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September/october 2008

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Central Virginia Chapter 78 in Richmond continues its strong involvement in community service work. In recent months, the chapter has, among other things, taken part in the Virginia Department of Transportation Adopt-A-Highway Program doing regular cleanups of a cloverleaf intersection on Chippenham Parkway; provided guest speakers to five area high schools; helped fund the Junior ROTC programs at Manchester and Chesterfield High Schools; helped underwrite biweekly bingo nights at the Richmond VAMC; created and funded awards at the local JROTC program in honor of two area service personnel who were killed in Iraq; set up and manned a Welcome Home and VVA information table at Vietnam Veterans Day at the Richmond VAMC; and provided support at the July 4th picnic for patients and staff at the hospital.

Las Vegas, Nevada, Chapter 17 was the subject of a recent article in the Northern Alliante View newspaper that highlighted the chapter’s community service work. The article also gave a short history of the chapter, which received its VVA charter in 1982, noting that its members are “among the most active in the country.” When the Chapter first formed, “we still did a lot of fundraising work, but we also got together a lot just to talk and kind of go through our troubles,” Ken Braker, the Nevada State Council President, said in the article. “We may be one of the smaller-sized veterans groups, but we’re doing good work, even though it may not be about a large sum of money or something sensational. We may not do things on the grandest scale, but we try to spread as wide as we can.”

Chapter 67 in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, this fall began its 25th year of sending speakers to schools in the county. The Chapter has a 12-member School Lecture Committee chaired by James Ulmer, the Chapter’s Vice President, and sends teams of three to four Vietnam veterans to visit between twelve and fifteen schools a year. Each team spends the entire school day at most schools. In recent years, the teams also have begun teaching teenagers how to respect and honor the latest generation of veterans.

New York State Council President Ned Foote, a member of the New York State Veterans Affairs Commission, took part in the commission’s first meeting in July in Albany. The commission, which provides input to the New York State Director of Veterans’ Affairs, discussed mental health screening for National Guard members after they return from Iraq and Afghanistan, and ways to increase the number of disabled veterans working in state and local government.

Charleston, South Carolina, Chapter 780 held its annual barbeque picnic in July at the Short Stay Navy Recreational Area just outside of Monks Corner, S.C. In addition to socializing, the chapter signed up one new life member, two new annual members, along with six prospective new members.

Mohave County, Arizona, Chapter 975 is in the early stages of setting up a Veterans Service Officer Program. Four Chapter members—J. Glenn Bright, Dave Clark, Roger Griffiths, and Noel Labonte—have completed the Service Rep correspondence course. The Chapter will use an office in Golden Valley provided rent free by Valley Pioneers Water Company. The hope is that the office will be ready by early October.

Ralph A. Garcia, a member of Bluffton, Indiana, Chapter 698, recently completed recertification training at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis as a Naval Academy Information Officer. As one of 2,100 nationwide Blue and Gold Officers, Garcia will help young men and women interested in attending the Naval Academy with the extensive application process and also will counsel prospective Midshipmen on all aspects of the Naval Academy.

In May, Queens, New York, Chapter 32 held its 18th annual Veterans Information Day. Chapter members provided nearly two hundred veterans from all eras with information on the services and benefits they are entitled to. Among those in attendance at the event: New York State Sen. Serphin Maltese and New York City Council member Anthony Como.

Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, Chapter 767 invited all disabled veterans to join them at the huge Fourth of July parade in Racine, one of the nation’s largest. The Chapter made a trailer available to accommodate wheelchair-bound veterans and provided chairs for those unable to walk. In addition to the trailer, the Chapter had its two “living statue” floats, one depicting the Vietnam Women’s Memorial statue, and the other the “Three Servicemen” statue at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, in the parade. The Women’s Memorial float was escorted by women portraying Donut Dollies. All in all, more than one hundred people participated in the Chapter’s parade contingent.

West Palm Beach, Florida, Chapter 25 conducted a congressional candidate interview session in July at its chapter headquarters. The chapter invited the three candidates running in the primary for the Republican nomination in the 16th Congressional District to visit the chapter and discuss veterans’ issues with key members of the chapter. The candidates who appeared were former Navy pilot Hal Valeche, a VVA member, and Florida State Rep. Gayle Harrell, whose husband is a Vietnam veteran.

In an effort to reorganize and rebuild, Capital City Chapter 488 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, took part in the first All Veterans Reunion, a four-day event at the Louisiana capital in May. The event included military exhibitions and a Vietnam Veterans Moving Wall. “This was a good way for us to get out in public and let people and former members know we are
still around,” said Chapter President Don Holland.

Austin, Texas, Chapter 915 has given $500 to the VVA Texas State Council’s Service Officer Program. In doing so, the Chapter challenged the other VVA chapters in the Lone Star State to match or exceed that donation. In 2007 and 2008, the Texas State Council received grants from VVA’s Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund to support and expand its Service Officer program, which is open to all generations of veterans and has had consistently high claim success rates.

Kyle Orlemann of South Bay Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, makes ski caps for cancer patients at the West Los Angeles and Long Beach Medical Centers. She had been using her own funds to buy the materials until the chapter voted several months ago (without her knowledge) to provide her with $250 to buy materials. Most recently, Chapter member Steve Mandel delivered twenty-two of the caps to the Long Beach facility’s Volunteer Center.

Richard Caputo, the former Vice President and co-founder of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Chapter 590, was given a special award in May for the outstanding work he has done for the chapter, including his editorship of the Chapter newsletter Charlie Mike. “No award could possibly be recognition enough to this Vietnam veteran for the valuable leadership and service he has given to Chapter 590,” said Chapter member Daniel Levy.

In the month of July, Plymouth-Canton Chapter 528 in Plymouth, Michigan, made three charitable donations: $100 for the Lyman Foundation Annual Golf Outing benefiting the Burger School for Students with Autism; $300 to help U.S. troops in Afghanistan; and $300 in memory of Joe Piotrowski to the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Rudolf Steiner School of Ann Arbor.

Members of Northern Virginia Chapter 227 and Silver Spring, Maryland, Chapter 641 took part in a Welcome Home Celebration June 14 for more than four hundred veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and active-duty military personnel and their families at the Washington, D.C., VA Medical Center. Chapter 227 members Bruce Waxman, Bill Lynch, Roy White, and Jim Thur worked at the event, in which health screenings and information about benefits, employment, and academic support were offered.

Washtenaw County, Michigan, Chapter 310 sent forty-five care packages to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on July 2. That brought the total number of packages the Chapter has sent to 1,321. One of the organizers of the project, Chapter Board member John Kinzinger, estimates that the Chapter has sent about ten tons of goods to the troops in the six years since the program began.

Santa Rosa, California, Chapter 223 held a Welcome Home Barbeque June 22 at the Veterans Building Dining Room for veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, active-duty military personnel, and their families to thank them for their service. The event was co-sponsored by the Veterans of Modern Warfare. The Chapter is working with VMW to form a local chapter in Santa Rosa.

Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82 earlier this year adopted a U.S. Army platoon deployed in Afghanistan. The Chapter has sent three care packages—including toiletry items and canned and packaged food—to the platoon, which is part of the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry, and is collecting more items for future shipments.

John Porter of Branson, Missouri, Chapter 913 presented a check for $1,000 from the Chapter on June 14 to the Adopt-A-Platoon program run by a local Hy-Vee store. The store sends care packages to two platoons of Army troops that shipped out from nearby Fort Leonard Wood in November of 2007 to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Paul Carro of Summit, New Jersey, a member of Westfield, New Jersey, Chapter 688, was named the POW/MIA Activist of the Year by the National Alliance of Families of POWs/MIAs at the Alliance’s 2008 national conference in Washington, D.C., in June. Carro was selected for his effort during the past year on behalf of a bill pending in the U.S. House of Representatives to establish a Select Committee on POW and MIA Affairs.

Fresno, California, Chapter 933 was the driving force behind the Vietnam War Monument that was dedicated in June at the VA Medical Center in Fresno. The $10,000 black granite monument honors all who served in the Vietnam War era. It features a map of North and South Vietnam on one side and a copy of the famed Lee Teter “Reflections” print (courtesy of Cumberland, Maryland, Chapter 172) on the other. The dedication was the culmination of a three-year effort by the Chapter. “We knew we wanted to have something local for veterans, but this is really far beyond what we first envisioned,” said Rick Hanniford, the Chapter’s Vice President. In addition to honoring those who perished in the war, the monument is “also for us, for our generation to show where we served,” Hanniford said. “The Wall in D.C. is a memorial. This is a monument to the ones who made it.”

Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 is building a Memorial Walkway at the Vietnam Memorial in Beaver. The brick walkway will honor veterans, both living and deceased, loved ones and friends of veterans, and veterans’ organizations. The engraved bricks are being donated by the Rome Monument Company.

Genesee County, Michigan, Chapter 175 hosted the Traveling Dignity Memorial Vietnam Wall at Bluebell Beach in Genesee Township June 18-22. “Not everyone can go to [Washington] D.C.,” said Chapter member Donald Lada, who co-chaired the committee that brought the replica to town. “This gives people and veterans the privilege to see The Wall.” The Chapter “has accomplished many wonderful things over the years,” said Past President Joseph M. Mishler, “but five events stand out: the Traveling Wall in 1988, 1997, 2003, and 2008, and the Reflections Monument.”



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