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

March/April 2003
Photo:Michael Keating
Our Priorities

On March 20, I presented Vietnam Veterans of America's legislative priorities in VVA's annual testimony before the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. Joining me at the table were Avery Taylor, the chair of VVA's Government Affairs Committee; Bob Maras, chair of our Veterans Affairs Committee; and Rick Weidman, VVA's director of Government Relations.  

I again stressed that funding for VA health care is our top priority. Once again, I noted, that each year we must plead for what is right and what is fair for those who served this country honorably. I have grown weary asking every year for the same thing: more money, more money. When will the VA receive sufficient funding to fulfill the mission it is mandated to do--providing quality heath care in a timely manner to America's veterans?  

We recognize that there are dedicated people working at the VA Medical Centers, but they need help. They are understaffed, overworked, and continually asked to do more with less. We asked Congress to make health care spending for veterans an entitlement program, at a proper funding level, by enacting mandatory funding legislation for veterans health care in the 108th Congress. 

Ultimately there is one person who can decide what the VA receives to care for this country's veterans: the President. Veterans, family members, and our neighbors need to write him and your congressional representatives and tell them it is past time to adequately fund the Department of Veterans Affairs. We must constantly remind them that veterans need their support and we would hope they want our support. Hopefully, we won't have to report on this need anymore. 

On March 2, the California State Council and Redondo Beach Chapter 53 and other VVA and AVVA members hosted a great dinner and sendoff for 77 members of Sons and Daughters In Touch, who were about to embark on a journey of the unknown to Vietnam. They were going to walk in the footsteps of their fathers and visit the sites where their fathers were killed. It was an emotional experience that I will never forget, and I am grateful that SDIT asked me to join them in this amazing and meaningful chapter in their lives. Their dads, our buddies, are very proud of them, and they were with us each step of the way. In the next issue of The VVA Veteran, we will cover this historic journey.

VVA has been and will continue to be a principle voice in the issue of American POW/MIAs. This is a priority. We will continue our support for those serving today, for the wounded, and for a safe return of those captured. We will remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice and their families. Our prayers are with all of them, and we hope for a speedy end to this war in Iraq and the return of our service members.

May God bless us all.



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