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september/october 2007

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Affairs / Membership Affairs / Veterans Benefit Update / Arts Of War / Book Review / Ask The Parliamentarian / AVVA / Springfield Convention / Election Committee / ETABO / Fellowship Awards / Homeless Veterans Report / Letters / The Locator / Membership Notes / Minority Affairs / Parade / POW-MIA Report / PTSD Report / Public Affairs / Convention Resolutions / Reunions / Scholarship Committee / TAPS / VVAF / Women Veterans / Dine & Dance / Art Cornucopia / Honoring The Next Generation / Rack 'Em Up

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I read the July/August issue, as all others, with joy. The articles are real-time stories of where we are as a generation. I believe we are in a good place. The article on Khe Sahn from the Vietnamese perspective, as well as the book review on the National Guard, and the story on Randy Wright returning to Vietnam with his son, show various efforts on our part to get whole.

I could not have read those articles or written this without having returned to Vietnam myself. I was such a naïve boy of twenty that my one-year tour almost destroyed me. Thank God for people of good will.

Bob Quimby
Via E-mail

I write this without ill will nor malicious intent toward anyone, but I feel a statement made by a candidate for National Board of Directors at Large in the May/June issue must be addressed. Dan Stenvold is a fine man. I enjoyed reading his articulate column about Convention Rules. I’m sure his participation in many veterans’ organizations indicates he is a worthy advocate for veterans’ interests.
He states: “I was wounded twice but turned down the Purple Hearts as they were of the ‘John Kerry type,’ and I would not have felt right accepting them.” Am I hearing that there are two kinds of Purple Hearts? As a VVA member for 23 years, and a Life Member for 17, I have never heard of a “John Kerry Purple Heart.” Mr. Stenvold, if you were wounded twice in combat, you deserve two Purple Hearts.
Does this mean that veterans who proudly wear a Purple Heart must question whether or not they were awarded valid, honestly earned Purple Hearts? I am not a Purple Heart recipient, but through my many years of active service in VVA, I’ve met many Purple Heart recipients. Most are very humble and say, “It was nothing.” But to me, it means quite a lot.

Are there two types of Purple Hearts or was this a political jab at a former presidential candidate? This was not a very bipartisan statement. In the same issue, VVA Government Affairs Director Rick Weidman says that “VVA is bipartisan” and is “an equal opportunity membership.” If VVA is to remain bipartisan and an equal opportunity membership, we need to honor all of our Vietnam veteran brothers and sisters who have earned this prestigious medal.
I’d like to let Mr. Stenvold know that there is only one Purple Heart, not two, and offer my heartfelt thanks for his service to his country and Vietnam Veterans of America.

Gary Feikert
Santa Rosa, California

I was wounded once when I was 18 and once when I was 19. Both were multiple small wounds from mortars. Neither time did I need any stitches, nor was I dusted off, but both times I was asked if I wanted a Purple Heart and my answer both times was no.

In each incident several guys were wounded badly enough that they were taken away by dust-off, and some never came back to our unit. In my opinion, my Purple Hearts would have been cheap because I was not hurt badly enough to deserve them. This was my feeling when I was 18 and 19 and is my feeling today when I’m 57.

My reference to Kerry was not meant to be derogatory. I’m guessing he got caught up in the “medals” part of the war and said yes in the same instance when I said no. The people with him said some of his wounds never needed a bandage.
I know where Gary Feikert is coming from, but to me a missing limb gets a Purple Heart and the small cuts I had do not.

I’d like to thank everyone for a great convention and I look forward to the Leadership Conference in South Carolina. I’d also like to apologize to several folks I talked to in Springfield. I gave them a bad web site that I would like to correct. The correct web site is I told them about a local U.S. Navy veteran, Bob Williams, who has a great operation going in Wesley Chapel, Florida, near Tampa Bay, where he collects and ships tons of items to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Qatar.

Kevin Ruhl
Tampa, Florida

The new look of The VVA Veteran is excellent, very classy. However, I’m troubled that Marc Leepson’s “Arts of War” is nowhere to be found in May/June 2007. I trust it was left out for space considerations and that it’ll be back, because Mr. Leepson’s arts column and his “Books in Review” are among my favorite parts of the publication. Always his evaluations are fair and his recommendations reliable. I certainly hope that both of these superb regular features appear in the next issue and every issue thereafter.

Angus H. Paul
Washington, D.C.

Editor’s note: “Arts of War” was dropped from May/June due to a space crunch; it appears in this issue on p. 47.

I had the pleasure of working with Wes Guidry at the Vietnam Veterans of America Convention in Springfield, and it was a sheer delight. I have worked professionally in show business since I was twelve years old as an actress, singer, dancer, producer, and director. I have worked with every star in Hollywood and Europe from Oprah Winfrey to Dean Martin, from Frank Sinatra to the Beatles, and have even performed for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. In all that time I have never worked with anyone as calm, cool, and collected under pressure as Wes Guidry. He went way above the call of duty, and I feel it was an honor and privilege to work with him. VVA is extremely lucky to have such a talented producer.

Wanda Bailey
Via E-mail

Thanks for the outstanding “Jersey Guys” in the July/August issue in Membership Notes, and the exceptional coverage of pertinent issues and events in every issue.
Coordinating with Marc Leepson was a real pleasure. Our collective efforts produced an article that I believe speaks to all Vietnam veterans, AVVA members, and veterans from all campaigns, as it provided much-deserved and often-overlooked credit for the volunteer contributions veterans have provided—and continued to provide—all of our troops.

All too often people complain, but can’t seem to find the time to say “Thank You” and to provide feedback when a job is well done. I did not want to miss the opportunity to compliment The Veteran on the superb article and the timely and pertinent information given to our membership in every issue.

Joseph D. Meheski, Jr.
Trenton, New Jersey


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