BY A VVA STAFF REPORT
Tupelo, Mississippi, Chapter 842 is working to rename the
section of Interstate 59 between Laurel and Hattiesburg,
Mississippi, in honor of Lance Corporal Roy M. Wheat, the only
Vietnam Medal of Honor recipient from Mississippi. The chapter is
collaborating with the Wheat family and local, state, and federal
legislators. For additional information, call 662-862-9858 or
write to VVA Chapter 842, P.O. Box 686, Verona, MS 38879.
Laurel Heights Chapter 364 in Johnstown, Pennsylvania,
formed the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's first support group 12
years ago during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The chapter
reactivated the project in 1995 to support the troops in Bosnia
and their families. The program is now in its third incarnation
providing much-needed support to American troops scattered across
the globe in the war on terrorism, and their families. The support
effort includes representatives from the Red Cross, local clergy,
and other local organizations. Also participating are
representatives from the office of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa). In
1966, Murtha volunteered to go to Vietnam where he was wounded
twice and received the Bronze Star for valor. He is the ranking
Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.
Porter County Chapter 905 in Portage, Indiana,
reminds us that nearly 220,000 Reserve and National Guard troops
have been activated in the war on terrorism since September 11,
2001. The number includes more than 150,000 Army Guard and
Reserves, 9,500 Naval Reserves, over 33,000 Air Guard and
Reserves, some 20,000 plus Marine Corps Reserves, and nearly 3,800
Coast Guard Reserves. The chapter is participating in Operation
Dear Abby, an electronic letter-writing campaign for the armed
www.OperationDearAbby.net; the Virtual Thank-You Card project
run by the Department of Defense at
www.defendamerica.mil/nman.html; and messages of support to
the troops via a message board at
in El Paso, Texas, stood proudly at the homecoming of the
recently returned Iraq War POWs when they arrived at Fort Bliss.
As the soldiers disembarked from the aircraft, the chapter and VVA
flag were prominently displayed on several national newscasts.
In Janesville, Wisconsin members of Chapter 236
participated in weekly ``Support The Troops'' rallies at the local
South Jersey Chapter 825 in Mays Landing took part
in the ``Support Our Troops'' rally held at the Egg Harbor
Township High School in March. The chapter uses e-mail to notify
members of the events.
Christina Longenecker and Steve Everett of Chapter 604 in
Topeka, Kansas, organized a ``Support Our Troops'' rally on
the steps of the state capitol in Topeka. The event featured
speakers, live and recorded music, and emphasized that the rally's
purpose was to demonstrate to our men and women in uniform that
their service and sacrifice is appreciated. If you would like to
join the project, contact Christina at
Chapter 601 in Bennington, Vermont held a
candlelight ``Support Our Troops'' vigil at the Vermont Veterans
Home in April. Participants included family members of those who
Chapter 502 in Anniston, Alabama organized a ``Rally
For The Troops'' on the city main street. Hundreds took part in
the event, a prelude to a Welcome Home celebration for local
servicemen and women.
Chapter 787 in Tampa, Florida, has been collecting
goods to send to the troops in Iraq. What began as a project to
collect reading material quickly grew into something that now
involves the solicitation of local Wal-Mart and Payless customers
to purchase comfort items needed by America's sons and daughters
in uniform. Under the leadership of Jim ``Rambo'' Legarde, chapter
members and local volunteers--some of whom have husbands
deployed--gathered at the local YMCA on April 15 to prepare the
packages for mailing.
Chapter 323 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, organized a
family support group for those who have friends or family serving.
The group meets twice a month at the Fayetteville VA hospital
under the guidance of Arkansas State Council Chaplain Dan
Bannan. It also includes members of Chapter 838 in
Siloam Springs. Other veterans organizations have joined the
project. The VVA chapters joined together with radio station 98.3
Rooster Country in Operation Appreciation to collect pre-paid
phone cards for the troops. On March 23, the late Arkansas State
Council President Mike Burden of Chapter 323 and James Dickey of
Chapter 838 spent six hours in front of the Siloam Springs
Wal-Mart and collected over 4,000 minutes to bring the project
total to nearly 10,000 minutes.
Chapter 53 in Redondo Beach, California, joined with
the Redondo Beach Chamber of Commerce to sponsor a dinner for the
families of the 104 activated reservists from the Los Angeles
Country Sheriff's Department. One hundred people attended the
dinner, which featured Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca, seven of his
deputy chiefs, and former L.A. Dodger Maury Wills.
In his farewell message to members of Chapter 223 in
Santa Rosa, California, Ken Holybee said that the best way to
support our troops is to advocate for adequate funding for the VA
so that when the troops return home they will have access to
services, treatment, and benefits. He reminded everyone that the
VA budget is not acceptable, and the battle for funding continues.
Oregon State Council President Judi Gregg served as emcee
at a ``Support The Troops'' rally at Alton Baker Park in Eugene on
The Maryland State Council presented a POW/MIA Flag to Gov.
Robert L. Erlich, Jr., at a ``Support The Troops'' rally on the
steps of the state General Assembly building in Annapolis April
14. Joining State Council President Bruce Whitaker for the
presentation were former Vietnam POW Jack Fellows and National
League of Families representative Susie Ragan.
Northern Virginia Chapter 227 encourages everyone to
remember the men and women in uniform by contacting our websites
that provide care, comfort, and service to our military personnel.
Included in the list is the Fisher Foundation, a group that
provides housing for families of the wounded. Contact them at
You can purchase food certificates for active-duty military
www.commissaries.com and donate telephone calling cards at
For specific service relief information, go to
www.afas.org (Air Force), and
www.cgmahq.org (Coast Guard).
Questions about donating rules can be obtained at
of Chapter 831 in Cocoa, Florida, reports the
chapter collected four truckloads of goods for the troops.
Operation Care is focused on the 920th Rescue Wing based Patrick
Air Force Base in Florida that was scheduled to return from
deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom on April 25. The local
Wal-Mart store donated $500 to help cover expenses of the party.
Members Bill Chapman, Dave Booth, Don Flammio, Hank Bornemann, Ed
Moeller, Dave Schozbager, and Al Diaz were joined by AVVA members
Susan Chapman and Tracy Moeller in the project.
Ohio Chapter 857 in New Philadelphia and Chapter
532 in Newcomerstown combined to provide assistance to
military dependents while their family members are away on active
duty. On April 27 at the Tuscarawas County Fairgrounds, the
chapters sponsored a ``Support The Troops Rally'' where chapter
members volunteered to perform services such as yard care,
babysitting, and running household errands. If you are interested
in helping out, contact
email@example.com or call Virgil Quillen at 740-498-6656
or Dale Foster at 740-622-1936.
Tri-State Chapter 172 in Cumberland, Maryland is
collecting items to send to troops around the world and is
distributing Blue Star decals to local families with children in
Steve Hersey is too young to have served in Vietnam, but he has
three uncles who did. That is what motivated him to create Books
For America. The non-profit group is collecting books for the
children of men and women in uniform who are serving overseas. If
you would like to help, contact Books For America at
or write Books For America, 2800 Quebec St., NW, Suite 744,
Washington, DC 20008, 202-364-9737.
National Board Member and Women Veterans Committee Chair Marsha
Four has been selected as one of this year's ``Unsung Heroes'' by
the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans. Four is the Director
of Homeless Veterans Services for the Philadelphia Multi-Service
and Education Center. The 50-bed transitional housing facility is
located at the Coatesville VA Medical Center. Since 1997, the
center has provided housing and other services to more than 2,000
Ray Dolgos, president of Chapter 242 in Chicago, has
been appointed Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs for
the state of Illinois by Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich.
Linda Schwartz, chair of VVA's National Health Care Task Force,
has been nominated by Gov. John Rowland to be the Connecticut
Commissioner of Veterans Affairs. The appointment is in
recognition of Linda's years of advocacy for veterans and her
expertise in the special health care needs of veterans. Her
nomination must be confirmed by the Connecticut General Assembly.
Indiana State Sen. Allen E. Paul and Gov. Frank O'Bannon named
Butch Mullen, a member of Richmond, Indiana, Chapter 777,
``Distinguished Hoosier'' for his service to veterans and their
families. Mullen served with the 5th/7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry
Sen. James Jeffords (I-Vt.) introduced a resolution in the Senate
recognizing the 25th anniversary year of Vietnam Veterans of
America. In part,
the Resolution reads: "Whereas, Vietnam Veterans of America
promotes its principles through volunteerism, professional
advocacy, and claims work; and Whereas the future of the Vietnam
Veterans of America relies not only on its past accomplishments,
but on future accomplishments of its membership that will ensure
the Vietnam Veterans of America remains a leader among veterans
Chapter 767 in Racine/Kenosha, Wisconsin, held its
11th Annual ``Thoughts For Food'' event in March. This year's
event was held in ten venues and featured 56 musical groups who
donated their time and talent for the fundraiser that raised
$29,000 for the Racine County Food Bank.
Big Sky Chapter 334 in Billings, Montana, awarded a
$1,000 scholarship to Ryanne Teesdale of Bridger. She is the
daughter of Roger and Dorothy Teesdale and will attend Montana
State University-Billings to study elementary education.
Retired Chief Torpedoman Ted Burke (WWII) sent a letter of thanks
to Vietnam veterans who sponsored a Christmas visit with gifts to
patients in the Washington, D.C., VA Hospital in December. Echoing
VVA's Founding Principle, Burke closed his letter with the
following statement: ``One of the thoughts of hope for us at this
time with the threat of war again--is to remember those who may
serve again, and pray our loss will be minimized.''
ODDS 'N' ENDS
The Forming Chapter in Fresno, California, donated a
new American flag to the hotel that hosted a recent California
State Council meeting. Chapter members noticed the flag in
front of the hotel was in an unacceptable condition. The hotel
also now flies a POW/MIA Flag when the state council is in