The Official Voice of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

September/October 2002 POLICY FOR LETTERS


We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

Hasn't the debate between in-country vets, in-theater vets, and era vets like myself gone on long enough? The fact is that most of those who served during the Vietnam War era did not serve in the Southeast Asian theater. In-country vets fail to recognize the threat posed during that time by the Soviet Union in other parts of the world. Would they have had all military forces serve in Southeast Asia, leaving the rest of Asia and Europe exposed to Soviet attack? I don't think so.

It's time for this sterile, unproductive debate to come to its long-overdue end. In just three years, we will mark the 30th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War. In Vietnam, 70 percent of the population has been born since then. What's the same number for the USA?

Ray Graglia
Via e-mail


Prior to SHAD popping up on our radar, I was helping some of our chapter members with asbestos and Agent Orange claims. Unless a sailor was leaning over the chart table underway, there is very little likelihood that he knew where he was. So I wrote a letter to the U.S. Naval Academy magazine Proceedings and received a response from Ann Hassinger of the History Department. She provided a list of web sites to whittle down the real ships' history.

At the website, you can download the file, OPNAVINST 5750.12G. This explains how a ship submits events and in what form. Having this information might help veterans gain access to useful knowledge for a VA claim. Happy hunting.

John R. Hill
Coos Bay, Oregon


I have been reading with great interest the Letters to the Editor concerning Vietnam in-country versus era veterans. I am a Vietnam-era vet, Air Force 66-70, serving in the Middle East, Europe, and CONUS. I cannot remember the number of times I volunteered for Vietnam. I served proudly where and when the Air Force deemed it necessary. I do regret, with something like survivor's guilt, not serving in Vietnam, but there was nothing I could do about it.

Vietnam-era vets, whether in-country or not, should not let others belittle their service or, worse yet, belittle it themselves. We could have run, like so many of our generation did, but we chose to serve our country, and we served proudly wherever we were sent.

VVA is only as strong as its membership. If a chapter allows non in-country vets to be belittled and shunned, it will be the weaker for it and will eventually lose members - and the respect of local vets and the community at large. All Vietnam-era vets should always remember that we are a Band of Brothers and therein lies our strength. Welcome Home.

Carlton N. Yancey
Acworth, Georgia


This refers to the letter, "Ask a Grunt,'' from Jim Doran in the June/July issue. I am a U.S. Air Force/SOG Vietnam veteran, 1963-64. At that time there were only 16,000 "advisers'' in Vietnam and we could only serve under a U.S. passport.

Only the Department of the Navy issues a combat action ribbon (CAR) to Navy and Marine Corps personnel. Airmen serving in Vietnam prior to June 1965 could only receive the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon and the Armed Forces Expeditionary Service Ribbon. If the Air Force issued a CAR to an Air Force ground crewman, he had to have prior service in the Navy or Marine Corps. If a CAR was issued to anyone in those days, he deserved it and should be very proud to have it on his DD-214.

William L. Mitchell
Brooklyn, New York


Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but how you can label Daniel Ellsberg [June/July issue] an antidisestablishmentarian is beyond me. I think he is just the opposite. He is obviously anti-establishment from the point of view of being  antiwar and anti-Johnson and Nixon.

I read most of the Pentagon Papers, and I fail to recall any conclusive evidence that the Vietnam War was "unwinnable'' by Korean War standards. Both were limited wars and this is no reason why South Vietnam could not have been saved with a minimum of U.S. military encouragement in 1975.

Unfortunately, world political events intervened to prevent a normal response by the U.S. government. But President Ford could have utilized other options. After all, he was obligated to enforce the January 1973 Peace Treaty to the maximum extent possible. No one could have foreseen when the Pentagon Papers were written that Laos and Cambodia would fall like they did.

Ellsberg is not the establishment as I knew it - nor as my fellow soldiers knew it. He is some kind of hippie snitch airing stolen dirty laundry in public.

R.E. Bennett
Lima, Ohio



In regard to the President's Message in the June/July issue, I agree wholeheartedly. I am delighted to know our Veterans Vote! campaign is up and running. Here in Nevada it appears the veterans community is condescended to. Many other important issues of great national and international importance need addressing - or so they say.

Since I don't have a good answer, I have a tongue-in-cheek great idea. Let's suspend the Congress of the United States of America for the duration of the War on Terrorism. Better yet, why not do away with Congress permanently? Think of the millions of hard-earned tax dollars saved in bloated congressional salaries not paid, free medical and other perks, millions in congressional retirement in current and future payments not spent, and costly congressional fact-finding vacation trips not taken.

Maybe the money would be found and allocated for veterans. Maybe veterans would form up and become a third party or even throw the scoundrels out. Maybe we would get a Congress that wouldn't whimper and cave in when an order comes from the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

Veterans need to vote, but not for just whoever is running.

Glenn M. Browne
Las Vegas


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