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



We welcome letters to the editor for publication in The VVA Veteran. We are interested in your criticism as well as your praise. Letters may be edited for purposes of clarity or space. Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

John Prados’s article, “Numbers Game,” in the January/February issue is well documented and informative, but may lead some readers to assume that most refugees from North Vietnam [in 1954] were duped and manipulated by church and state authorities into believing that they had to flee south to avoid persecution. Of the dozens of refugees I met and talked to in my eighteen months in Civic Action and other service in Vietnam (1969-70), I found no one who thought they had been tricked or cajoled into emigrating.

In fact, from the laborers, nuns, journalists, teachers, priests, and doctors I met, all had first-hand evidence of the dangers which they were fleeing. Several admitted to having been Viet Minh revolutionaries who, when Ho Chi Minh began consolidating his power, witnessed the beginning of the brutal purges of liberal democratic advocates.

This evidence is, of course, anecdotal, not statistical, but is from people who were eyewitnesses to the events. That the communists continued the persecutions of Catholics and others after the fall of Saigon suggests that, though the numbers may have been inflated for political purposes, as Prados notes, the dangers were real.

Paul Kaser
Fresno, California


Unlike the VFW, American Legion, and DAV—which have a new group of veterans to recruit from—VVA is a dying organization. The last Vietnam veteran walked off the hill more than 30 years ago. By the time you read this, I myself will have passed on.

That said, what are the strengths of our organization? I think our two greatest strengths are our knowledge and institutional lore. By this, I mean that the wonderful folks at VVA headquarters possess unique skills that help veterans. Through the service reps, they help veterans submit accurate and timely benefit requests that are easy to adjudicate. They also know which lawmakers favor veterans’ affairs and which ones do not. They are extremely knowledgeable in dealing with Agent Orange issues, PTSD, and our homeless and incarcerated veterans.

I would like to see the organization set aside $250,000 to help fund an organization for the veterans of the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and perhaps share some rooms at the headquarters. We have invented a beautiful wheel that works well. I would hate to see them reinvent this and not create what we have already.

Michael C. Ross
Montgomery County, Maryland

Editor’s note: Mike Ross died April 14.


I saw your January/February 2004 article on the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans tragedy. Thank you for the article. My twin brother, LTJG Jon Kenneth Stever, was the senior officer lost. My family suffered greatly from his loss, which was made worse by the response we got from our senator in our effort to have these men recognized by adding their names to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Your article gave me the first understanding of why it appeared that the government was attempting to quiet this issue. My father is gone, but my mother, 84, and sister are angry with our government’s continuing failure to recognize those lost in this tragic accident.

Events keep bringing me back to this tragedy. I know that there are many others still suffering from this event.

Ron Stever
Via e-mail


Marc Leepson was a tad hasty in the March/April issue in dismissing the Domino Theory. After all, we simply have no idea what would have happened had the U.S. not intervened in Vietnam. Moreover, we now know that Kennan’s Containment Theory worked. Communism did not spread because it was resisted in Korea and Vietnam and in many other places around the world.

Evelyn Lincoln
Falls Church, Virginia


I have read the articles on PTSD in the March/April issue several times. These are probably the best I have read. Thank you. That was an important service you provided.
I am a charter member of Chapter 857 in New Philadelphia, Ohio. I would like to reproduce the front page and submit it to our local newspaper. Those words are very powerful. So few people know what we suffer nightly and daily. If they read those words, perhaps we would receive at least a little understanding and acceptance. We do not want much. But I would like to put those words before people’s eyes. Thank you very much for all you have done and are doing.

Stephen Gallion
Via e-mail


I agree with James C. Anderson (“Letters,” March/April). Neither Vietnam veterans nor any other veteran should be seeking expanded benefits from the federal government. My grandfather fought in France in World War I, my dad was in World War II, my older brother went in in 1957, I went twice to Vietnam.

We were all promised health benefits. If a vet is disabled and cannot work, then the government should take care of him like it promised. The veteran fought for his country, paid taxes, paid Social Security. I am 100 percent disabled through Social Security and 30 percent through the VA. I have been fighting the VA since 1997, and cannot get anybody to help me with my claim.

Samuel J. Bearden
Heber Springs, Arkansas


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