapter members volunteered to perform services such as yard care, babysitting, and running household errands. If you are interested in helping out, contact homefront@tusconet.net or call Virgil Quillen at 740-498-6656 or Dale Foster at 740-622-1936.

Tri-State Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland is collecting items to send to troops around the world and is distributing Blue Star decals to local families with children in the military.

Steve Hersey is too young to have served in Vietnam, but he has three uncles who did. That is what motivated him to create Books For America. The non-profit group is collecting books for the children of men and women in uniform who are serving overseas. If you would like to help, contact Books For America at www.booksforamerica.org or write Books For America, 2800 Quebec St., NW, Suite 744, Washington, DC 20008, 202-364-9737.

HONORS

National Board Member and Women Veterans Committee Chair Marsha Four has been selected as one of this year's ``Unsung Heroes'' by the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Four is the Director of Homeless Veterans Services for the Philadelphia Multi-Service and Education Center. The 50-bed transitional housing facility is located at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Since 1997, the center has provided housing and other services to more than 2,000 homeless veterans.

Ray Dolgos, president of Chapter 242 in Chicago, has been appointed Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs for the state of Illinois by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.

Linda Schwartz, chair of VVA's National Health Care Task Force, has been nominated by Gov. John Rowland to be the Connecticut Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. The appointment is in recognition of Linda's years of advocacy for veterans and her expertise in the special health care needs of veterans. Her nomination must be confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.

Indiana State Sen. Allen E. Paul and Gov. Frank O'Bannon named Butch Mullen, a member of Richmond, Indiana, Chapter 777, ``Distinguished Hoosier'' for his service to veterans and their families. Mullen served with the 5th/7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division.

Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) introduced a resolution in the Senate recognizing the 25th anniversary year of Vietnam Veterans of America. In part, the Resolution reads: "Whereas, Vietnam Veterans of America promotes its principles through volunteerism, professional advocacy, and claims work; and Whereas the future of the Vietnam Veterans of America relies not only on its past accomplishments, but on future accomplishments of its membership that will ensure the Vietnam Veterans of America remains a leader among veterans advocacy organizations.''

DONATIONS

Chapter 767 in Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, held its 11th Annual ``Thoughts For Food'' event in March. This year's event was held in ten venues and featured 56 musical groups who donated their time and talent for the fundraiser that raised $29,000 for the Racine County Food Bank.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Big Sky Chapter 334 in Billings, Montana, awarded a $1,000 scholarship to Ryanne Teesdale of Bridger. She is the daughter of Roger and Dorothy Teesdale and will attend Montana State University-Billings to study elementary education.

HOSPITALIZED VETS

Retired Chief Torpedoman Ted Burke (WWII) sent a letter of thanks to Vietnam veterans who sponsored a Christmas visit with gifts to patients in the Washington, D.C., VA Hospital in December. Echoing VVA's Founding Principle, Burke closed his letter with the following statement: ``One of the thoughts of hope for us at this time with the threat of war again--is to remember those who may serve again, and pray our loss will be minimized.''

ODDS 'N' ENDS

The Forming Chapter in Fresno, California, donated a new American flag to the hotel that hosted a recent California State Council meeting. Chapter members noticed the flag in front of the hotel was in an unacceptable condition. The hotel also now flies a POW/MIA Flag when the state council is in attendance.

   

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