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

January/February 2004

Make A Difference


As Vietnam veterans, you try to get involved in your communities and do the right thing. You stand up for issues such as veterans' rights and health care. You take pride in what you do and the community in which you live.

To all of you who have started VAD programs, the VAD National Task Force and I want to thank you and urge you to keep up the good work. We also want to take it a step further. Let all members know what you are doing, no matter how big or how small. Remember, you are making the effort to keep kids off drugs and away from violence. We would like to feature you and your VAD program in this column. E-mail me or send photos and a short description of your program and how you got started. Let our brothers and sisters out there know how to do it. The VAD programs are as diverse as our membership and as complete as their sincerity. We are growing, and this is our time to prove we can and will make a difference in our society.

In your communities there are people who want to help but don't know where to turn. Help them out. Your help is needed, whether by a mother who lost a child to a gang-related crime or by the eight-year-olds who need to know why they should stay away from drugs.

We are planning a display at the Nashville Leadership Conference and hope to hear more success stories from chapters.

I want to apologize to our incarcerated veterans who wanted more information on the VAD program. I was under the impression that they wanted to get something started like the Scared Straight Program that was successful in New Jersey. Much to my surprise and delight, I found they want to use the program guides in a multiple-step program similar to Alcoholics Anonymous. The lessons in the advanced guide are based on VVA's core values, which are similar to the core values of the U.S. Army. This was pointed out to me by retired SMaj. B. Guerrero, who now heads up the program in San Antonio. We would be delighted to have the VAD program help out incarcerated veterans across the country. Contact me through the VVA national office, and I will forward the guide or lesson plan to you.

For those of you who are looking for a community-based project that can make a difference, this is the one. If you think that you live in the suburbs or an influential neighborhood and not in the city and therefore are immune to the problems associated with drugs and violence, you are fooling yourself. Drugs and gangs are everywhere.

Do we think we can save every child from the craziness of getting hurt or hooked on drugs? No. But we must take the war on drugs and violence as seriously as any military encounter. We approach it with a one-day-at-a-time and one child-at-a-time attitude. Eventually, little by little, things will get better. By joining forces with other community groups and forging ahead, you and your group can make a difference in your neighborhood. Remember: Your neighborhood did not change overnight, and it will not change for the good that fast either. Make a resolution in 2004 to join the fight against drugs and violence. You will be glad you did.


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