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

January/February 2004




The Freetown, Massachusetts, Standard-Times named Richard Levesque Freetown Man of the Year. Nominations for the honor came from the community and members of the newsroom staff. Levesque, the Massachusetts State Council veterans' service officer, said he was floored by the honor that recognized his dedication and devotion to veterans and their needs. According to the article in the Standard-Times, Town Clerk Jackie Brown said, "We get calls all the time from veterans who have questions that need to be addressed, and Richard makes sure to have those questions and concerns answered. He freely gives out his home phone number and is always available to help the veterans. He's an energetic, hard-working man."


National Board member and Florida State Council President Dave McMichael presented the Council's President's Award to Phoenix Chapter 726 in Polk City, Florida, for its dedication to helping veterans and those in need. The award was accepted by chapter delegate Timothy Kauffman, who presented the award to the chapter at its December meeting.

Sumner County Chapter 240 in Gallatin, Tennessee, presented a special award to Polly Kitchens, a member of Woodmen of the World, for her 15-year support of veterans' activities. Kitchens has provided American flags and poles for special occasions and for the local Veterans Park.

The proper disposal of soiled or damaged American Flags is governed by U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, paragraph K: The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Bob Boisselle, community affairs officer for Chapter 32 in Queens, New York, enlisted the help of Boy Scout Troop 383 in Glendale, New York, to help dispose of 300 retired U.S. flags. The chapter used the facilities at Mt. Olivet Cemetery Crematory for the disposal but saved an enormous garrison flag that had hung above the Maspeth Federal Savings Bank in Maspeth, New York. The flag was presented to the troop during its annual summer camp. Three hundred scouts and their leaders held a special ceremony at their nightly campfire to dispose of the flag. At the conclusion, the crowd spontaneously began singing "America the Beautiful."


Chapter 767 in Racine, Wisconsin, took part in the Korean War Memorial services at the Southeastern Wisconsin Veterans' Cemetery in Union Grove. The chapter also is continuing its C.A.R.E. package program for troops stationed overseas. More than a ton of materials has been sent to the troops, and the chapter has collected several hundred pounds more for the next shipment.

San Jacinto Chapter 343 in Houston has joined the Adopt A Platoon project and has shipped comfort items to a platoon of the 101st Infantry Division in Iraq. In addition, the chapter donated nearly $3,000 to support the families of those deployed to the war zone.

The Chapter 310 Dispatch in Ann Arbor, Michigan, printed a series of thank-you letters from deployed troops who have received support from the chapter. Sgt. Kirstin Frederickson in Iraq wrote: "I know your support has made a difference in my deployment. I can just imagine the many soldiers and families that have been touched by you and the folks at VVA." Also from Iraq, Warrant Officer James Britton wrote: "We lost some good troops and friends this week, and the support we get from the outside really goes a long way to boost the morale of the men."

Pleasantville, New York, Chapter 49 held its annual Candlelight Vigil along the Trail of Honor in December and placed a Christmas tree at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial there. According to Chapter executive director Dan Griffin, "This is our Christmas for our brothers and sisters who did not come home."

First presented at the 2003 New York City Veterans Day Parade, a 30-minute "Thank You For Serving" video is being sent to our troops around the world by Manhattan Chapter 126.

Chapter 218 in Santa Barbara, California, participated in the Arlington West project in December. The event is part of the Parade of Lights festival and includes a lighted candle for each of the troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 24-foot wall with the names, ages, hometowns, and cause of death of the nearly 500 Americans in uniform who have died in the war on terrorism was also erected. On Sunday mornings, hundreds of wooden crosses, representing those who have died, are placed in the sand nears Stearns Wharf.

In the shadow of Mount Shasta, Chapter 357 in Redding, California, is proud of its effort to have the county rename a local bridge. Second vice president Norman Hargett reports that the county voted to designate the Clear Creek Bridge as Shasta County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge, complete with an appropriate sign featuring the Vietnam Service Ribbon.

Chapter 77 in Buffalo, New York, completed its 12th annual Operation Gift Lift. The more than 200 containers of comfort items, including soap, pens, pencils, shampoo, playing cards, hard candy, and other miscellaneous items for deployed troops also contained personal greeting cards from local schoolchildren.

Akron, Ohio, Chapter 900 has taken on the task of helping local National Guard and Army Reserve families who have had members called to active duty. To quote chapter member Bruce Hestley: "This is one way for an older generation of veterans to assist a younger generation."


The Native American Vietnam Veterans Recognition Project is scheduled for Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, in February. VVA Region 6 Director Steve House commissioned Native American artist Barry Coffin to sculpt a bust of a Native American veteran for the event. Coffin, an accomplished artist, is a two-tour Vietnam veteran.


Over the holidays, Merced, California, Chapter 691 donated four $50 food certificates to A Woman's Place Domestic Violence Shelter and three other families.

Chapter 862 in Freedom, Pennsylvania, collected and donated $584 to a local teenager battling cancer. Her father is a member of the chapter and has helped with many chapter projects, including the construction of the local POW/MIA monument.


Laura Oleksyn is completing her masters degree program at Nazareth College in Inclusive Early Childhood Education as a result of a four-year undergraduate scholarship provided by Rochester, New York, Chapter 20. She has maintained a 4.0 grade average and will be inducted into the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society for Teachers.

If your chapter or state council awards scholarships, send the total dollar amount and total number of recipients to


Liberty Bell Chapter 266 in Philadelphia hosted a Movie Night at the Philadelphia VAMC. Twenty-one patients enjoyed the movie and refreshments provided by chapter volunteers Robert Dott, Len Johnson, Tom Finnerty, Gerald Nye, Mark Lumpkin, and Ron Powell. They were joined by Al Mikutis, James Chappelle, and his friend, Angela, Herb Benson and his son and daughter, Dhafir and Dhaima, and Jerry McManus.

Robert E. Wheelock Chapter 327 in Stanhope, New Jersey, members Ralph Villano, Mike Rahill, and his wife visited the Lyons VAMC PTSD ward and donated gift bags to the residents.

New Hampton, New York, Chapter 140 Chaplain Rev. Ross Licata reports the chapter hosted a party for the patients at Castle Point VAMC in Beacon, New York. Licata thanked Bob Stumph, Debbi and Peter Cassela, Russell Boyce, Sr., Maryann Birchenough, and Jim Swiecata for putting together and distributing the gifts to a total of 30 veterans, including 23 from the Spinal Cord Injury ward.

Nearly $2,000 worth of personal care and other items were distributed to 300 residents of the State Veterans Home in Bristol by Wakefield, Rhode Island, Chapter 325. This is the second year the chapter has made the trip to the home. Member Geoff Colt says preparations for next year are already underway.


Freedom, Pennsylvania, Chapter 862 answered the call to help raise funds for a Korean War Memorial in Beaver County. President Skip Haswell committed the chapter to raising $70,000 for the memorial and formed a committee of Bill Muns, John and Sherry Namath, and the late Chuck Nowry. The team called Beaver County Times reporter Marsha Keefer and asked if the paper would help with the project. After raising $121,000, the memorial was completed, landscaped, and dedicated.

The New Jersey State Council dedicated a polished black granite monument in the Gen. John B. Doyle Veterans Cemetery in Arneytown, New Jersey. The monument, designed by chapter member Ann Marie Manna, includes a full-color VVA logo, our national motto, "In Service To America," and our Founding Principle, "Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another." The reverse side displays the POW/MIA emblem.

Members of Chapter 303 in Columbia, South Carolina, have pledged $100 to help fund a memorial honoring veterans at Brooklyn-Cayce High School. If you want to make a donation, contact chapter President Frank Weick at


National Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee chair Paul Sutton was featured in a news article about an Agent Orange conference held at the Roseberg, Oregon VAMC. Sutton described the extent of Agent Orange use and the countless diseases and ailments that plague Vietnam veterans and their children as a result of exposure to the dioxin-laden defoliant. Sutton told the group that in 1990 the VA recognized that two diseases were related to Agent Orange exposure and that today the list has grown to 43. The event was hosted by Winston, Oregon, Chapter 805.

Oregon State Council president Judi Greig was recently profiled in the Eugene Register-Gazette. Greig says she gained her strong devotion to veterans while in the Army. "It teaches you teamwork. It's something that will last a lifetime," she said.

The Washington Post ran an article in December about a homeless veteran who made the acquaintance of Nathaniel "Gnat" Slayton Jr., a VVA benefits case worker. The article reports how the veteran had faced a lifetime of challenges, including a brief time as a cadet at West Point in 1971, his enlistment in the Air Force, going AWOL, a psychiatric evaluation that led to his discharge, and two suicide attempts. Slayton is now processing the veterans case, and has helped him regain some power over his own life.


Will Schwartz, president of Chapter 650 in Catonsville, Maryland, reports that the chapter held its annual fund-raiser at the Fells Point Festival in Baltimore. Each year Jimmy's Restaurant donates the sidewalk in front of his establishment for the chapter to set up its booth. This year the chapter presented the owner with a plaque recognizing his support of the chapter.

More than 100 vehicles participated in the Fourth Annual Veterans Day Open Car Show held in conjunction with the South Texas Veterans Health Care System and sponsored by Chapter 863 in Kerrville.


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