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

February 2002/March 2002

VVA Department Profile:



A VVA VETERAN Staff Report

Ever wonder how many people it takes to keep track of VVA and AVVA's 50,000-plus members on a day-to-day basis? Would you believe a staff of just four people at National Headquarters?
     That's right, the gargantuan task of managing the records of all of VVA and AVVA's members--which includes helping start new chapters, keeping track of tens of thousands of annual renewals, and supporting chapter and state council recruiting efforts--is handled smoothly and efficiently in VVA's Silver Spring, Maryland, office by just four full-time staffers: Al Green, Membership Director; Ernestine Horton, Membership Assistant; and Data Base Assistants Priscilla Wiley and Jerry Seigel.
     "Our busiest time of the year is the October-to-February period. That's our renewal period," said Green, who came to VVA to head up the Membership Department in November 1998 after retiring from a 23-year career with the U.S. Air Force. "We send out more than a thousand cards a week to remind members that yearly membership is coming up for renewal. That alone keeps Priscilla and Jerry extremely busy."
     Ernestine Horton, a long-time Membership Department staffer, handles a wide range of other tasks. That includes doing the work for all life membership processing and sending out and processing chapter start-up kits and VVA recruiting packages. The department helps with the creation of new chapters by sending out the materials for fledgling groups and then processing the members into the VVA system once the new chapters have been approved by their state council presidents. The requirement is that a new chapter has at least 25 Vietnam or Vietnam-era veterans sign up to create the chapter.
     "Once that is accomplished," Al Green said, "Ernestine sends off information to have the chapters legally incorporated and welcomed to VVA."

Priscilla Wiley  

Jerry Seigel


Ernestine Horton

The Membership Department, which works under the direction of the National Membership Committee, chaired by Bill Meeks, also supports chapter and state council recruiting efforts. The department supplies chapter and state councils a wide array of recruiting materials, including brochures, displays, and the paperwork needed to mount recruiting drives.
     "We put the emphasis on the grass roots in our recruiting," Green said. "It can't be done from National Headquarters. What's needed is hands-on, one-to-one efforts by our members in local towns and cities. They are the ones who have to go out there and talk to prospective members face to face, to shake hands with them and look them in the eyes. That's the best way we recruit members. We supply the chapters with the materials, but they have to go out there and do the grass-roots work."

Aside from recruiting, retaining members is the department's other priority. "One of our biggest jobs is retaining members," Green said. "We have growth every year; the chapters are good about signing up new men and women. But we also lose members every year. There are deaths; there are people who move and don't notify us. Sometimes we just lose touch with them."
     The department's biggest improvement in recent years has been the implementation of a new, in-house database, the ACCESS program. "It used to be that all the data processing was done by outside companies, and you can imagine how time-consuming and inefficient that was," Green said. "Now we do it all in house, and it has saved time and money and made all of our efforts much more efficient. My job really has become VVA's database manager and that's a good thing."

Publisher's Note: We regret to report that Allen Green has resigned as VVA's Membership Director.  We are grateful for his valuable service and wish him well in his new employment.


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