The last whispers of winter are gone and
spring is here. It is a time for renewal, recommitment, and
More than 600 chapters across the country
and beyond have held their elections, have chosen new leaders,
have established new or reinforced existing policies and programs,
and are now preparing to meet in Reno in August to elect new
national leaders, rededicate our commitment to existing projects,
and create new programs and policies for the next two years.
None of this happens without teamwork.
In the military we were trained to look
out for each other, to work together, move together, and almost
live inside of each others’ minds if we intended to survive and be
effective. Now, more than ever, we must rely upon one another to
move toward the same objective–justice for veterans.
Our membership, through its elected
delegates, will make its wishes known by adopting, amending, or
retiring Resolutions, and by choosing leaders to guide us at this
very critical time with the veterans’ health care budget very much
in danger. We must not waver from the directives issued by the
highest constitutional authority in VVA: the delegates assembled
The leadership has a constitutional
obligation to carry out, enforce, and otherwise assure the swift,
effective, and cost-efficient achievement of those orders.
Leaders are expected to develop positions
and opinions on the best ways to succeed at our mission. That
debate and exchange is healthy and is the sign of a vibrant,
forceful organization. But at the end of the day, when the
governing body–whether board, committee, or task force–makes its
decision at the chapter, state council, or national level, the
elected leaders are bound to support the decision of the governing
body and, to the largest extent possible, to further that mission.
Organizing and developing a chapter and
taking on community projects that benefit veterans, their
families, and the community takes the efforts of everyone working
together. There is an old saying in the military: “A convoy only
moves as fast as the slowest truck.”
world of veterans’ affairs, that pace is a sure road to disaster.
Without all members of the team pulling together, time is wasted
We need to lead, follow, or get out of the
way. VVA chooses to lead, but we must lead with one voice, one
consistent and persistent message, and not allow ourselves to be
distracted by petty personal politics or ideological differences.
We are all veterans.
Unfortunately, some powerful leaders in
Congress, elected with the votes of many veterans, are actively
working to divide and pit veterans against each other. They want
us not to focus on the common enemy–institutional apathy toward
veterans that has corroded every fiber of the government and those
responsible for our care and treatment.
We are not fools, and we should not permit
those in power to assume they can ignore us any longer. We are
veterans. We earned our benefits. We will tolerate nothing less
than a full commitment that VA programs will be funded at levels
consistent with quality and compassionate care, and that
legislation be enacted and signed into law binding the people of
the United States, through our government, to provide those funds
There are 435 members of the
House of Representatives and 100 Senators, a total of 535 people
from many walks of life. VVA Membership Committee Chair Bill Meeks
just reported that we have exceeded 50,000 members in VVA. You do
How many of you will go to your
congressional representatives’ district offices, or phone their
Veterans Coordinators, or send them e-mails or letters, demanding
that they properly fund VA health care now? How many does it take?
Read the “Letters to The Editor” section
of your local newspaper and read the letters from veterans,
voicing complaints about new fees and co-pays, and having to wait
months for an appointment and years for claims to be adjudicated.
Veterans may not even be allowed to use the system in the future
if some in Congress have their way. It’s not just “whining Vietnam
vets” who are angry about cuts to the VA health care budget and
eligibility. It’s all veterans.
Thirty years after our war, our children
and grandchildren should not have to fight the same battles we did
to secure and maintain the benefits that are on the chopping block
Today’s military is tomorrow’s veteran. We
want a health care system that cares for those who served
honorably–nothing more, nothing less. We will accomplish this by
working together as a VVA team, with all other VSOs that share
God bless our troops and their families.