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september/october 2007

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Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund Report

By Keith King, President, VVAF
As the President of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund (VVAF) and having been involved with Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) for over 25 years, I have met many very talented members. However, it seems that no one ever took inventory of the talents of our members. The VVAF Board would like to know what you do as a profession or as a hobby.

We recently talked to a VVA member who travels a lot for his business. He told us he had over a million traveler miles that he would donate to VVAF. We have been trying for months to contact the airlines to get us added to a charity list so we can use those miles. The point is: We’re not just looking for what you do, but who you know. The Chairman and CEO of HBO is a Vietnam veteran. It was through one of our members who contacted him that HBO got involved in Broadway to Baghdad. That event succeeded because he was willing to network with his contacts to help us.

Well, it seems to us that we should be networking with ourselves. Right now, VVAF is launching the largest fund-raising effort in its history. We want to expand the VVA service officer program. “Expand” might be the wrong word; we want to recreate it in conjunction with VVA. We are looking to provide funding for two VVA service officers and an assistant in every state. It will take millions to do it. However, it appears to us that it should be easy to raise the money if we just ask for help.
The problem, as we see it, is that we just haven’t asked the right people. We need to train our people and younger veterans to make sure they receive their health care and benefits from the VA. We have veterans dying because they don’t know or were refused help from the VA. So, who do you know? What do you do that you think can help us? Don’t be modest or shy. We don’t know what we need until we see it.

Here is what we need from you:

  • Your time. It is the most valuable asset you have and we know it, but if you’re not willing or able to give us some of your time, we would just as soon not know about your talent.
  • Your talent, and what you can do. We need everything, so if you’re really good at something, let us know about it.
  • Who do you know, and are you willing to reach out to that person and ask for the help we need?
  • Your willingness to allow us to put your name and contact information in a database for us to start matching needs to talents is critical to the success of this effort. We will keep the database secure and will protect it, but if we need to build a team to complete the job, we have to know who and where everyone is.
  • Your money. Okay, we’re asking for your money because we know many business owners and members who simply don’t or won’t give us their time or contacts but they have money, a lot of money. Send us $1,000 or $5,000 or $1,000,000, and we will name a program after you.

Think Excel spread sheet and email the file to or fill out this form and mail to: Inventory of Talent 8605 Cameron St., Ste. 400, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3710.

Here’s the math on the service officer program: For two VVA Service officers and an assistant, we figured the VVAF should budget $80,000 a year. That times 50 states equals $4 million. We have a whole new generation of veterans who need our help. We believe we have the best program in the country, and who better to train them than us?

VVAF owns and operates three transitional houses and two permanent supportive housing homes in Connecticut for veterans in need. To upgrade the homes, pay for staff, and give us an opportunity to expand our services to the other states, we need a $2 million endowment. We know that we have members and associates who are grant writers. How about helping us with HUD and the VA to get grants for homeless veterans or veterans in need of a place to stay while they get their lives together? We already are seeing homeless Iraq veterans, and we know that drugs and alcohol problems are affecting them.

Veterans Against Drugs is one of the best programs VVA has, and it’s the most under-funded. VVAF estimated that we need $10,000 per state for printing leave- behind materials, travel expenses, and per diem for the volunteers who present this program to school-age children. The total is $500,000 to run one of the most effective anti-drug programs ever developed. We could use the grant writers and community activists and school board members and the PTA to help us on funding this. We have elected officials in our membership who could use their contacts to help us get federal, state, or local anti-drug grants. Consider this a request for your help.

The VVAF also funds other great programs. Such as the bush pilots in Alaska who go get veterans and take them to a VA hospital and the horse-riding events for disabled veterans and, of course, many Stand-downs. There were many programs that we wanted to support but we ran out of funds this year. This funding cycle, we had requests for almost $400,000, and we had a little over half of that amount to grant. If we round the additional programs up to $500,000, it will make our target an even $7 million.

So, it’s time to take inventory. Please step up and be counted.

The VVAF Board: Keith King, President;
Fred Elliott, Secretary; John Miterko, Treasurer;
Jim Grissom, Member; Ezell Ware, Member;
Ira Cooperman, Member; Joe Sternburg, Executive Director.


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