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

December 2004
Photo:Michael Keating
Here To Make A Difference

It's traditional, as we move into another year, to look back at where we've been and to look ahead at where we are going. In VVA, next year we will address our veteran-related legislative priorities, as well as other important issues facing us.

We can be proud of what we have accomplished these last 12 months. We still have work to do, but we will not be swayed in our pursuit of justice for veterans.

We began the year with the Vote For America 2004 campaign, which energized many VVA members to reach out like never before to remind our fellow veterans and the general public that each vote matters and each voice can be heard. That is, after all, what we fought for.

The elections are now over. It is time to get to work to address the serious issues confronting our active-duty and veteran population and their families. We will continue to present a strong, clear, and consistent message: We are here to make a difference for those who served and for those serving today. We have carried our message to everyone. We refuse to be ignored.

I understand that at times it is frustrating, but we have supporters on both sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill who have stood up and supported our goals. Loyalty to the spirit of our national motto, "In Service To America," is the dynamic force that motivates our members in every state, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, the Philippines, and beyond.

In addition to pursuing our agenda in the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, VVA and AVVA members have worked in many areas: creating identification packages for children at local malls, conducting clothing and food drives, registering voters, offering Honor Guards for ceremonies and funerals, restoring and maintaining monuments and memorials, visiting patients in VA hospitals, Soldiers & Sailors homes, and nursing homes, providing service and shelter to homeless veterans and their families, and speaking to a new generation of Americans at schools.

Our members in the Washington, D.C., area and beyond visit with wounded servicemembers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Bethesda Naval Hospital. Our members also meet and support returning troops throughout the country.

We continue our groundbreaking working on the SHAD program, part of the Cold War-era Project 112 that tested the effects of chemical and biological weapons on U.S. military vessels, aircraft, and thousands of American servicemembers. Every servicemember who was subjected to SHAD tests should be notified of his participation in order to evaluate his health.

We should all be proud of the part VVA played in the dedication of the In Memory Plaque November 10. This plaque is the final element of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. It honors those among us who returned home and found out years later their health had been compromised. Now, just steps from where the names of over 58,000 of their comrades are engraved on The Wall, the spirits of these men and women who served together rest in peace together.

We are concerned about the placement of the Plaque and will continue to promote a more prominent placement for this important part of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

Our work is never finished. In some instances, it has just begun. We face a government in which all three branches are controlled by the same party. We lobbied hard in the last Congress but fell short of what we believe is the minimum necessary to care for those who served.

We are prepared to meet face-to-face with those who control our health care system. They have been elected to lead the country. Our duty as citizens and veterans is to insure that they do the job they were elected to do, and that they do it fairly and equitably.

I have asked for meetings with the leaders of Congress and the administration to urge them to meet the needs of veterans and active-duty personnel. We will continue working with Congress and the administration regardless of our political beliefs. We will continue to insist that the care and treatment of our veterans is the cornerstone of Homeland Defense.

Remember our friends who are facing illness, all who served, those serving today, and their families. 

I wish everyone a health and happy holiday season.

God Bless America.


Happy New Year.


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Vietnam Veterans of America ® 
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