Vietnam Veterans of America
SEMIANNUAL COMMITTEE REPORTS
Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee
BY PAUL SUTTON, CHAIR
Over the past year, this committee has been active in several areas. First, we
membership to participate in a renal cancer data-gathering exercise. If you are,
or know, a
Vietnam veteran with renal (kidney) cancer, please contact Lewis Totten, P.O.
Box 831, Belle,
WV 25015. He is compiling information on veterans diagnosed with renal cancer in
an effort to
seek legislation that would add renal cancer to the list of presumptive
The Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee's 15 Resolutions, proposed at the 11th
Convention, were unanimously approved without debate. This was gratifying to the
which spent countless hours devising policies that would represent VVA's
positions on the
myriad of healthcare issues facing us and our children.
The committee continues VVA’s affiliation with the National Alliance of
Service Agencies. There is a great interest on their part in maintaining
VVA and NAVASA to continue to provide assistance to the people they represent
information about Agent Orange and the other chemicals used during the war. In
2003, I was invited to become a non-voting member of the NAVASA national board
In its November report, the committee proposed a motion, which the Board
unanimously, that requested VVA go on record as opposed to a continuation of
funding for the
Air Force Ranch Hand Study's flawed research. The 2004 Legislative Agenda notes
organizational opposition, and we hope that every VVA member understands and
reasons for the opposition.
The committee submitted its final report to VVAF concerning its $10,000 grant
for an analysis of
the birth defect data, the "USAF Ranch Hand Study Birth Defects Data
The study reviewed birth defects data in the Ranch Hand Study. None of this data
released by the Air Force, and references to the data often obscured and
outcomes. In October 2001, the committee contracted Yale University School of
perform the analysis.
We found some striking data hidden within the studies conducted by the Air
should have been available to Vietnam veterans at the time of the class-action
suit. Even though
we may be precluded from additional litigation against the chemical companies
and the U.S.
government, we will be able to tell our membershipand all Vietnam
veterans"we were right;
what we suspected was there is there, and this is what we now know."
While this will not resolve the issues confronting those of us who have spent
years and many
thousands of dollars studying the childhood illnesses and disabilities that we
and our children
face, we can take comfort in the fact that we canat lastexpose the truth.
Our study validates
many of our beliefs about birth defects and Agent Orange exposure 20 years ago.
and George Knafl, the primary investigators, deserve our deepest gratitude for
The committee's work with the American Friends Service Committee on the
identification of dioxin hot spots in Vietnam continues. The VVA Veteran continues
publishing the Agent
Orange Initiative notice, which seeks information from our members and others
willing to share
what they know about herbicides left in Vietnam. As of August 31, 76 responses
received and shared with the committee and the Vietnamese scientific community.
available to any member who requests them. The research in Vietnam, agreed to by
governments in March 2002, has not progressed because of new demands and
obstacles raised by
the government of Vietnam.
The committee also has been deeply involved in following a process called the
Reconstruction Contractor Committee on the Assessment of Wartime Exposure to
Vietnam. Jeanne and Steven Stellman of Columbia University oversaw this
five-year effort that
was recently concluded. The Stellmans developed an exposure model that will help
design an epidemiological study to look at the diseases and disabilities
suffered by Vietnam
veterans as a result of their exposure to a variety of chemicals during their
service in Vietnam.
They developed software that enables researchers to enter and assess data more
rapidly and can
compare a defoliated (sprayed) area with U.S. troop movements through and around
One of the interesting pieces of information involves the discovery of a
previously unaccounted-for 2.4 million gallons of various herbicides, which
raises the total chemicals used in Vietnam to
approximately 19.4 million gallons. It also has come to light that far more
Agent Purple was used
than previously thought. Agent Purple contains 50 times more TCDD than Agent
The Stellman model has two parts. One is the proximity to spray or "hit,"
which calculates how
close a location (or person) was to spraying. Another part of the same
calculation takes into
account all spraying that had ever taken place in an area and calculates a
scorewhich is rarely
zeroin any area that was sprayed.
The third and essential part of the model is the series of questions that we
have developed and
tested in which veterans are asked questions about other ways in which they may
exposed to spray.
Every study we have carried out has included these questions. They are part of
the final report
and the model we have developed. No epidemiological study can be done without an
and acceptable model for exposure. Every model can be distorted by people who
misrepresent and misuse it.
"It is my belief," Jeanne Stellman said last July, "that epidemiology studies
are going to find
that some truly horrific things have happened to Vietnam vets. Veterans groups
will have to see
to it that those who wish to cut benefits don't misuse the models and also that
they put up the
resources and set the priorities so that scientists across the country can at
last begin to work on
The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a split decision in early June in Agent
Orange Case No.
02-271. The ruling permits Vietnam veterans to move ahead with individual or
against the chemical companies. We don't expect any new developments until this
One of the more worrisome subjects the committee has been dealing with for the
past ten years is
the matter of dioxin reassessment. Proposed rules, defining dioxin as a
carcinogen, have been
languishing at EPA since the early days of the Clinton administration. When we
thought the rule
was about to be made final, yet another hurdle was placed in our path. We
continue to lobby the
EPA and the White House for release of the report.
We want to share the effective dates of benefits resulting from
the Nehmer v.
States decision handed down in August 2003. The Nehmer decision applies
Orange Presumptive Diseases only and only to service in Vietnam after August 4,
COMPENSATION: If VA denied or had pending a presumptive claim between September
1985, and May 3, 1989, the effective date will be the date of that claim or
onset of disability,
whichever is later. For claims received after May 3, 1989, but before
presumptive condition, the effective date will be the date of the claim or the
onset of disability,
whichever is later. This includes informal claims.
ACCRUED BENEFITS: No two-year limitation. The entire amount will be paid.
do not die with the death of the veteran.
The National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine released its latest
biennial report on the health effects of herbicide exposure, Veterans and
Agent Orange: Update 2002, on
January 23, 2003. Based on this report, VA secretary Principi determined that a
association exists between exposure to herbicides and the subsequent development
lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). A regulation has been prepared by VA adding CLL as a
presumptive disease associated with exposure to herbicides. Service officers are
advised to file
appropriate claims. Claims for service connection for leukemias other than CLL
adjudicated under existing regulations. An updated listing of all
associated with exposure to herbicides can be obtained by e-mailing me at
Vietnam veterans and their families must realize that Agent Orange by itself did
not cause all of
our health problems. Instead, what we've learned is that a toxic cocktail of
chemicals was used in
Vietnam. Some, used by themselves, posed little or no health risk to humans.
However, when a
herbicide used in combination with other chemicals is as widespread as we now
know it was,
human health risks are astronomical and of great concern. Over the year just
committee has developed a strategy and helped in negotiations with the agencies
that have the
power to proceed with getting answers for all of us and our families, 33 years
after the last Air
Force Ranch Hand mission was flown over Vietnam.
Chair: Paul Sutton. Vice Chair: Linda Schwartz. Members: Darrell Parrott,
James Branum, Billie Cullin, John "JD" Davis, William Dumsick, Alan Gibson,
Darrel Martin, Gerald Ney, William Sawyer, and Jack Thomas. Special Advisers:
Thomas Berger, George Claxton, Fran Davis, Cathy Green, Michael Lay, Robert
Stocker, and Stephen Lester. Staff Coordinator: Jennifer Chaney
ALAN GIBSON, CHAIR
It's hard to believe it has been seven
months since the National Convention, but after just two meetings
the ETaBO Committee has come together very nicely. We have
completed revised editions of VVA's Guide to Veterans Employment
and VVA's Guide to Veterans Preference, which were
initially distributed in 1999. We also are well along with two new
guides, VVA's Guide to Vocational Rehabilitation and
VVA's Guide to Small Business, for distribution during the
At the Leadership Conference, the committee will be presenting a
workshop called "What ETaBO Is And What It Can Do For You.'' Many
of our brothers and sisters believe that Vietnam veterans are too
old to work or that those who are working don't need any help. For
those of you who are employed by government agencies, we have been
working on violations to Veterans Preference, including Veterans
Preference with companies that have federal contracts.
For those nearing retirement age who have more obligations than
money at the end of the month, we have been working on getting
veterans into small businesses to supplement retirement income.
This includes VA Vocational Rehabilitation, loans under $50,000,
and veteran-owned businesses that give discounts to fellow
veterans. For a list of veteran-owned businesses, check
Remember, veterans buying from veterans makes winners of us all.
Along with the Government Relations Department, we have been
working with the U.S.
Department of Labor to change laws that could keep veterans from
being paid overtime. We try to work the system without fanfare.
When we need help, we contact members via the VVA Talk List.
That's one reason you should be in touch through the Talk List.
Contact Dick Southern at
email@example.com and ask to be added to the list.
Chair: Alan Gibson. Members: Darrol Brown, Bob Casell, Robert
Corsa, Calvin Gross, Joseph Jennings, Keith King, William Messer,
Fara Sanchez, Mike Schott, and Connie Steers. Special Advisers:
Judy Bolio, Jerry Kahn, Charlie Richardson, and Jeffrey White.
Staff Coordinator: Eddie Gleason.
BY AVERY TAYLOR, CHAIR
Affairs Committee identified seven key initiatives to address
during 2004 and has named a committee member to be responsible for
each one. In conjunction with the Public Affairs Committee, George
Duggins and Mary Stout are leading the 2004 Vote America campaign.
Kim Bredenbeck is in charge of the review and recommendations for
all combat awards. Alan Gibson has taken the lead researching the
status of the Montagnard people in the United States. Darrell
Parrott is working toward defining and proposing a VVA position on
the USS Liberty disaster and other similar issues. Jerry
Klein is working to re-establish the
Legislative Coordinator network. Tom Berger is developing plans
for expanding the Advocacy Training workshops. And lastly, Kim
Bredenbeck is using his military experience as an educator to
design the Government Affairs session for the Leadership
What follows describes where we stand on the Government Affairs
G-1-03 The "Veterans Vote!'' Campaign. Public Service
Announcements and press releases have been distributed to promote
the veteran vote. Campaign buttons and other promotional materials
will be produced and delivered to all members. Additional programs
and initiatives are being rolled out regularly during this
presidential election year.
G-2-95 The Legislative Coordinators Network. The committee
has introduced a new initiative to revitalize and make this
program more effective.
G-3-95 Support for the National Gulf War Resource Center.
VVA provides financial support to the resource center and is
currently collaborating with the department regarding SHAD and DoD.
G-4-97 Extension of Vietnam Conflict Ending Date and
Eligibility for the Vietnam Service Medal. There has been no
legislative activity on this issue during the 108th Congress. The
committee will keep this issue on the legislative agenda and
continue to press for action.
G-5-03 Vet Center Eligibility for Vietnam-era Veterans.
Public Law 106-117 extended Vet Center eligibility to December 31,
2003. However, the Vet Center readjustment counseling resources
services must be expanded to meet the needs of all veterans who
receive services from the Vet Centers. VVA continues to support
G-6-99 Establishment by the VA of More Convenient Sites for
Veterans Hearings. The VA has eliminated hearings at the
central office and now contacts veterans by telephone and uses
video conferences for hearings. This resolution had been
recommended for retirement but the Convention chose to keep it on
the books since there are still instances in which the hearing
sites and methods are not satisfactory.
G-7-99 Service Connection for Hepatitis C. VVA supports H.R. 639,
introduced by Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) and companion
S.457 introduced by Sen. Olympia Snow (R-Maine). If these do not
pass in the current Congress, they will be reintroduced next year
and VVA will support them.
G-8-99 Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the End of the
Korean War. The national office keeps a calendar pursuant to
this resolution so that VVA is represented at the memorial
occasions specified in the resolution. This resolution was
satisfied November 11, 2003, and will be retired at the next
G-9-03 Awarding of the Combat Medevac Badge (CMB).
Legislation has been
introduced to provide for this award. In accordance with other
provisions of the resolution, research has begun on defining other
combat awards and the criteria for each. This will be a prelude to
defining additional combat awards that need to be created.
Chair: Avery Taylor. Vice Chair: Alan Gibson. Members: Tom Berger,
Kim Bredenbeck, Jack Devine, George Duggins, Marsha Four,
Francisco Ivarra, Jerry Klein, Larry Klein, John Koprowski, Darrel
Martin, Sandy Miller, Darrell Parrott, Linda Schwartz, Mary Stout,
Paul Sutton, Bruce Whitaker. Staff Coordinator: Bernie Edelman.
Membership Affairs Committee
BY BILL MEEKS, JR., CHAIR
greetings to all. It's time to announce the make-up of the new VVA
Membership Affairs Committee and update the membership about the
actions taken by the committee to implement the Convention
VERIFICATION AND SECURITY OF DD FORM 214 (M-1-03): requires
that every applicant for individual membership in VVA must provide
a copy of his or her DD Form 214 or other acceptable documentation
establishing eligibility for membership. These documents are to be
kept at the local level in a confidential and secure manner in
accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Verification
to the national organization shall be done by the local chapter
secretary or, in the absence of the secretary, a designated
chapter official. Every new membership application received in the
national office is checked to be sure that a DD Form 214 is
submitted and that the nature and dates of service conform to the
membership eligibility criteria. The same is done for all new life
membership applications, even those from current individual
members. In cases of missing DD Form 214s or those that do not
meet the eligibility
criteria, the member is contacted. If the issue cannot be
resolved, the applicant is offered membership in AVVA.
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN VVA'S ORGANIZATIONAL LEVELS (M-2-03):
recognizes that the national office must reply to all
communications from state councils and chapters within five
working days and state councils and chapters must reply to all
communications from the national office within ten working days.
The Membership Director/Staff and the Membership Chair/Committee
respond on a daily basis to all communications pertaining to
membership. The Membership Affairs Committee is continuing to
provide a direct avenue for the membership to express concerns,
problems, and ideas to the committee by the Membership Affairs
Committee and State Council Membership Chair (MACSCMC) contact
list. Also, periodical updates pertaining to membership are sent
to the MACSCMC contact list, and the State Council Membership
chair then provides the distribution to the chapters.
MEMBERSHIP GROWTH AND RETENTION (M-3-03): requires, at all
levels in VVA, the development of a master plan to recruit and
retain members, using all available resources on a priority basis.
The 2003 VVA Membership Survey was conducted to provide
information pertaining to attitudes, opinions, and demographics of
the VVA members. The survey data was used to facilitate VVA's
current strategic planning to develop the "Membership Development
Plan.'' The 2003 National Membership Retention and Recruitment
Plan includes short- and long-term goals (one to three years),
incorporating maximum effort coupled with minimum cost to VVA.
WAIVER OF MEMBERSHIP FEES FOR PERMANENTLY HOSPITALIZED VETS
(M-4-03): requires the waiver of membership fees for all
otherwise qualified Vietnam-era veterans who are permanently
hospitalized and wish to join the organization. Chapters and state
councils enrolling such veterans waive all rights to membership
fees at their respective levels. The VVA National Board of
Directors approved designating a new class of membership,
``Permanently Hospitalized Veterans'' and waiving the membership
dues for these veterans during the November 2003 Board of
Meeks, Jr. Vice Chair: Lupe Alviar, Jr. Members: Carol Baker, Tom Berger, Fred Elliott, Hank Evans, Ned
Foote, John Miterko, Charlie Montgomery, Johnny Pancrazio, Charlie
Richardson, Fara Sanchez-Schafer, and Dick Southern, Special
Advisers: Marcia Hicks, Nancy Montgomery, and Nancy Switzer.
POW/MIA Affairs Committee
BY LARRY KLEIN, CHAIR
It seems like the National
Convention was just last week, and here we are four months away
from the Leadership Conference. Since the Convention, the POW/MIA
Committee has been hard at work. The new Convention Resolution to
fly the POW/MIA flag at all federally owned national cemeteries
has been added to the VVA Legislative Agenda. Committee members
are seeking congressional supporters to get it enacted into law.
The POW/MIA Committee link to the VVA website is growing stronger
than ever thanks to the dedication of Carol Engle of the VVA
Communications Department. Carol makes sure that all POW/MIA
information sent to her is immediately posted to the link so it is
readily available for members and others to read online.
The POW/MIA distribution list, which is the committee's second
source of up-to-date
information, is run by the committee chair and is now over 500
strong. For information on how you can get added on the
distribution list, e-mail me at
firstname.lastname@example.org I cannot say enough about the link. If it's
about POW/MIAs, it's there. If you have not visited the link, I
recommend you do.
For those who have asked about the Orange County Choppers POW/MIA
motorcycle, we asked that it be loaned to VVA for display at the
Leadership Conference. Unfortunately, it won't be available during
There are many sets of unidentified remains of MIAs in Hawaii.
There are remains from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Cold War.
There are no mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) or Family Reference Samples
(FRSs) on file that can supply the remains' identification. We
will soon have documentation that will be sent to each state
POW/MIA chair indicating who has not provided FRSs. I hope that we
will be able to help the Department of Defense locate family
members, get them tested, and perhaps help them find the final
piece of the puzzle to bring some closure.
Recently I was asked if I would be willing to help find family
members of more than 1,200 MIAs from the Korean War. Many sets of
remains have been returned from the Chosin Reservoir, and several
have been identified. Some 1,400 letters have been sent to family
members asking for FRSs. Only 200 people responded. I hope to have
the names and last-known addresses of the 1,200 family members who
have not responded. VVA could be instrumental in finding these
families. For information on DNA and FRSs, go to the committee web
link and click on the Central Identification Laboratory Hawaii (CILHI)
link. If you know a family member who is from the maternal
bloodline of an unaccounted-for serviceperson, please ask that
person to contact the military services to provide a blood sample:
Army: 800-892-2490; Air Force: 800-531-5501; Navy: 800-443-9298;
Marine Corps: 800-847-1597.
The committee would like each state council and chapter to adopt
POW/MIAs from their states. This can be done in several ways. One
that seems to be most common is presenting a plaque with the
servicemember's name to the family. State councils and chapters
can do the same on behalf of VVA.
Our presenter for the Leadership Conference is Tom McKay from the
Defense Intelligence Agency, Stony Beach, Hawaii. He also
presented at the last Tucson Leadership Conference. He is the
Chief Investigator of Last Known Alive cases and Live Sighting
reports. His presentation was very enlightening. If you are going
to be in Nashville, set aside Friday, August 6, at 9:00 a.m.
The committee, along with the Communications Department, is
working on putting together a POW/MIA Educational Guide Book. I'll
follow up in my next report.
Chair: Larry Klein. Vice Chairs: Bob Johnston and Al Cummings.
Members: James Baughn, Dan Carr, Buster Holmberg, Robert Jones,
Patrick Mahoney, Alta Millings, Douglas Perkins, Dave Schofield,
Frank Stacey, and Ken Sundberg. Special Advisers: Jim Doyle, Bill
Duker, Kay Gardner, Roger Hall, Bob Maras, Susan Regan, and
Barbara Sundberg. Staff Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee
BY TOM BERGER, CHAIR
The PTSD/SA Committee has been
working hard to accomplish the goals set forth in the 2003 PTSD/SA
National Convention Resolutions and to develop new initiatives for
the good of the membership.
The committee carefully reviewed the Convention Resolutions and
placed the five issues (noted below) on the VVA 2004 Legislative
Agenda & Policy Initiatives calendar. VVA will be advocating for
legislation that would:
end any prejudice in the
allocation of resources for neuropsychiatric treatment and
centers in the VA health care system and redress the current
imbalance of resources to restore the VA's organizational
capacity for mental health services (PTSD-3-95 and PTSD-5-95).
seek to make permanent the
eligibility criteria to gain access to VA care and treatment for
sexual trauma that originated during a veteran's military
mandate that inpatient and
outpatient PTSD and mental health treatment be available at all
VISNs, with resources related to the specific needs of the
veteran population in the VISNs (PTSD-3-95 and PTSD-5-95).
provide funding to enhance the
readjustment counseling programs at the 206 Vet Centers,
including PTSD counseling for families of veterans (PTSD-2-95
In addition, the chair has met with
representatives from the National Association for the Mentally Ill
Veterans Council to discuss strategies for building a coalition
between NAMI and VVA, as well as to identify top policy priorities
for veterans with mental illness (PTSD-7-01). The chair
participated in a panel discussion at the NAMI Winter Leadership
Conference in Arlington, Virginia, in January. The chair also
serves as the VVA consumer liaison representative to the VA's
Severely Mentally Ill Committee, which holds monthly
teleconferences and meets in person twice a year. This committee
provides input on VA PTSD and mental health programs directly to
Secretary Principi and his deputies.
The PTSD/Substance Abuse Committee received formal designation as
a VVA "Special Committee'' from the VVA Board of Directors at its
January meeting. The committee also presented its "Policy and
Procedures'' document at the January meeting, but BOD
consideration of the proposed document has been postponed until
the Board members have had an opportunity to review it in detail.
A room is now available in the evening during BOD meetings for
12-step meetings, and coffee is provided.
A small committee work group has been formed to gather information
on suicide among Vietnam veterans and their immediate families in
order that the whole committee can better decide how to address
suicide prevention and intervention.
The committee invited Al Batres, director of the VA Readjustment
Counseling Service (Vet Centers), to its January meeting to
provide an update on the Vet Centers' PTSD programs. He shared a
video from a PBS television documentary which focused on the Vet
Centers' PTSD programs. The video featured testimonials and
experiences from participating Vietnam veterans. Batres
presented demographic data on RCS staff, budgetary information,
and noted the increasing use of Vet Center programs by Iraq War
veterans and their families. He also answered questions from
committee members. The committee will continue to press for
increased Vet Center funding to be used for additional qualified
staff and quality PTSD and substance-abuse programs.
A revised PTSD/Substance Abuse tri-fold brochure is now in
production; 50,000 copies will be printed and made available for
distribution later this spring.
The committee approved a seminar program proposal for the
Nashville Leadership Conference and forwarded the proposal to the
VVA Conference Planning Group. Joseph Boscarino has accepted the
committee's invitation to present a seminar at the conference.
Boscarino is a distinguished PTSD researcher from the New York
Academy of Medicine. His studies of Vietnam veterans focus on
co-morbidities involving PTSD and a host of other ailments,
including cardiac diseases and autoimmune diseases such as
hepatitis and diabetes.
The committee's accomplishments are due to the commitment and
teamwork of its members. I am honored to serve as chair and salute
all members for their dedication and hard work.
Chair: Tom Berger. Vice Chair: Fr. Phil Salois. Members: Dottie
Barickman, Liz Cannon, Tony Catapano, Bob Corsa, Marsha Four,
Larry Goucher, Bob Maras, Sandy Miller, Jim Shott, and Mary Ellen
White. Special Advisers: Steve Mason, Nancy Switzer, Dee Hagge,
and Mary Miller. Staff Liaison: Mokie Pratt Porter.
Public Affairs Committee
BY JIM DOYLE, CHAIR
P-1-95 Community Service
Chapters and state councils continue to participate actively in
local community activities. These activities include working with
homeless programs, regular visits to VA hospitals and food banks,
and other community-based activities that improve the general
well-being of our communities and veterans.
P-2-95 Children's Welfare
Individual members, chapters, and state councils are in the
forefront of insuring the protection and well-being of children in
the United States and throughout the world, through various
services and programs. These activities include, but are not
limited to, preparing identification cards for children.
P-3-95 Chapter Involvement with Education
Using the VVA Education Guidebook as a resource ,VVA
members are involved at every level of the educational process,
including development and implementation of curriculum. VVA has
become an active participant in the Library of Congress Veterans
Oral History Project, the National Association of Social Studies,
and other educational activities.
P-4-95 Regulation of Certain Activities at the Vietnam Veterans
VVA continues to cooperate with the National Park Service in
developing and enforcing appropriate restrictions on activities at
The Wall. The responsibility for enforcing these regulations lies
with the National Park Service.
P-5-95 Endorsement for Participation in Local Environmental
VVA members are a leading voice in local efforts to assure a safe
environment. VVA members work at the community level to insure the
safe and proper disposal of toxic materials generated by industry
and commercial use.
P-6-03 Biennial Publication of the VVA Constitution and
This resolution is enforced by the Communications & Publications
Department. The Constitution and Convention Resolutions are
included as inserts in the issues of The VVA Veteran
published following the National Convention.
P-7-03 Requirement to Report Progress on All Currently Approved
Convention Resolutions at Least Annually
This resolution was modified at the 2003 Convention to provide for
at least annual reports rather than semiannual reports. The change
was made to allow new committee and task force chairs and members
to have adequate time to develop action plans for resolutions.
P-8-01 The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall
VVA and AVVA members continue their active stewardship of the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial through a variety of activities and
programs. This resolution reinforces the notion that this memorial
is our memorial, requiring us to be actively involved with its
maintenance, promotion, and respectful use. Activities include
local efforts to wash The Wall on a regular basis and to maintain
the footlights along the memorial.
P-9-01 Vietnam War In Memory Plaque Project
VVA was the first organization to support and encourage the
completion of this project that will recognize the sacrifices of
those who returned home from Vietnam only to die later as a direct
result of their service in the war. Casting of the plaque has been
completed. VVA has been asked by the In Memory board to host a
dedication ceremony for the plaque on Veterans Day 2004. Plans are
being developed to fulfill that request.
P-10-01 Recognition of the Veterans Against Drugs Task Force
VAD is an expanding program that offers young people the
opportunity to choose life over drugs. The program continues to
expand its outreach and educate our children and communities about
the dangers of drug use. Task force members continue to act as
role models for the program.
P-11-03 Support for the Chapel of Four Chaplains Recognition
VVA and AVVA members are active participants in this program that
recognizes those whose extraordinary efforts support veterans and
their families. Paul Sutton has been reappointed VVA liaison to
the program. He accepts nominations for three levels of awards:
the Legion of Honor, Bronze Medallion, and Humanitarian Award.
Chair: Jim Doyle. Members: Ralph Garcia, Tom Hall, Larry Klein,
James Maddox, Charlie Mitchem, Mary Stout, and Avery Taylor.
Special Advisers: Mary Miller, Margaret Wojciechowicz, and Nancy
Switzer. Staff Coordinators: Mokie Porter and Michael Keating.
Veteran Affairs Committee
BY BRUCE WHITAKER, CHAIR
As defined in the VVA Constitution,
the Veterans Affairs Committee presents programs related to a
variety of subjects and special interests. The committee
coordinates its activities closely with the President, other
officers, and other committee chairs.
The committee works in conjunction with the Veterans Benefits
Committee, Health Care Committee, Government Affairs, and the
SHAD/Project 112 Task Force.
Since our November 2003 meeting, we have been researching the 14
resolutions assigned to the committee. To date, we have concluded
three resolutions (Philippine Veterans V-13-95, Encourage The
Government of Canada to Accept and Honor Canada’s Vietnam Veterans
V-14-99 and Resolution V-15-99); have resolved that one resolution
(Veterans Environmental Health Effects V-5-95) should be shared
with SHAD/Project 112 Task Force.
Chair: Bruce Whitaker. Vice Chair: Charlie Richardson. Members:
George Corbett, John Wallace, Rob Coughlin, Richard Marcinik,
Levett Hobbs, Ken Holybee, and Connie Christensen. Special
Advisers are Jim Grissom, Ed Chow, and Dee Hagge.
Veterans Benefits Committee
JERRY KLEIN, CHAIR
The Veterans Benefits Committee has
been very active in pursuing its mission since the end of the 2003
National Convention. A Basic Training Course for new Service
Representatives is scheduled for May. An Advanced Training Course
is scheduled for May as well, directly following the end of the
basic training course.
At the Leadership Conference in August, we will present two types
of training: service
coordinator training and an explanation of PTSD from a claims
benefits perspective. "An Anatomy of a PTSD Case'' will be
presented as a training tool explaining how to prepare, research,
and present an effective PTSD claim.
The Convention Resolutions are always an important aspect of
follow-up. The membership has charged each committee to implement
approved resolutions. Some progress has been made in fulfilling
that mandate. The Defense Authorization Act of 2004, H.R. 1588,
was enacted into law in the first session of the 108th Congress
and included "Veterans' Disabled Tax'' language for military
retirees rated 50 percent (VB-12-95). The legislation did not go
far enough to satisfy the intent of the resolution. Additional
efforts will continue to pursue modifications in the current law.
Hepatitis C legislation is pending in the second session of the
108th Congress. VVA is working with members of Congress in both
houses to fulfill the resolution (VB-15-95).
A review of VB-1-95 Judicial Review legislation will be followed,
and we will seek introduction of legislation previously introduced
A request for legislation to deal with VB-2-95 (Board of
Correction of Military Records) and VB-3-95 (Less-than-honorable
Administrative Discharges) will be investigated.
Chair: Jerry Klein. Vice Chairs: Rich Levesque and Charlie
Richardson. Members: Randy Barnes, Darrol Brown, Butch Huber,
Allen Manuel, Jim Pace, Pat Pudetti, John Rowan. Special Adviser:
Jim Grissom, Bob Maras, and Sandie Wilson. Staff Coordinator:
BY JOHN KOPROWSKI, CHAIR
Incarcerated Committee has been busy these past six months.
Although it seemed at times we had to take a step back, we've made
The committee Policy Statement was approved by the committee and
submitted to the Board of Directors. The purpose of the committee
is to develop advocacy programs of awareness with regard to the
special needs of veterans who are presently or formerly
incarcerated. The committee works with state and federal agencies
to develop programs to help in the rehabilitation of veterans
Our Mission Statement for 2004 will be approved at the committee
meeting in April and be published in the next issue of The
The committee met with the National Coalition for Homeless
Veterans in January. The coalition has put together a guide to
help veterans incarcerated plan for their release into society. It
provides information that can be used prior to release and after
release. To order a copy, write to the National Coalition, 333
Pennsylvania Ave., S.E., Washington, DC 20003-1148
Since publication of the December issue of the cover story on PTSD
post sentencing by Bill Triplett, we have received several
requests for assistance. However, we cannot provide support in any
matter pertaining to legal issues. We neither have the resources
nor the expertise or the capacity to hire legal experts with
knowledge of criminal laws in each state. VVA has maintained this
position since its founding, but does not prohibit state councils
and chapters from getting involved in this kind of activity.
The Veterans Incarcerated Assistance Booklet is finished and will
be ready for distribution to state councils and chapter liaisons
helping incarcerated chapters. The booklet is a planning guide to
ease the release into society and help formerly incarcerated
veterans find a better way of life.
Chair: John Koprowski. Members: Ron Adams, Jim Doute, Adolph
Gardner, Joe Jennings, Allen Manuel, Tom Meinhardt, and Tim
Susengill. Special Advisers: Wayne Miller, Jeani Wells, and Jeff
White. Staff Coordinator: Elaine Chaney.
Women Veterans Committee
MARSHA FOUR, CHAIR
These last six
months have been busy. The planning of VVA events for Veterans Day
2003 and the celebration of the anniversary of the Vietnam Women's
Memorial expended a great deal of committee energy. It was the
culmination of a year's work. Much outreach was accomplished. It
was also a positive experience to see the coordination of
activities between agencies, organizations, and VSOs. These
activities gave us the opportunity to come together in a venture
that fostered increased communication and friendships.
In November, the committee reviewed and submitted its legislative
priorities to the Government Affairs Committee. These have been
worked into the VVA congressional testimony. We welcomed Al Batres,
the director of the VA's Readjustment Counseling Service, to our
The VA Summit 2004 for Women Veterans is scheduled for June 18-20
at the Capital Hilton Hotel in Washington. The format will be
similar to that of Summit 2000, with plenary sessions and
presentations from several speakers. There also will be tiers of
topic sessions. Each will have a moderator and a panel of experts.
Workshops will be designed to allow for group participation. The
work of the groups will be reported to the body of Summit
participants on the last day. To attend, call the Center for Women
Veterans at 202-273-6193, and register as soon as possible. Should
you register and later realize you cannot attend, please call the
center and cancel. In this way others on the waiting list will
have the opportunity to attend.
We have all been reading about the incidences of military sexual
trauma (MST) and rape in the military. With the attention this
subject received 12 years ago and the Senate hearings that ensued,
many of us believed this would go away. But today many, many more
women are serving in our armed forces. We are hearing about many,
many more reports of abuse. The committee will look at the
implications of this issue. MST counseling is available in the VA
regardless of eligibility criteria. But this issue begs several
questions that we will investigate.
Chair: Marsha Four. Vice Chair: Sandy Miller. Members: Carolyn
Baker, Lois Beck, Connie Christensen, Billie Culin, Judi Greg, Bob
Maras, Judy McCombs, Alta Milling, Anna Maria Rutallie, Linda
Schwartz, Sandie Wilson, Sandra Spatz-Wiszneauckas, and Mary Ellen
White. Special Advisers: Joan Furey, Martha Green, Sara McVicker,
Jill Mishkil, Anne Pancrazio, Fara Sanchez-Schaefer, Nancy
Switzer. Staff Coordinators: Tracie Houston and Lavonia Levroney.
Homeless Veterans Task Force
BY SANDY MILLER, CHAIR
The legislative priorities of the
Homeless Veterans Task Force have been established and our
Strategic Plan has been revised.
This task force speaks to and realizes all five Core Values as
outlined in the VVA Strategic Plan. Advocacy can be
realized through our continuing efforts and work at all levels of
government to ensure that legislative issues relative to homeless
veterans are orchestrated. Through the efforts of the task force
and its members, meaningful achievement has been
accomplished and is evident in the number of homeless veterans who
have been reached and assisted. VVA Homeless Veterans Task Force
has become a great resource in the community when dealing with
homeless veterans, adding to our integrity and ability to
take responsibility. The compassion of the Task Force is
obvious in our caring approach to ending homelessness among
veterans. The idea of camaraderie is exemplified in our
mission to support each other as veterans, homeless or not.
The members of the VVA Homeless Veterans Task Force continually
seek to lead. "The challenge to do what is right for America and
its’ veterans" in keeping with the vision of Vietnam Veterans of
America. By aggressively advocating on behalf of homeless veterans
through the legislative process; by task force members providing
services to homeless veterans; and by continuing to serve our
communities, the VVA Homeless Task Force is in full compliance
with the mission of VVA.
Legislatively, we continue to seek a "fair share" of resources to
meet the special needs of homeless veterans, to link set-aside HUD
McKinney homeless dollars with the VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem
Program funding to ensure the availability of necessary resources
for transitional housing, to set aside VA Health Care for Homeless
Veterans funds as a line item in the budget, to insure the VA FY05
budget includes all authorized appropriated funds for
implementation of all provisions of PL 107-95, the Homeless
Veterans Assistance Act of 2002, to insure adequate funding for
Health and Human Services for HUD McKinney-Vento programs,
including PATH, HCHV, and HVRP to insure that funding for FEMA
includes $200 million for the National Emergency Food and Shelter
Board, and to insure that the VA Homeless Grant and Per Diem
Program include women veterans as a priority category under the
next capital grant round.
Additionally, the HVTF will award one Life Membership to VVA on an
annual basis to an individual homeless veteran who has
successfully made the transition from homelessness back to the
Chair: Sandy Miller. Vice Chairs: Marsha Four and Paul Sutton.
Members: Ron Adams, Lew Broughton, and Sam Hell. Special Advisers:
Linda Boone, Lynda Greene, Jeani Wells, and Mary Yeomans. Staff
Coordinator: Sharon Hodge.
Project 112 / SHAD Task Force
BY JACK DEVINE
"We don't know what we don't
know." This slogan, coined by Rick Weidman, seems to sum up a
lot about SHAD. That sailors were exposed to a variety of
biological agents, simulants, and tracers, and to chemical
agents and decontaminants during a decade of testing is no
longer in dispute. Precisely what they were exposed to, and
the potential effects of that exposure, remain murky.
DoD, under prodding of Congress and a lawsuit initiated by VVA,
has told some bit of truth and pretends that all the important
facts are public. After first denying that SHAD even happened,
officials now acknowledge that some 50 tests were held, 20 of
which fell under the auspices of the SHAD project. After an
"exhaustive" investigation that VVA believes was neither
exhaustive nor particularly thorough, DoD released a series of
Fact Sheets. The facts do not match the recollections of those
who participated in them. In the words of one sailor: "Man,
these are scrambled."
VVA has devoted staff and resources to uncovering the facts of
SHAD. At the second meeting of the Project 112/SHAD Task Force
last November, we set the stage to jump start our
investigation. The deposition in December of Dr. J. Clifton
Spendlove, technical director of the SHAD program, generated
intense media coverage. In February, Government Relations
staff and members of the task force spent two weeks
interviewing SHAD veterans and officials from the Deseret Test
Center. The lawsuit against individuals at DoDindividuals
from the VA were eliminated as defendants by a court rulingis
At the next meeting of the task force in April we will review
what we know (and don't know) and see how we can expand our
base of knowledge.
Chair: Jack Devine. Members: Jack Alderson, Jim Druckemiller,
Norm LaChapelle, Bob Maras, Paul Sutton, Homer Tack, and Mary
Ellen White. Staff Coordinator: Bernie Edelman.
Veterans Initiative Task Force
BY ROBERT MARAS, CHAIR
First, I want to
thank our members and others who have provided information about
missing Vietnamese. We are told by representatives of the Joint
Task Force Full Accounting in Hanoi that this information
continues to further cooperation by the Vietnamese in providing
information on American missing. I would also like to thank the
members of the Veterans Initiative Task Force for their efforts in
working towards our mission of the fullest possible accounting of
In September while in Hanoi, members of the Veterans Initiative
delegation attended the repatriation of five sets of U.S. remains;
two additional sets of remains were recovered while task force
representatives were in country.
The Veterans Initiative Task Force made its first trip to Vietnam
in May 1994. In the almost ten years of working veteran to
veteran, the Task Force has made 16 trips to Vietnam and has
provided information to the Vietnamese Veterans Association on
8,694 Vietnamese KIA; 1,086 Vietnamese prisoners; and 2 Vietnamese
The task force is developing a new brochure. We are also working
on a great program for our upcoming Leadership Conference. We plan
to have representatives from PAC/CIL-HI attend, along with JPAC/JTFF-A
members. We want to show all phases of the recovery process: what
takes place when information is received and then sent to the
field; what happens when remains are found; and how the remains
are identified at CIL-HI and the families are notified. I hope to
see many of you there.
If you know those with information about missing Vietnamese,
please encourage them to submit the information to the VI Task
Force in care of the VVA national office. Should you have any
suggestions on how to further spread the word about the Veterans
Initiative, please contact me at
email@example.com With everyone’s help, we can succeed.
Chair: Bob Maras. Vice Chair: Jim Doyle. Members: Richard Delong,
Lee Fisher, Gary Jones, Larry Klein, and Jack Thomas. Special
Advisers: Janet Alheit, Dan Druen, Bill Duker, Patricia Fisher,
Kay Gardner, Susie Regan, Nancy Switzer, and Jeff White. Staff
Coordinator: Mokie Porter.