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

Photo:Michael Keating
A Quarter Century Of Activism

We are grateful that large-scale combat operations in Iraq have ended, but we watch with concern the ongoing fighting as we continue to keep our men and women in uniform in our thoughts and prayers. As we go to press, we await news of Sgt. 1st Class Gadimir Phillipe of Linden, New Jersey, ans Pfc. Kevin C. Ott of Columbus, Ohio, reported missing in Iraq. We pray for their freedom and safe return home. VVA will always keep its pledge to achieve the fullest possible accounting for our POW/MIAs, regardless of when and where they are lost. 

As we approach our 11th National Convention, I want to reflect briefly on the past two years and on the difficult challenges faced by VVA and our nation, and our willingness to face those challenges. 

Our nation faced the tragedy of September 11, 2001, with strength and service. VVA members from across the country proved once again that our national motto, "In Service To America,'' is a meaningful call to action. VVA members worked at or near Ground Zero in New York, pulled the injured from the flames in the Pentagon, donated blood, raised money for victim relief, and answered the call to active service in defense of our nation. 

Thanks to each of you who have supported VVA in moving forward with our mission to take care of the needs of those who served. We have made significant progress on many issues, reinforcing our Founding Principle, "Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.''  

VVA's National Board of Directors, Conference of State Council Presidents, committees, task forces, and the national staff have conducted the affairs of the organization with spirit and cooperation. You should be proud of their advocacy on your behalf. 

The state councils and local chapters across the country have been busy advocating for veterans issues, carrying out many innovative and outstanding programs that help veterans, their families, and others in their communities. 

In March 2002, I was privileged to lead the VVA delegation to the joint U.S.-Vietnam Conference on Human Health and Environmental Effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin in Hanoi. Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee Chair Paul Sutton and Veterans Healthcare Committee Chair Linda Schwartz were presenters at the conference and served our interests well. 

In association with the Yale School of Nursing, VVA co-sponsored the historic gathering of American and Vietnamese scientists and others at the Yale Vietnam Conference in September 2002 in New Haven, Connecticut.   

Our groundbreaking efforts on behalf of hundreds veterans who were exposed to hazardous chemical and biological agents in Project SHAD (Shipboard Hazard and Defense) and Project 112 have forced the government to acknowledge its complicity in this previously secret project.   

Our 9th National Leadership Conference in Tucson in 2002 was a tremendous success. It was attended by many of our friends and supporters, including correspondent and author Joe Galloway and Rep. Lane Evans (D-Ill.). 

Despite rain and tornado warnings, thousands of VVA members, their families, and other veterans from across the country joined us in VVA's March To Remember commemorating the 20th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington in November.  

In March, we presented our annual testimony before the House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees, again making a strong case for additional funding for quality veterans health care in a timely manner. Our advocacy efforts continue on many issues vital to Vietnam veterans and others who served and their families, including the Jobs for Veterans Act, the Homeless Veterans Comprehensive Assistance Act, and the Veterans Education and Benefits Expansion Act. 

As we look forward to our convention and our 25th  anniversary in St. Louis, we recognize that our work is not complete, and that it requires the combined efforts of each of us to fulfill our mission and insure that in these times of less than perfect Department of Veterans Affairs budget and service delivery choices, we commit ourselves to make sure that veterans are not left behind.

Best wishes to each of you. I look forward to meeting and speaking with those who are able to join us in St. Louis. 

Peace and God Bless America


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