A VVA STAFF REPORT
MAN OF THE
The Freetown, Massachusetts, Standard-Times named Richard
Levesque Freetown Man of the Year. Nominations for the honor came
from the community and members of the newsroom staff. Levesque,
the Massachusetts State Council veterans' service officer,
said he was floored by the honor that recognized his dedication
and devotion to veterans and their needs. According to the article
in the Standard-Times, Town Clerk Jackie Brown said, "We
get calls all the time from veterans who have questions that need
to be addressed, and Richard makes sure to have those questions
and concerns answered. He freely gives out his home phone number
and is always available to help the veterans. He's an energetic,
National Board member and Florida State Council President
Dave McMichael presented the Council's President's Award to
Phoenix Chapter 726 in Polk City, Florida, for its
dedication to helping veterans and those in need. The award was
accepted by chapter delegate Timothy Kauffman, who presented the
award to the chapter at its December meeting.
Sumner County Chapter 240 in Gallatin, Tennessee,
presented a special award to Polly Kitchens, a member of Woodmen
of the World, for her 15-year support of veterans' activities.
Kitchens has provided American flags and poles for special
occasions and for the local Veterans Park.
The proper disposal of soiled or damaged American Flags is
governed by U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, paragraph K:
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a
fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified
way, preferably by burning. Bob Boisselle, community affairs
officer for Chapter 32 in Queens, New York, enlisted
the help of Boy Scout Troop 383 in Glendale, New York, to help
dispose of 300 retired U.S. flags. The chapter used the facilities
at Mt. Olivet Cemetery Crematory for the disposal but saved an
enormous garrison flag that had hung above the Maspeth Federal
Savings Bank in Maspeth, New York. The flag was presented to the
troop during its annual summer camp. Three hundred scouts and
their leaders held a special ceremony at their nightly campfire to
dispose of the flag. At the conclusion, the crowd spontaneously
began singing "America the Beautiful."
Chapter 767 in Racine, Wisconsin, took part in the
Korean War Memorial services at the Southeastern Wisconsin
Veterans' Cemetery in Union Grove. The chapter also is continuing
its C.A.R.E. package program for troops stationed overseas. More
than a ton of materials has been sent to the troops, and the
chapter has collected several hundred pounds more for the next
San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston has joined the
Adopt A Platoon project and has shipped comfort items to a platoon
of the 101st Infantry Division in Iraq. In addition, the chapter
donated nearly $3,000 to support the families of those deployed to
the war zone.
The Chapter 310 Dispatch in Ann Arbor, Michigan,
printed a series of thank-you letters from deployed troops who
have received support from the chapter. Sgt. Kirstin Frederickson
in Iraq wrote: "I know your support has made a difference in my
deployment. I can just imagine the many soldiers and families that
have been touched by you and the folks at VVA." Also from Iraq,
Warrant Officer James Britton wrote: "We lost some good troops and
friends this week, and the support we get from the outside really
goes a long way to boost the morale of the men."
Pleasantville, New York, Chapter 49 held its annual
Candlelight Vigil along the Trail of Honor in December and placed
a Christmas tree at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial there. According
to Chapter executive director Dan Griffin, "This is our Christmas
for our brothers and sisters who did not come home."
First presented at the 2003 New York City Veterans Day Parade, a
30-minute "Thank You For Serving" video is being sent to our
troops around the world by Manhattan Chapter 126.
Chapter 218 in Santa Barbara, California,
participated in the Arlington West project in December. The event
is part of the Parade of Lights festival and includes a lighted
candle for each of the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A
24-foot wall with the names, ages, hometowns, and cause of death
of the nearly 500 Americans in uniform who have died in the war on
terrorism was also erected. On Sunday mornings, hundreds of wooden
crosses, representing those who have died, are placed in the sand
nears Stearns Wharf.
In the shadow of Mount Shasta, Chapter 357 in Redding,
California, is proud of its effort to have the county rename a
local bridge. Second vice president Norman Hargett reports that
the county voted to designate the Clear Creek Bridge as Shasta
County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, complete with an
appropriate sign featuring the Vietnam Service Ribbon.
Chapter 77 in Buffalo, New York, completed its 12th annual
Operation Gift Lift. The more than 200 containers of comfort
items, including soap, pens, pencils, shampoo, playing cards, hard
candy, and other miscellaneous items for deployed troops also
contained personal greeting cards from local schoolchildren.
Akron, Ohio, Chapter 900 has taken on the task of helping
local National Guard and Army Reserve families who have had
members called to active duty. To quote chapter member Bruce
Hestley: "This is one way for an older generation of veterans to
assist a younger generation."
The Native American Vietnam Veterans Recognition Project is
scheduled for Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence,
Kansas, in February. VVA Region 6 Director Steve House
commissioned Native American artist Barry Coffin to sculpt a bust
of a Native American veteran for the event. Coffin, an
accomplished artist, is a two-tour Vietnam veteran.
Over the holidays, Merced, California, Chapter 691 donated
four $50 food certificates to A Woman's Place Domestic Violence
Shelter and three other families.
Chapter 862 in Freedom, Pennsylvania, collected and
donated $584 to a local teenager battling cancer. Her father is a
member of the chapter and has helped with many chapter projects,
including the construction of the local POW/MIA monument.
Laura Oleksyn is completing her masters degree program at Nazareth
College in Inclusive Early Childhood Education as a result of a
four-year undergraduate scholarship provided by Rochester, New
York, Chapter 20. She has maintained a 4.0 grade average and
will be inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor
Society for Teachers.
If your chapter or state council awards scholarships, send the
total dollar amount and total number of recipients to
Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia hosted a
Movie Night at the Philadelphia VAMC. Twenty-one patients enjoyed
the movie and refreshments provided by chapter volunteers Robert
Dott, Len Johnson, Tom Finnerty, Gerald Nye, Mark Lumpkin, and Ron
Powell. They were joined by Al Mikutis, James Chappelle, and his
friend, Angela, Herb Benson and his son and daughter, Dhafir and
Dhaima, and Jerry McManus.
Robert E. Wheelock Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey,
members Ralph Villano, Mike Rahill, and his wife visited the Lyons
VAMC PTSD ward and donated gift bags to the residents.
New Hampton, New York, Chapter 140 Chaplain Rev. Ross
Licata reports the chapter hosted a party for the patients at
Castle Point VAMC in Beacon, New York. Licata thanked Bob Stumph,
Debbi and Peter Cassela, Russell Boyce, Sr., Maryann Birchenough,
and Jim Swiecata for putting together and distributing the gifts
to a total of 30 veterans, including 23 from the Spinal Cord
Nearly $2,000 worth of personal care and other items were
distributed to 300 residents of the State Veterans Home in Bristol
by Wakefield, Rhode Island, Chapter 325. This is the second
year the chapter has made the trip to the home. Member Geoff Colt
says preparations for next year are already underway.
Freedom, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 answered the call to
help raise funds for a Korean War Memorial in Beaver County.
President Skip Haswell committed the chapter to raising $70,000
for the memorial and formed a committee of Bill Muns, John and
Sherry Namath, and the late Chuck Nowry. The team called Beaver
County Times reporter Marsha Keefer and asked if the paper
would help with the project. After raising $121,000, the memorial
was completed, landscaped, and dedicated.
The New Jersey State Council dedicated a polished black
granite monument in the Gen. John B. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in
Arneytown, New Jersey. The monument, designed by chapter member
Ann Marie Manna, includes a full-color VVA logo, our national
motto, "In Service To America," and our Founding Principle, "Never
Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another." The
reverse side displays the POW/MIA emblem.
Members of Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina,
have pledged $100 to help fund a memorial honoring veterans at
Brooklyn-Cayce High School. If you want to make a donation,
contact chapter President Frank Weick at
National Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee chair Paul Sutton was
featured in a news article about an Agent Orange conference held
at the Roseberg, Oregon VAMC. Sutton described the extent of Agent
Orange use and the countless diseases and ailments that plague
Vietnam veterans and their children as a result of exposure to the
dioxin-laden defoliant. Sutton told the group that in 1990 the VA
recognized that two diseases were related to Agent Orange exposure
and that today the list has grown to 43. The event was hosted by
Winston, Oregon, Chapter 805.
Oregon State Council president Judi Greig was recently
profiled in the Eugene Register-Gazette. Greig says she
gained her strong devotion to veterans while in the Army. "It
teaches you teamwork. It's something that will last a lifetime,"
The Washington Post ran an article in December about a
homeless veteran who made the acquaintance of Nathaniel "Gnat"
Slayton Jr., a VVA benefits case worker. The article reports how
the veteran had faced a lifetime of challenges, including a brief
time as a cadet at West Point in 1971, his enlistment in the Air
Force, going AWOL, a psychiatric evaluation that led to his
discharge, and two suicide attempts. Slayton is now processing the
veterans case, and has helped him regain some power over his own
ODDS 'N' ENDS
Will Schwartz, president of Chapter 650 in Catonsville,
Maryland, reports that the chapter held its annual fund-raiser
at the Fells Point Festival in Baltimore. Each year Jimmy's
Restaurant donates the sidewalk in front of his establishment for
the chapter to set up its booth. This year the chapter presented
the owner with a plaque recognizing his support of the chapter.
More than 100 vehicles participated in the Fourth Annual Veterans
Day Open Car Show held in conjunction with the South Texas
Veterans Health Care System and sponsored by Chapter 863 in