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

February 2001/March 2001

President’s Message

In The Shadow of Wannabes 

By George C. Duggins


Last November, Vietnam Veterans of America and Harris Publishing produced the VVA Membership Directory 2000. It included information on VVA members. Similar directories were produced in 1992 and 1996 and proved to be very popular with our membership.  The problem with the directory for 2000 is that it contains errors.  The errors have been dutifully reported by our members.  In some cases members themselves have reported the errors in their own data and in other cases members have reported errors about other members' data.

It is important to understand what membership data was provided and by whom.  Information for the directory came from two sources: the VVA database and the questionnaires filled out by our members and submitted to Harris Publishing. The VVA membership database was the source for  member names, addresses, phone numbers, gender, branch of service, dates of service (if known), and chapter affiliations. Harris Publishing gathered military rank, branch of service, dates of service (with up to three entries for dates of Vietnam service), unit designations, and military medals and awards. 

Errors in the VVA Membership Directory 2000 came from three sources.  Errors in addresses, phone numbers, gender and branch of service could have come from the membership database.  VVA confirms the information in the membership database through periodic verifications with chapters, and that data therefore is relatively accurate.

The second source of error is Harris Publishing.  There have been cases where the publishing company transposed members' data. VVA does not believe that this type of error was very prevalent.

Both of these errors are annoying and frustrating to the member affected by the error. VVA sincerely apologizes for these errors and will take measures to work with Harris Publishing to minimize errors in future directories.

The third source of errors in the directory is from a few members themselves. Unfortunately, some of the information submitted by our members included exaggerated claims about miitary achievements and awards. 

Out of the 50,000 questionnaires submitted, only a miniscule fraction contained intentionally false information. Sadly, this casts a shadow over our entire organization. Some of you have seen reference to this issue on the VVA Talklist and rightfully demanded corrective action. Ironically, each false entry has been easy to disprove, but the book is in print and the damage is done. The one issue that unites veterans is the universal repudiation of "wannabes,"  This is especially true when false claims include decorations this country awards only to its bravest sons and daughters.  I speak for everyone at VVA when I say that we, as an organization  regret these errors. 


E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

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