February 2001/March 2001
Semiannual Committee Reports
Agent Orange/dioxin Committee Semiannual Report
By George Claxton, Chair
The Agent Orange issue is at a critical juncture. On one side we have
the U.S. government and its Office of Management and Budget (OMB), who are
interested in saving money. On the other side, we have the World Health
Organization (WHO), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all of whom have said that dioxin
causes cancer in humans.
The committee understands the relationship between Agent Orange and
billions of dollars of taxpayer money. It’s not that taxpayers would not
fight for veterans, but that OMB might make compensation decisions
regardless of the scientific evidence. Let nobody be confused about who
the final arbitrator is.
The practical answer to the political dilemma concerns the issue of
priorities. Are veterans important enough to deserve Agent Orange
benefits? In every war veterans have suffered in one way or another when
it comes to benefits. There is a strange irony in how veterans are
perceived during a war and the benefits they receive after the war.
The Agent Orange Committee has tried to find out the truth concerning
the Louisville dioxin birth defects study. This is why we are a separate
standing committee. Now, more than ever, we are fighting for the rights of
Agent Orange victims. This task can only be accomplished by experts. The
Agent Orange Committee deals with many aspects of the issue. The committee
members are experts on Agent Orange and its related poisons. VVA would
suffer greatly if this committee were consolidated into another committee.
The Agent Orange resolutions speak for themselves. Some of them are
highly technical and take experts to implement. They were written with the
intent of defining and combating problems that are difficult to
The committee has made a lot of progress, including the beginnings of
research in Vietnam. We hope this can be accomplished, but it has to be
implemented and monitored by experts. Without these experts, the research
will fail. This is because big industry wants to stop the dioxin issue at
any cost. Everyone on the Agent Orange Committee understands these facts.
Paul Sutton and I attended the motion hearing of an Agent Orange case
before Judge Jack Weinstein in New York in December 1999. All of the
chemical company lawyers were there, and they won the motion to dismiss.
This is because Judge Weinstein--chief judge of the Wall Street
court--does not believe that there is any evidence linking dioxin with
human disease, except for chloracne. This despite the fact that WHO, NTP,
and EPA have decided that dioxin is a human carcinogen. Judge Weinstein’s
decision is the epitome of ignorance. However, this case is not over.
Vietnam veterans are dying every day from dioxin poisoning. VVA needs
an expert committee that will fight for the rights of dioxin victims with
the knowledge to win the battle.
Chair: George Claxton. Vice Chair: Paul Sutton. Members: Lois Beck,
David Carter, Jack Devine, Michael Eckstein, Alan Gibson, Michael Lay,
Darrell Martin, and Robert Stocker. Special Advisers: Catherine Greene and
Gerry Ney. Staff Coordinator: Tonya Lowery.
Employment Training And Business Opportunities
Committee Semiannual Report
By Calvin P. Gross, Chair
The committee has accepted a new task and focus for the next year:
"Military to Work."
1. Current military personnel have received the same training from
the same instructors as their civilian counterparts. The difference is
that the military documentation of this training does not make this
clear in service members’ 201 files.
2. States do not always accept military licenses and often collect
high fees by making former service personnel retrain for the same jobs
they performed in the military.
1. Microsoft program training and Cisco Systems equipment training
2. Truck drivers in the military have CDL licenses and drive the
same equipment that their civilian counterparts drive.
Employers do not always recognize the military certificates because
they are not specific enough.
The ETABO Committee wants to interface with government agencies to work
on these problems that affect military personnel separating from the
service. Department of Labor, Small Business Administration, and the
Department of Commerce will be the government agencies we will focus on.
There are other issues we will ask the Government Affairs Committee to
help us with, such as the Montgomery GI Bill being used for fees for
states that do not recognize military licenses. We, as a committee, are
open to input from our membership.n
Chair: Calvin Gross; Vice Chair: Alan Gibson. Members: Darrel Brown,
Barry Hagge, Darrel Martin, Wayne Reynolds, Carlton Rhodes, Richard Ritz,
Mike Schott, Beverly Stewart, Jeff White.
Government Affairs Committee Semiannual Report
Phil Litteer, Chair
Here is a rundown of the committee’s work on the 1999 Committee
G-1-99, The "Veterans Vote!" campaign. Last year’s vote
packets were a tremendous success. Packets were distributed to state
councils and chapters. Many of their newsletters contained clip art and
messages encouraging veterans to get out and vote.
G-2-99, The Legislative Coordinators Network. Sharon Hodge at
the national office has done a magnificent job organizing and
communicating with the network. If you would like to be part of this
Legislative Coordinator Network, please e-mail Sharon at Shodge@vva.org
G-3-99, Support for the National Gulf War Resource Center. VVA
continues to support the veterans of the Gulf War and will continue to
support NGWRC and its new executive director.
G-4-99, Extension of Vietnam Conflict Ending Date & Eligibility for
Vietnam Service Medal. We recently learned that a bill expected from
Rep. Jack Quinn (R-N.Y.) that will finally identify all-inclusive Vietnam
War dates has been put on hold. Our national office staff will remain on
top of this important legislation.
G-5-99, Vet Center Eligibility for Vietnam-era Veterans. Public
Law 106-117 extended Vet Center eligibility to September 31, 2003.
However, the Vet Center readjustment counseling resources services must be
expanded to meet the needs of all veterans who receive services from the
Vet Centers. VVA will continue to support this resolution.
G-6-99, Establishment by the DVA of More Convenient Sites for
Veterans Hearings. This resolution has been fully satisfied, due in
large part to VVA's efforts.
G-7-99, Service Connection for Hepatitis C. This item is addressed
in the 2001 Legislative Agenda. H.R. 1020 (a sweeping hep C service
connection bill), H.R. 4791 (hep C limited service connections related
only to certain blood transfusions and hemodialysis), and H.R. 5132 (hep C
testing and treatment) are expected to be reintroduced this year in the
House of Representatives. VVA will support all these bills.
G-8-99, Re-establishment of Service-connected Disability in Certain
Tobacco-related Illnesses. No activity.
G-9-99, Commemoration of 50th Anniversary of the End of the Korean War.
The national office keeps a calendar pursuant to this resolution so that
VVA is represented on the dates and memorial occasions specified in the
G-10-99, Commemorative Stamp Honoring the United States Coast Guard.
This resolution was retired by the Government Affairs Committee on January
The process of compiling VVA’s 2001 Legislation Agenda and Policy
Initiatives has been completed. It was adopted by the National Board of
Directors on January 27. This 2001 agenda is the product of several months
of work involving virtually all of the VVA committee and task force
chairs. This agenda serves as a road map for addressing legislation and
administrative policy advocated by Vietnam Veterans of America.
Chair: Phil Litteer. Vice Chair: Fred Elliott. Members: George
Corbett, Jerry Klein, Wayne Miller, John Miner, Jeff White, Calvin Gross,
Bob Maras, Marsha Four, Joe Saxman, Fred Urban, Allen Manuel, Bob Piaro,
Carl Jensen, Ray Aldao, and George Claxton. Special Adviser: Nancy
Switzer. Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
Membership Committee Semiannual Report
By Charlie Montgomery, Chair
One of the top priorities of VVA’s Membership Affairs Committee has
been to improve communications at all levels throughout the organization.
We encourage our membership to communicate with the national Membership
Department and the Membership Committee. We are all here to serve our
members whenever and wherever possible.
The Membership Committee is working alongside the Associates of Vietnam
Veterans of America (AVVA) to help them in the development and growth of
their organization. The committee submitted a resolution at the National
Convention in Anaheim that states that VVA strongly supports AVVA to work
with our families and others to improve the conditions of Vietnam-era
veterans, their families, and others.
Resolution M-10-99, which was passed at the Anaheim Convention,
deals with Verification and Security of the DD Form 214 and is important
in the verification of eligibility dates for VVA membership. In order to
comply with the IRS’s position on VSOs, we must be careful to check DD
Form 214s for dates for new members. It is our responsibility at all
levels of VVA to make sure that all applicants meet the requirements for
eligibility and have the proper documentation to substantiate it. DD Form
214s should be kept in secure and confidential locations.
All the Committee members are looking forward to meeting members at the
National Convention in Greensboro in August. I would like to thank all the
members of the committee and the national staff who have helped put us on
the right track to achieve our goals. It has been a collective effort.
Remember: membership is a team effort. We all need to work together.
Chair: Charles Montgomery. Members: Lupe Alviar, Richard Bergling, Fred
Elliott, Ned Foote, Rocky Gothard, Larry Klein, Marshall Mudge, Wayne
Miller, and Fara Sanchez. Special Advisers: Nancy Montgomery and Nancy
Switzer. Staff Coordinator: Allen Green.
POW/MIA Affairs Committee Semiannual Report
By Gary N. Varnell, Sr., Chair
As of the end of January, 1,991 Americans remain unaccounted for from
the Vietnam War. There are 636 Army missing; 406 Navy missing; 252 Marine
Corps missing; 657 Air Force missing; and one missing from the Coast
Guard. Additionally, 39 civilians remain unaccounted for. A total of 592
Americans have been accounted for since 1973. Of the remaining cases,
1,144 have been tagged for further pursuit, 201 cases have been deferred,
and 646 cases have been classified for no further pursuit.
Limited joint field operations were conducted in Cambodia over the
two-week period that concluded November 21. These investigations were
preparations for a full-scale joint field activity in January 2001 that
was scheduled to include a trilateral operation in Laos. On December 5-6,
U.S.-Lao POW/MIA consultations, led by JTF-FA Commander Brig. Gen. Harry
Axson, took place in Vientiane. These important talks, following the
ten-year assessment conducted in Hawaii in early September, responded to
concerns raised by Laos and focused on the program for FY 2001. JTF-FA
urged Laos to permit more U.S. personnel to participate in joint field
operations. The number was raised from 40 to 45 in September; an
additional five people would enable the United States to field a fifth
On December 17, the United States and North Korea reached an agreement
to expand the search for the remains of Americans killed in the Korean
War. A battlefield where many dead were left in shallow graves amid
retreat was added to the search area.
There will be ten joint search operations in 2001, twice as many as in
2000. The Pentagon’s POW/MIA Office reported that the 2001 agreement
significantly expands the size of the U.S. teams, increases the length of
U.S. activities, and adds areas of operations.
The search teams have recovered what are believed to be the remains of
107 servicemen, including 65 found this year during five missions by
20-person squads. Five sets of remains have been positively identified.
In 2001, there will be ten operations by 28-man teams. Each will last
32 days--up from 26 days last year. The searches will be conducted between
April and November because the ground is frozen during winter.
The negotiators agreed for the first time to search areas around the
Chosin Reservoir, 50 miles north of Pyongyang, where U.S. officials hope
to recover the remains of some thousand servicemen. There are still 8,100
Americans who remain unaccounted for from the Korean War.
President George W. Bush’s secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld,
served in four Republican administrations, dating back to Richard Nixon.
The POW/MIA Affairs Committee looks forward to working with Secy. Rumsfeld
and the Bush administration for the speediest full accounting of those
Americans still unaccounted for. Robert Jones, the DPMO chief, has been
asked to stay on for an indefinite time.
On January 11, Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig changed the
classification of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher, an F-18 pilot who was
shot down during the first night of the Gulf War in 1991. Lt. Cmdr.
Speicher’s classification changed from KIA/BNR (Killed In Action/Body
Not Recovered) to MIA because U.S. government officials believe there is a
good possibility that Cmdr. Speicher survived the crash of his plane in
the Iraqi desert.
This is the first time that any serviceman has been reclassified from
KIA/BNR to MIA. We now have one MIA from the Gulf War.
Chair: Gary Varnell. Members: Tom Corey, Agnes Feak, Dan Johnson,
Larry Klein, Joe Kristek, Ken Mabe, Doug Perkins, John Rowan, Frank Stacy,
Jack Thomas, Bob Reiser, and Jim Weir. Special Advisers: Sara Bernasconi
and Bill Duker. Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
A discussion of the Convention Resolutions resulted in the decision to
continue all resolutions to two of them: To include the family and
advocate for the creation of a family liaison position at both the VA and
in the 210 Vet Centers focusing on family therapy issues as well as the
physiological effects on the children of veterans.
The in-country effect will be taken into consideration when the
resolutions are revised.
The woman Veterans Committee is looking at P-66-99 to review and expand
the scope of the Woman’s Trauma Resolution.
The chair spoke of the necessity to increase the funding of the Vet
Center program by 10 percent over three years to bring it back to par and
compensate for inflation as well as to compensate for the 20-25% loss of
overall organizational capacity as it relates to chronically mentally ill,
substance treatment and PTSD was addressed with discussion bout the
long-term physiological effects of untreated stress, anxiety, and
The committee recommended the introduction of a resolution addressing
the issue of confidentiality of health records, particularly as it relates
to mental-health records, and the need to reverse the MOU between The VA
and the Department of Justice.
The chair reported on the International Society for Traumatic Stress
Studies Conference held in San Antonio. He noted the finding of the
conference that managed care (HMOs) has had a negative impact on the
quality and quantity of mental health services. The Vietnam Veterans of
Australian reported the following co-morbidity symptoms of mental health
illnesses within their veteran population: 51% of veterans diagnosed with
PTSD had substance-abuse issues and within that group 31% had chronic
Level 2 depression and 18% suffered from high and acute anxiety.
The committee recognized the need to assemble/update the self-help
guide and creates a symptom-identification fact sheet. (Some PTSD
characteristics: Unresolved grief reaction; selblaming survival guilt;
rexperiencing the trauma rumination, intrusive thoughts, and nightmares;
isolationism; anger; rage; a lack of ability to experience intimacy in
relationships; loss of control during trauma resulting in control issues
becoming an obsession; avoidance and self-numbing, etc.)
At the November board meeting the PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee
heard a presentation by Dr. Al Batres, Director of the VAMC Vet Center
Program. He gave an overview of the readjustment counseling service. Mr.
Richard T. Suchinsky gave a history of the substance abuse program at the
VAMC, tracking the history of funding and treatment from 1989 to present.
Dr. Batres shared a number of interesting statistics relating to the
Vet Center program including a profile of the number of veterans diagnosed
with PTSD at the Vet Centers from various wars and conflicts. His
statistics were that veterans served from the Vietnam War numbered 92,526;
WarII, 15,822; from Korea; 5,555; from the Gulf war, 5,844; and peacetime
veterans,4,601. Dr. Batres was understandably very proud of the number of
Veterans served by the program. Of those served 90% indicated satisfaction
and would refer a friend to the program. He went on to the state that 70%
of the staff are Veterans themselves and that 25% of the services are
provided outside of the Centers in homeless shelters, on the streets,
veterans homos, and eight that are located on Native American
A discussion ensured regarding Dr. Batres vision for improving the Vet
Center program. He started that if he had the resources he would augment
the three to five person teams before recommending adding new locations.
Dr. Batres encouraged any efforts from the Vet Centers to bring the
clients into the VVA fold so they could continue to heal in a supportive
environment. He spoke of the importance of sharing information and of
keeping an open dialog.
Next Mr. Richard Suchinsky spoke to committee members stating that the
V.A. has been a pioneer in research and treatment of addictive disorders.
He noted that by 1995, because of better testing methods, the number of
veterans diagnosed with PTSD were also identified with dual diagnosis was
upward of 65% to 70%. 30% of those treated for PTSD also suffer from acute
and serious anxiety disorder. He went on to CBOC (community based
outpatient clinics), another funding shift away from inpatient residential
treatment of PTSD treatment at walk in clinics. The progressive erosion of
programs as the funding for PTSD treatment has been diverted into other
areas has effectively decreased the V.A.’s ability to provide quality
Rick Weidman, Director of Government Relations, spoke the VVA National
office distributed the GAO report released on April 21, 200. It concluded
that the V.A. is in non-compliance with the law regarding the maintenance
capacity for specialized programs at a rate equal to services provided in
1996. He recommended advocating for a 10% sustained funding increase over
the next three years.
The committee concluded the meeting with a brief discussion of a PTSD
study by Ms. Marlene Huff Ph.D. of the University of Kentucky. The study
in entitled "Does the Timing of Life Course Really Matter? The
perceptions of Vietnam Veterans were also addressed.
The committee voted to add two new members to the committee. We welcome
Pete Duerr, Arizona State Council President and Joseph Friend. A motion
was made and passed to appoint Father Phil Salios as Vice-Chair to the
The chair reviewed the legislative priorities for 2001:
1. PTSD/Mental Health treatment must be available in all
geographic areas (22 vsns). The amount of care available should be
related to the veteran population.
2. Expansion of existing alcohol and substance abuse detox
services in all VAMCs/CBOCs.
3. Treatment and care of severely chronically mental ill
4. Legislation to create a "veterans families service
office" within the VA system to provide service families of
veterans regarding a range of issues from birth defects to secondary
5. End discrimination in allocation of resource against neuro-psychiatric
6. Holistic care approach for PTSD, mental health, and sexual
trauma. Allocate for permanent sexual trauma treatment.
7. Extend mental health to the VA’s services to rural and
suburban communities based on outpatient clinics.
8. Extend residential PTSD treatment.
9. Extend VA mental-health services to more fully treat veterans
with dual diagnoses (co morbidity) such as PTSD and chronic
depression, PTSD, and extreme anxiety.
10. Expand PTSD treatment after care and support system of follow
up counseling for an extended period of time.
11. Advocate for the funding/ reinstatement of funding for
Public Affairs Committee Report
Resolving to Do The Job
By Jim Doyle, Chair
The Public Affairs Committee will submit two new resolutions to
delegates at the National Convention in Greensboro. We also will recommend
that one resolution should be retired and that several others should be
designated "continuing resolutions."
The committee will propose a resolution that addresses our relationship
with the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. VVA and our members have an obligation
to dedicate ourselves to a lifelong commitment to The Wall.
VVA members occasionally assist in washing The Wall. Various
veterans and active military organizations take responsibility for the
weekly washing during spring, summer, and fall. Montgomery County,
Maryland, Chapter 641 is responsible for washing The Wall on the
first Saturday of each month.
During VVA's observance of the 25th anniversary of the end
of the Vietnam War last April, both VVA and AVVA national boards, the
Conference of State Council Presidents, and VVA staff took part in the
cleansing as guests of Chapter 641. Again in June, VVA members joined Sons
and Daughters In Touch to wash The Wall during SDIT’s Father's
Day 2000 reunion.
Recently, Will Schwartz of Maryland gathered 13 volunteer
electricians--seven of whom are Vietnam veterans--from two different
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) locals. One January
Saturday morning, they changed the lamps in all the footlights at The
Wall. This action prompted the committee to recognize that, in
addition to our emotional attachment to The Wall, we have a
responsibility to be actively involved in its care and preservation. This
resolution will speak to the need for our VVA family to become more
directly involved with activities and programs at the Vietnam Veterans
The second resolution reaffirms our support for the In Memory Plaque
project. Ruth Coder Fitzgerald spearheaded this project and came to VVA
several years ago requesting our support for the effort to place a
plaque that would honor those service members who returned home from
Vietnam, only to die later as a direct result of their service. The plaque
will be located somewhere on the 13-acre Vietnam Veterans Memorial site.
VVA twice testified before Congress in support of this effort and
believes that our membership should endorse and support this project with
public awareness and other activities.
The committee also will submit a Constitutional Amendment that more
clearly defines the role and activities of the Public Affairs Committee.
The year 2000 was very successful for VVA, especially in our dealings
with Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of VVA’s
initiatives that addressed our concerns with benefit issues were resolved
in favor of the positions taken by VVA when it presented its legislative
priorities to Congress and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Morton v. West Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims decision
was reversed by congressional action. This battle was won because VVA was
persistent in its efforts to create a veterans benefits system that is
fair to veterans and brings the Department of Veterans Affairs back into
the position of assisting veterans with their applications for benefits.
VVA was successful in its efforts to make diabetes mellitus adult-onset
Type II a presumptive service-connected disability. The proposed
regulations will be published by the spring. We are awaiting the
regulation for hepatitis C to be published by the VA, but we will continue
our efforts to pass legislation through Congress to make hepatitis C a
presumptive service-connected disability.
VVA was instrumental in the re-establishment of the Veterans Health
Administration Directive 00-029 that allows VA physicians to provide
medical opinions. The Veterans Benefits Committee is interested in
monitoring the implementation of this directive. If problems arise, I am
asking VVA members to contact Len Selfon, the director of VVA’s Veterans
VVA was successful in convincing Congress to establish benefits in two
other areas. Public Law 106-419, Section 302--Special Monthly Compensation
(SMC for Mastectomy) became law on November 1. The credit for this
important legislative victory goes to Marsha Four, the chair of VVA’s
Women Veterans Committee, Rick Weidman, Phil Litteer, Len Selfon, and the
Government Affairs Committee and staff, and all VVA members who fought for
women veterans. The provision that covers this legislation can be found in
38 CFR 3.114, Part 25.18.
Another legislative victory was Public Law 106-419, Section
40--Children of Women Vietnam Veterans Born with Certain Birth Defects,
effective December 1. VVA’s Veterans Benefits Committee will monitor the
implementation of both sections of law.
VVA achieved success in the 106th Congress, but we have much
more to accomplish in the future. I am looking forward to a productive
year as the 107th Congress begins its work.
Veterans Affairs Semiannual Committee Report
By Bob Maras, Chair
At our recent National Board meeting, the Veterans Affairs Committee
began the process of reviewing convention resolutions. We will continue
working on them to meet the deadline for necessary changes or deletions.
Committee members put a lot of good ideas on the table, and we will act on
them. Please remember that the ideas of all members are welcome and
important to the committee.
We have had several meetings on Capitol Hill and with the new Veterans
Administration Secretary, Anthony Principi. He is one of us, a Vietnam
veteran, so let’s give him a chance to do his job. Rest assured that we
will keep an eye on him and will hold additional meetings with him to make
sure our veterans are not forgotten.
As the 107th Congress begins its work, there are a number of bills of
importance to veterans. The most pressing are those dealing with hep C. We
are hopeful that we will get the necessary legislation passed for testing
and compensation for this terrible disease.
On a final note, once again this year we are holding our "Take the
Hill" rally in Washington. The date is June 14 at 11:00 a.m. on the
steps of the Capitol. This year we have the support of the A.F.G.E. and
several veterans groups. If you are able to attend, please do so.
Women Veterans Committee Semiannual Report
By Marsha Four, Chair
Our committee tries to accomplish many things for veterans on the
fronts of membership, advocacy, outreach, health care, benefits, and
legislation. But the committee is a very small component contributing to
the overall accomplishments of VVA. Success can only be measured when the
efforts of all contributors are taken into account. The effort of those
working in the field at the state council and chapter levels, with
veterans, other Veterans Service Organizations, agencies, organizations,
legislators, friends, and families serving as advocates and activists and
keeping abreast of local situations--this is where the true progress is
made and felt.
The committee recognizes that achievement has been realized through
your efforts. We thank you for all you have done on behalf of women
veterans and all veterans.
In early February, I was part of a group that met at the VVA national
office with the newly appointed secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony
Principi. It was an opportunity for Vietnam Veterans of America to discuss
a host of issues in a relaxed setting. Several woman veterans' issues were
discussed, including the rating schedule for service-connected
mastectomies and the Woman Veteran Coordinator Program. We were given to
believe that this initial dialogue will continue, both in our
offices and in Mr. Principi's. I look forward to more conversations with
The women veterans display in the Harbison Room of the national office
is taking shape. It includes historic items and photographs related to
women veterans and their work in VVA. It will remain a work in progress.
If you have anything you feel would be appropriate for this display,
please contact me through the national office.
The committee has been reviewing convention resolutions. We are working
in concert with other VVA committees on resolutions that involve
collaboration. No new resolutions have been forwarded to the committee at
The planning of the Women Veterans Breakfast at the National Convention
is under way. We also intend to have an informal get-together of women
veterans at the convention. Information on these two events will be
Lt. Sharon Lane of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps served in Vietnam with the
312th Evac Hospital in Chu Lai. She was killed during a mortar
attack on June 8, 1969. Sharon was a resident of Canton, Ohio, and is
among those women whose names are etched on The Wall. A clinic in
Chu Lai has been built in her honor. It will be dedicated in March.
VietAid, a humanitarian organization that has worked in Hue for many
years, is the sponsor of the clinic. The cost of the project is estimated
at $25,000. If you are interested in information about this project,
contact: Larson Ross, President, VietAid, P.O. Box 820, Arizona City, AZ
85223; 520-466-6644; email@example.com
I would like to thank those state councils that include me on the
mailing lists for their state newspapers. The papers have their own unique
flavors. I really enjoy reading them.
Chair: Marsha Four. Vice Chair: Sandy Miller. Members: Agnes Feak,
Ernie Dogwolf Lovato, Bob Maras, Judy McCombs, Linda Schwartz, Beverly
Stewart, and Sandie Wilson. Special Advisers: Cindy Falzone, Kay Gardner,
Martha Green, Donna Keffer, Charlotte Rebillard, Jacqueline Rector, Fara
Sanchez, and Mary Ellen White. Staff Coordinator: Tavashia Edwards.
Veterans Against Drugs Committee Semiannual Report
By Herb Worthington, Chair
Veterans Against Drugs is having growing pains. One year ago, this task
force was in three locations. Today, we are in Pennsylvania, California,
New Jersey, Texas, New York, and Vermont. We will be opening more
locations in many of these states. We hope to begin programs in Virginia,
West Virginia, Florida, and Oregon by the end of the year.
But we need your help.
As veterans, we have been called on to do many things in our lifetimes.
Some have been for country, some for family, and some have contributed to
our personal growth.
We are asking all VVA and AVVA members to take the initiative and step
forward again. Please help fight the drugs that are killing our children.
Get involved in your community. As Vietnam veterans, we have been called
dope heads and may other names. Now we have the opportunity to answer
those critics. This program also takes on another enemy of our youth:
violence. Violence goes hand in hand with the drugs.
It’s a good bet that everyone reading this column has a family member
or friend who has been harmed as a result of using drugs or by the
violence surrounding drug use. Drugs don’t care how old you are, what
you do for a living, how much of an education you have, or what color you
There is personal growth with this program. It does take time, but you
get back what you give out. Just ask the people who are working in Vets
Against Drugs programs.
A friend asked: "Who really makes a difference in a person’s
life?" He asked if I could name the five wealthiest people in the
world, the last five Heiseman Trophy winners, the last five winners of the
Miss America contest, ten people who have won the Nobel Prize, or six
Academy Award winners. I couldn’t get past more than a couple in most
categories. None of us remembers the headliners of yesterday, even though
they were tops in their fields.
Then he asked me to list some teachers who have helped me in school,
some other people who had taught me something worthwhile, and people who
had made me feel appreciated and special. This was easy: I went on and on.
"The people who make a difference in another person’s life are
not the ones with the most awards, the most money, or the most
credentials," he said. "They are the ones who care." He
said he wanted to thank the Veterans Against Drugs program because we are
making a difference because we care. Join us. Call me at 908-486-2087 or
Debra Williams at the national office. You will be glad you did.
Chair: Herb Worthington. Members: Gerald Corrento, Richard Bergling,
Jim Blair, Tom Corey, Calvin Gross, Chuck Hall, Herb Hankerson, Jerry
Klein, Douglass Perkins, and Carlton Rhodes. Special Adviser: Margaret
Wojciechowicz. Staff Coordinator: Deborah Williams.
Task Force on Homeless Veterans Semiannual Report
By Bob Piaro, Chair
The Task Force on Homeless Veterans has had several accomplishments
that have changed the conditions affecting homeless veterans.
Vietnam Veterans of America is the only congressionally chartered
veterans service organization that has a homeless task force or committee
with a budget and with members who are direct providers of
homeless-veterans programs around the country. These members work their
programs 365 days a year and are nationally recognized for their efforts.
VVA, by establishing the Task Force on Homeless Veterans, has insured that
homeless veterans will have a true advocate.
The VVA Task Force on Homeless Veterans has been working with VVA
Chapter 536, Kern County (California) Veterans Service Department, Vietnam
Veterans Assistance Fund, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to
develop a homeless veterans program in Kern County. On February 1, 2001,
the first home opened. It will house up to six veterans with supportive
services. Vietnam Veterans of America once again is leading the way in the
fight for homeless veterans by providing them with direct services.
The most comprehensive homeless veterans legislation was introduced in
the 106th Congress by Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.). The Heather
French Homeless Veterans Assistance Act of 2000 will be reintroduced this
year. Please try to get your legislators to support this bill. Like so
many issues that we advocate for on behalf of veterans, this is not a
The homeless veterans problem in America is a national disgrace. To
leave our wounded brother and sisters on the field is truly unacceptable.
This must be addressed. We cannot forget our veterans. Together, we can
make a difference in their lives.
Chair: Robert R. Piaro. Vice Chairs: Marsha Four and Paul Sutton.
Members: Ernie Dogwolf Lovato, John Margowski (CSCP liaison), Sandy
Miller, Rocky Snow. Special Advisers: Linda Boone, Lynda Greene, Charlotte
Rebillard, Jeanni Wells (AVVA liaison). Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
Veterans Initiative Task Force Semiannual Report
By Tom Corey
The Veterans Initiative Task Force meets quarterly during National
Board of Directors meetings. The VITF coordinates with the POW/MIA
Committee on the matter of which American POW/MIA cases to return to
Vietnam and Laos for further investigation or inquiries. VITF resolutions
were reviewed and changes were recommended. Letters of support for the
Veterans Initiative from Joint Task Force-Full Accounting (JTF-FA)
officials and other key personnel received over the years were distributed
to VITF and to the Board of Directors.
The VITF will produce a six-year review of the VI program. The review
will be distributed to the membership. We will have a table at the VVA
National Convention to provide information and display the work of the VI.
Task force members discussed those who continue to criticize the VITF. It
was the consensus of the group to continue the mission of the VI and to
allow the few who have constant complaints or who are not satisfied with
any answer that we provide to bring their concerns to the Convention. The
resolutions adopted by the delegates speak to the role of this task force,
and it should remain that way until the delegates see fit to make any
The budget was reviewed, and everyone agreed to not ask for an
increase. The time frame for the next VI delegation to Vietnam was
discussed. As in the past, the date will be selected when appropriate
individuals are available for meetings in Vietnam and Laos. Those meetings
will be with key individuals from JTF-FA, the Viet Nam Office of Seeking
Missing Persons (VNOSMP), and the Veterans Association of Vietnam (VAV).
As of this writing, the next delegation will likely travel in the late
April/early May time frame.
There was discussion about American veterans with knowledge of
Vietnamese burial sites who have volunteered to return to Vietnam to help
the Vietnamese locate their missing. VITF members have worked with these
veterans in hopes that Vietnamese witnesses will come forward with
information on missing Americans. The Veterans Initiative is a proven
approach for those who still believe that we have a responsibility to
unaccounted-for American service members.
Members: Charlie Brown, Tom Corey, George Claxton, Ken Deal, Jim Doyle,
Bob Maras, Dan Johnson, Bob Reiser, Jack Thomas, Jeff White, Alan Cook,
and Richard Delong. Special Advisers: Janet Alheit, Sarah Bernasconi, and
Bill Duker. Staff Coordinator: Mokie Porter.