VETERANS AGAINST DRUGS TASK FORCE REPORT
BY HERB WORTHINGTON, CHAIR
follows is a letter written by Ray Bates to Herb Worthington,
chair of VVA's Veterans
Against Drugs Task Force.
On Thursday, June 10, the Veterans Against Drugs Program received
the Julius E. Williams Distinguished Community Service award from
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
This award is given in recognition of consistent influence in
promoting initiatives that partner veterans in community service.
The award was accepted on behalf of the late Richard Montgomery,
who started this program in 1988 after seeing a fellow Vietnam
veteran (Tony Yates) on television declaring war against the drug
gangs that shot and killed his son. Rich, a man with vision,
called upon local veterans groups to take back the drug corners in
Philadelphia. The Military Order of the Purple Heart,
Congressional Medal of Honor Society, Vietnam Veterans of America,
and a few other veterans groups became involved with Rich's vision
to combat this war on drugs.
In 1993, after putting pictures of these murdered children on the
wall in his office, Rich
contacted Judy Ringold, director of the Pennsylvania Academy of
Fine Arts. Rich wanted to
give something back to the families who had lost children.
Volunteer artists from the Academy of Fine Arts drew portraits of
the murdered children and presented them in a ceremony.
Transparencies of the portraits were made and the children's
pictures were put on a moving wall. The exhibit, called Lost
Dreams on Canvas, was taken to local high schools for a
week-long antiviolence program. Mothers came into the schools and
talked to the students about how their loved ones were murdered.
After meeting Rich in February of 1993, I joined him in his dream
of stopping the violence on the streets in Philadelphia. I learned
Rich's good and bad behaviors in dealing with law
enforcement, veterans groups, the District Attorney's Office,
neighborhood watch organizations, and members of Congress. Most
importantly, I learned about helping the families who had lost
children and about doing whatever it takes to get them the support
they need to survive their losses.
Last January, Richard Montgomery lost his battle with Agent
Orange. The veterans community, the city of Philadelphia, and the
families he helped over the years honored Rich and his family.
Acknowledging this great man was easy. District Attorney Lynn
Abraham, Sen. Harris Wolford, and other dignitaries spoke at his
funeral about his accomplishments. I was asked by Rich a few days
before his passing to promise that the Veterans Against Drugs/Lost
Dreams on Canvas program would not end.
Judy and I continue Rich Montgomery's legacy, with more than 300
completed portraits of
murdered children. The exhibit is being displayed at local high
schools. Many people are
involved with the programartists, teachers, parents, and
students. They are touched by the program and understand the dream
Rich had. His dream continues. We should all be free from
violence, anger, and hatred. My challenge to all local veterans
chapters across this country is to band together, make a
difference, and fight to stop the violence.
You have helped Rich spread the message across the nation, Herb.
Thank you for all you do with Veterans Against Drugs.