A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

August 2000/September 2000

President’s Message

Our Day In The Sun: A Veterans Day Message

By George C. Duggins


This Veterans Day, Vietnam Veterans of America gains its rightful place in the sun as wehost the nation's official Veterans Day 2000 Ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

This honor recognizes the dedication of all VVA members and salutes our unrelentingefforts to secure justice and recognition for the service and sacrifices of our generation of veterans. We've been working on these goals for more than two decades. Let's not kid ourselves: It has been a struggle.

In the early days, we faced an entrenched adversary we referred to as the Iron Triangle, consisting of the VA, Congress, and some of the traditional veterans service organizations. They often blocked innovative initiatives that would have changed the landscape of veterans affairs in this country.

We were challenged every step of the way on our march to secure Judicial Review of VA decisions until 1983 when the Court of Veterans Appeals was created as part of landmark legislation elevating the Veterans Administration to cabinet status.

We faced a daunting task while seeking our Congressional Charter, which connoted the legitimization of our service and our ethics. Only after a full-court press lobbying effort by VVA’s leaders and our friends in Congress did the Senate vote to grant our charter, thus making VVA a recognized player on the national level and leveling the playing field for Vietnam veterans.

To be sure, we have been stubborn, uncompromising, and tenacious in our efforts to ensure the VA address the complex needs of our generation of veterans and our families. It was the unyielding pressure of our membership that secured the future of the Vet Center program and caused the VA to recognize the critical need for counseling services for veterans, now extended to veterans of all conflicts.

It was through our untiring advocacy that legislation was enacted providing service connection for a variety of Agent Orange-related illnesses, including the recognition that children of Vietnam veterans are affected as well, with the historic granting of benefits to children who suffer with spina bifida.

VVA members have been ahead of the curve on the issue of hepatitis C, one of the crueler health problems we face. Those of us who came home apparently healthy, now--after 25 years--face the uncertainty of the effects of this disease, including the risk of passing it on to our spouses and children.

We have worked for 22 years through our devotion to our duty as veterans, and through our undying loyalty to the memory of our comrades whose service and sacrifice is memorialized on granite and marble monuments across this great country of ours.

We got here because veterans refused to take no for an answer. We got here because VVA members chose to fight for what is right. We got here because you live every day as our motto says, ``In Service to America.''

Our country and our veterans owe you--the members of Vietnam Veterans of America-- a great debt. The opportunity to host the National Veterans Day 2000 Ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery is your day in the sun. You have earned it.


E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

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