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may/june 2008

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Membership Notes / Region 5 Report / Region 8 Report / AVVA / Homeless Veterans Report / Women Veterans / Portland Memorial / In Memory at the Wall / Proudly They Serve / Bending At The Knee / Arts of War / Books In Review / Greenville Welcome / Locator / Letters / TAPS / Reunions / Conference Seminars /

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2006: July/Aug | SEPT/OCT | nov/dec

The last issue of your worthwhile magazine named VVA members who recently passed away. My concern is that six of our brethren died in December 2007 in Oxford, New York. All six were permanently hospitalized members of VVA Owego Chapter 480.
Was there a specific event that caused their deaths? Was there an investigation, news releases, or other information published regarding their deaths? All VVA members who passed away had their specific dates of death published. All but these six.
I am sure that many would like to have more information about what happened in December 2007. If your staff or anyone who has any information about the above would let us know it would be greatly appreciated.

Richard S. Titilah

Via Email

Fr. Phil Salois, M.S., VVA National Chaplain, replies:
These six death notices from Oxford were all sent to me at one time; December only indicates the month their names were taken off the VVA membership roster. Due to the Privacy Act and because VVA is not next of kin, it is very difficult to get information on permanently hospitalized veterans. Notices usually arrive in batches. Unless the local chapter visits regularly, the death of a permanently hospitalized veteran may pass unnoticed for a long time.

I read Brian Bobek’s letter in the March/April issue, which concerned his VFW experience in 1968. This, unfortunately, did happen to many returning veterans during the Vietnam War. But I have a news flash: We, Vietnam veterans, now run the VFW. I never had the experience Brian had when I joined. I was welcomed with open arms. I was commander for three terms, and I’m currently second vice-president of my VVA chapter.
Many of us wear many hats in the veterans’ communities we live in. I’d never let a veteran from any war tell me I don’t belong.

Cory Kilvert
Via Email

The March/April issue was given to me by a friend and fellow veteran. In this issue, “Mark Jury’s Quiet War in Vietnam” contains photos from July 1969 to July 1970. I was in Fire Support Base Wood from September 22, 1969, until it was shut down (Vietnamized) in December of 1969. I have been looking for information regarding this FSB and have found none until now.

I was a gun chief, and would like to get more information and names of the guys who were on those guns during the period. I would also like to speak to Mark Jury regarding his photo book.

Ryan Neuhauser
Via Email

We have given Ryan Neuhauser’s contact info to Mark Jury—ed.

I am a life member and read every issue with great interest. I served with pride, then graduated from college, then started a successful business, and taught high school for 31 years.

When I retired several years ago, I went to the VA to see about obtaining medical benefits. Of course, I was denied because I made more than $28,000 a year. In reading your article on the continuing underfunding of the VA, I see that it is still the same.
Our leaders in Washington do not value veterans’ sacrifices for the country although they give lip service to the concept.

Gary A. Melvin
Fresno, California

I have just finished the March/April issue. The entire publication is informative. One column, in particular, caught my eye. The report of the Veterans Incarcerated Committee is an entire column of nothing. It mumbles about VIN-1-95 content. It points out that VIN-1-95 may be obsolete in the light of the “Second Chance” legislation. The Second Chance legislation (according to Government Track) is on hold and is a paper life raft. The column rambles on about these two bills without a single note of urgency.

Moreover, I would suggest that the committee is blinded by its activities in prisons. Although visiting incarcerated brothers-in-arms is noble, we should be working to prevent incarceration to start with—not delivering cookies to the slammer.

Your column suggests that PTSD should be introduced as a mitigating factor in sentencing. “Diminished Capacity” is a legal defense for a person suffering from PTSD. We don’t convict and beg. We don’t allow veterans to be victimized by a system that has no interest in their combat legacy. PTSD is a valid defense against prosecution.

Thomas J. Delaney
Via Email

I just finished reading “Thirty Names” in the March-April issue and feel compelled to thank you for making this truly wonderful experience available to all of us who wish we could have been there to hear the reading of the names at The Wall.

When I started reading, I thought: How hard can it be? You just get up and read a few names. But as I read on, I began to feel the reverence and pride Fred Wilhelm must have felt for those whose names he read, as well as for all the others whose names appear on that “Great Wall.” By the time I finished reading, I, too, had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

I served in the 120th Avn. Co. as a helicopter crew chief on assault helicopters from June ’69 to Aug. ’71, and have high school classmates as well as fellow 120th Avn. Co. soldiers’ names on The Wall. I visited in 1986, and it was one of the most moving experiences of my life. I still remember it as if it happened yesterday.

Ralph Torrey
Vergennes, Vermont

During the 1960s, ’70s, and the ’80s, I did not let it be known that I was in the service, let alone that I had served in Vietnam. My attitude stemmed from the way our government and the public treated us. You could say I was ashamed. Today, after almost forty years, I finally am proud to say that I am not only a retired serviceman, but that I served in Vietnam.

This was accomplished with a lot of counseling and with VVA setting an example for me by leading the fight against the worst treatment ever received by veterans from our government and the public. VVA set another example by working to change our image, to insure we receive our benefits, and to help all veterans.

This organization, its name and what we stand for, needs to stay in the eyes of the government and the public. Yes, there are other veterans’ organizations, but the VVA name is a reminder of the worst times that veterans ever had. We need to stand out forever as a reminder to all who follow us.

We can do this by supporting AVVA, but we must also change the VVA Constitution to permit AVVA to carry on our name and our work, even at the chapter level. If we do not do this, all of our accomplishments will disappear as we slowly die off.

Harold Melvin Cook
Miami, Oklahoma



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