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January / February 2008

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2008: Jan/Feb | mar/apr | may/june | july/Aug | sept/oct | Nov/DeC
2007: Jan/Feb | MAR/APR | MAY/JUNE | july/aug | SEPT/OCT | Nov/DeC
2006: July/Aug | SEPT/OCT | nov/dec


Western New York Chapter 77 member Jack O’Connor has put together a program called Veterans Court in conjunction with the Buffalo Police Department, Buffalo City Court Judge Robert T. Russell, Jr., and the Buffalo VA Medical Center. The object of the Veterans Court program is to keep veterans who are arrested for low-level crimes out of jail. The program provides VA counselors to work with these veterans with the idea of getting them into appropriate treatment programs. If a veteran successfully completes the program, which Judge Russell monitors, charges may be dropped and the veteran will not have to serve jail time.

Congratulations to Westchester County Chapter 49, which celebrated its 25th anniversary In Service to America in October. Chapter member, associates, family, and friends celebrated with a 25th Anniversary Barbeque Oct. 20 at Lasdon Park in Somers, New York. Families and friends of fallen Westchester County veterans were special guests of the chapter, which displayed photos and shared stories about the chapter’s early days.

Pathfinder Chapter 848 at Crosslands Correctional Center in Cameron, Missouri, recently completed its sixth annual fundraising effort for charitable causes. About $1,000 was raised for several charities, including the Center for the Intrepid, the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund, Cameron Veterans Nursing Home, Special Olympics, and Camp Quality. Seventy-five percent of the chapter’s annual budget goes to charities and community service endeavors.

Two VVA chapters, Preston County, West Virginia, Chapter 977 and Morgantown Chapter 306, took part in the 66th annual four-day Preston County Buckwheat Festival in September in Kingwood, West Virginia. Chapter 977 members held a membership drive, sold VVA products, and participated in many other festival events, including riding on a float in the parade. On board the float were AVVA Vice President Elaine Simmons and West Virginia State Council President Dave Simmons.

Maurice Bailey, the president of Mat-Su, Alaska, Chapter 903, was the 2007 recipient of the Alaska Governor’s Veterans Advocacy Award. Bailey received the award in November from Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell in recognition of Bailey’s outstanding volunteer service to the veterans’ community, in particular the Veterans Aviation Outreach program, which provides help, support, and fellowship to Alaska veterans, many of them in remote areas of the state.

South Bay Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, recently donated a total of $3,800 to the following organizations: the Junior ROTC Detachments at Torrance High School, North Torrance High School, and Redondo High School; First Methodist Church; St. Andrews Presbyterian Church; St. James Catholic Church; and St. Pauls Presbyterian Church in Redondo Beach; to VVA’s 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parade; and to the Snowball Express.

Members and AVVA members of Ocean County, New Jersey, Chapter 855 presented a “Tribute to Veterans” program on Veterans Day at Central Regional High School in Bayville. The program included students, teachers, the school’s principal, veterans from all eras, active-duty military personnel and their families, along with a Gold Star family. Chapter members then did a program at Twin Bridges Nursing Home in Whiting.

Taking part in both events were Chapter President Chuck Hoff and Myrna Arnold and AVVA members Gary Jacobson, Lana Winter, Lee Forlaw-Hoff, and Dawn Hunt.

Many members of Kentuckiana Chapter 454 in Louisville, Kentucky, lent a hand at the October 25 Operation Stand-down sponsored by the Metro Louisville Coalition for the Homeless. Chapter members Bob and Chet Needy, Terry Rupp, Judy Mitchell, Victoria Cole, Gary Holmes, and Nat Price helped unload and distribute produce and clothing, among other activities.

Wheaton, Illinois, Chapter 693 co-sponsored a Veterans Benefits Dinner November 4 for the second consecutive year at the Villa Verone restaurant in Geneva. Chapter members sold tickets for the dinner, and the chapter retained the proceeds from ticket sales. The chapter presented the restaurant with a plaque in appreciation for hosting the event.

The Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227 in Northern Virginia held its 19th annual DMZ to Delta dance on Saturday night, Nov. 10, during Veterans Day weekend. More than three hundred people attended the fundraiser. Among the guests: VVA National President John Rowan and his wife Mariann. The event netted some $8,900. Members and spouses Len and Diane Ignatowski, Bill and Cheryl Dumsick, Bill and Natalie Bohuslaw, Joe and Sharon Celesnik, Chris Beverly, Bruce and Sarah Waxman, Max and Fran Knouse, Bob and Ardis Mills, Paul and Cyndy Stancliff, Chuck and Glenda Harris, Jim Hewitt, Len Funk, Charlie Klein, Jonathan Olson, and Margaret Stern worked at the big dance.

Bob Sweeney, a member of Western Massachusetts Chapter One-Eleven, was named Springfield, Massachusetts, Veteran of the Year. He was honored for his many years of work in the Springfield Veterans Services Office. In 2007, he was named manager of the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Agawam.

Racine/Nenosha, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 presented a large donation in December to the Southern Wisconsin Veterans Home in Union Grove. Included in the donation were gift cards, comforters, tablecloths, craft items, games, candy, and batteries. These items consisted of the majority of a wish list compiled by the Center for its residents.

Members of Yuma, Arizona, Chapter 835 took part in several local activities during November’s Veterans Day commemorations. The chapter marched in the huge Yuma Veterans Day parade, and several members attended events honoring veterans at the Faith Baptist Church and Grace Bible Fellowship.

After returning home from showcasing its Agent Orange Awareness float in the Nov. 10 VVA-sponsored 25th Anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Parade in Washington, D.C., members of Las Vegas, Nevada, Chapter 17 took part in two local events benefiting needy families. The chapter participated in the Thanksgiving Turkey Drive sponsored by HELP of Southern Nevada, which provided holiday meals to hundreds of families in need. On Thanksgiving day itself, chapter members pitched in at the Hard Rock Café’s annual Thanksgiving feed for the homeless. “Chapter 17 is proud to be a part of this event by providing personal care kits to the homeless as they leave from their delicious meal,” said Chapter President Tom George.

Some two dozen Rotarians and Vietnam veterans, including Howard Goldin of Rockland County, New York, Chapter 333, presented school supplies, medical equipment, toiletries, bicycles, and toys to students in the Mekong Delta village of Long Xuyen in November as part of the Schools to End Poverty project, which Goldin and Chapter President Ed Frank began in 2005. The program helps disadvantaged Vietnamese children in rural areas of the country. The program’s first project was to help build a three-story school outside Dalat, in the Central Highlands, which, when completed, will educate some 450 Montagnard children. “In my particular unit, there was a lot of loss,” Goldin said. “This is one of my ways to heal.”

VVA’s 2007 Chapter of the Year, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310, reached an admirable milestone in November: After four years of sending care packages to the troops in Iraq, the chapter mailed its thousandth parcel. By the end of 2007, the number hit 1,076 packages. The average postage per package is $17, and the donated contents average about $60 each, which puts the total value of the packages at some $82,000.

Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 is working with Veterans of Modern Warfare to form a local chapter in Santa Rosa. The chapter has begun contacting veterans of the first Persian Gulf War and the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as active-duty service personnel. The chapter will serve as the fledgling VMW’s mentor group. The chapter held its annual Christmas Dinner for All Veterans and their families and extended families on December 14 and once again distributed children’s gifts.

Twelve members of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 recently traveled to Meadville, Pa., to attend a Support the Troops rally. The members carried signs saying “We Support Our Troops.” “This is the first time I carried a sign for anything,” said Chapter President Skip Haswell, “and I would do it again. Sometimes we change a little as we get older.”

Des Plaines, Illinois, Chapter 311 just finished its first year of presenting blue star flags to area high schools whose alumni have served in the military since September 11. “This is important,” said Chapter President Brian Mulcrone, “because viewing blue star flags at local high schools forever reminds entire communities that their friends, classmates, and neighbors are serving and defending the USA.” Upon “their return from service as they join us as veterans, we want to welcome all and insure that the government that has sent them addresses their needs as American veterans. We all owe them that as we rededicate ourselves to VVA’s Founding Principle, ‘Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.’ ”

Michael Engi, the President the West Central District Chapter 899 in Bordentown, New Jersey, presented $1,500 worth of commissary gift certificates to the military families—including spouses and children of those serving overseas—at the December Hearts Apart holiday party at the Fort Dix Youth Center. “The lower-ranking enlisted men don’t have the money that the officers make,” Engi said. “They have wives and kids here. This helps them buy the things they need. None of us ever forgot how we were treated when we came home, so we welcome the troops. That’s why we do things for their families.”

Five members of Northwest New Jersey Robert E. Wheelock Memorial Chapter 327 volunteered and were chosen to take part in the reading of names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington during the three-day Veterans Day weekend commemorations in Washington. Past President Walt Towers, Agent Orange Committee Chair Mick Eckstein, Ed Hultberg, Terry Thompson, and Chapter 1st Vice President Steve “Rambo” Carrozzo—who, along with other chapter members were in Washington to march in the big November 10 VVA Parade—read the names in the early evening on November 9.

Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, Chapter 101 recently donated $300 to the Fountain of Tears Statuary Project at The Highground Veterans Memorial Park near Niellsville. The project will be part of the park’s Meditation Garden, which will contain a statue of a soldier holding the dog tags of his fellow soldiers and another statue of a wife and child of a fallen soldier. The works will be placed on either side of a pond that represents the tears of those who grieve for the fallen. During Veterans Day weekend, the chapter’s Color Guard took part in ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Park, as well as at the dedication of the Wood County Veterans Memorial in front of the Wisconsin Rapids Courthouse. Chapter members also attended Veterans Day activities at Grant School in Wisconsin Rapids and at the River Run Retirement Home.

Bozeman, Montana, Chapter 788 presented a plaque honoring former F-105 pilot Dean Pogreba to the Three Forks High School during Veterans Day ceremonies on November 8. Pogreba was shot down over North Vietnam in October 1965. His wife Maxine and son Larry attended the ceremonies. For Thanksgiving, the chapter presented turkeys, food gift certificates, and other assistance to veterans and their families in Gallatin and Park Counties.

Southern Utah Chapter 961 raised $5,000 to bring The Wall That Heals to St. George, Utah, where it went on display for four days early in December. “There are 58,000-plus names on The Wall and many of these names are our comrades who we were fighting with,” Chapter President Mike Gale told the Hurricane Valley Journal. “The reason they call it ‘The Healing Wall’ is because we go there to feel close to our brothers and sisters who were killed there. It helps us to go and do that, to spend a quiet moment with them.”

The winners of Bergen County, New Jersey, Chapter 800’s eighth annual Kevin O’Neil Scholarship were Wendy Holland, Nick Moyer, Matthew Ratajczak, and Matthew Tanda, all of whom wrote essays comparing the experiences of Vietnam veterans with those of the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Six students received Leominster, Massachusetts, Chapter 116 scholarships recently near the town’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The scholarship program, now in its 18th year, recognizes the children of Vietnam veterans and other students who have demonstrated a commitment to their community and to veterans and who are going on to higher education. The recipients in 2007 were Matthew Ellam, Jocelyn Pierce, Michael Hazzard, Jeffrey Jollymore, Emily Joseph, and Loren LeBlanc


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