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

photo by Michael Keating
December 2001/January 2002

President’s Message

Best Wishes and Best Efforts

By Thomas Corey

Let me wish each of you and your families a wonderful holiday season. We offer our best wishes to the men and women serving our country today and their families. Many will be unable to share the holidays with their families as they face the reality of a holiday in a hostile environment.

VVA’s Founding Principle compels us not to forget them. We need to recognize their service today and to fight on their behalf tomorrow for the service they render to our nation. We pray for their safe return home.

As we approach the holiday season, many of us count our blessings and put them into the context of our own belief systems. We are here and we are alive. We can be thankful our names are not on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Nor have they been memorialized in Father Phil’s ``Taps’’ column in <I>The VVA Veteran<$>.

I have learned to thank my God for allowing me to survive each day, no matter how terrible it may have been. I have lived each day of my life, knowing it is better than the alternative. Many Vietnam veterans and other family members have passed away. Can we stop the dying? Yes, to some extent. We can get regular check-ups and pay attention to the warning signals our bodies send and the messages we receive from others.

I again must address the VA system when discussing our health. We hear both praise and condemnation of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ health-care system. Many of us continue to use the system; others choose not to. For some of us it is our best and only option. One of our missions as a veterans service organization is to insure that veterans using the system are treated properly, with a level of quality care that includes compassion for all veterans and their situations. This system was created for veterans. It is up to us to make certain that it never retreats from its commitment, ``To Care For Him Who Has Borne the Battle, And His Widow And Orphan.’’

We have seen the VA go through many changes of policy, practice, and leadership. Since Anthony Principi became Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, he has tried to meet the problems and obstacles head on.

He meets regularly with VSOs--including VVA--and listens carefully to our concerns. His recent move to keep open the enrollment of veterans into the VA health-care system is discussed in the Government Relations Report in this issue, as are several other of his recent initiatives to improve and expand the services provided by the VA and his recognition of veterans with ALS.

Also in this issue you will see a report on Shipboard Hazards and Defense (SHAD). We have been working with DoD and the VA to address this veterans health issue. We will continue to be active until all of the veterans involved in the project have been notified.

Secretary Principi understands that the VA needs the input of the consumer--you and me. We will continue to remind all of the VA leadership that the system is for America’s veterans. It is important and necessary to include the views and opinions of VSOs when making decisions about our future in the system.

In order for the Secretary to fulfill his mission, he must receive an adequate budget. Nothing else will work. We support his recommendations. We are at war to protect and defend our country. We do not need another war at home. Every year the VSOs spend an enormous amount of time testifying about the funding needs of our health-care system only to see it again inadequately funded.

Does this country recognize its veterans’ service? Not if the dollars appropriated by OMB, the President, and Congress are any indication. We look forward to seeing the budget the President submits. We hope we are remembered.

God bless you and your families, and God bless the citizens of the world. Peace.


E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org

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