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 Regrettably, because of the volume of mail we receive, we are unable to acknowledge or return unpublished material.

My hat is off to John Rowan, whom I met about 25 years ago through Gold Star Wives in New York. I like what I just read in his President’s Message in the March/April issue, in which he wrote about two issues of interest to retirees and Gold Star Wives—proposed increased fees in the Tricare health care program and the so-called “widows tax.” I also like President Rowan’s comment regarding grassroots help.

Many thanks for your continued fight for what is right for veterans, widows, and orphans.

Rose Lee
Chair, Legislative Committee
Gold Star Wives of America, Inc.
Via e-mail

Thank you for your tribute to the Angel Fire memorial in the January/February issue. It’s a mere half-hour drive east of Taos, which is a mere hour north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, an easy drive. The chapel is stunning and stands on a hill overlooking a wide valley. Inside is a truly sacred space. It is empty, save for a large candelabra at the foot of which we leave votive candles and mementos. The chapel embodies an emptiness that can never be filled.

And yet it is full of the spirits of those who gave all. And it is in tribute to all who served. It is especially a place of peace for the Invisible Army, the WIA who live with the wounds and the trauma from a war that has been called “the argument without end.”

Adele Borman
Redondo Beach, California

I would like to thank you for publishing my Locator message in the May/June 2005 issue. In my message, I said I was looking for Sgt. Robert Skaggs, whom I served with in Vietnam. After 36 years of on-and-off searching, a lot of phone calls, and searching on line, late one evening last July my wife and I pulled into the garage after returning from a Chapter 862 memorial service for one of our members. My daughter came running out and said, “Dad, that guy you have been looking for just called ten minutes ago.” I turned to my wife with tears running down my face. I was speechless.

We later talked for over three hours. I found out he lives in Oklahoma. A friend of his had seen the message and put it in his lunch box with a note saying, “I think someone’s looking for you.” This summer we plan on getting together for the first time in 37 years. 

Thanks for your dedication and hard work and the service you provide to all veterans who belong to our fine organization.

Pete Petrosky
Industry, Pennsylvania

Regarding the expansion of the Vietnam Service Medal, I fully understand and agree that the Vietnam Service Medal should not be expanded to locations to include other than in-country veterans. However, I will submit to you that perhaps those who served during the war outside of the Republic of Vietnam should receive some type of medal or award that indicates that they served during the Vietnam War. It could be called the “Southeast Asia Service” medal.

In World War II, they issued an Asiatic Pacific Campaign medal. The Gulf War had a Southwest Asia Service medal for participation in, or support of, Operation Desert Storm.

This is similar to the issue of Cold War veterans who want a Cold War Service Medal to honor their service.

Rich Palazzo
Via e-mail


I would like to respond to the letter, “Not Guam,” in the March/April issue. I was stationed on Guam in 1967-68 and 1969 on two bomb teams and drove crew shuttle, working 12-to-14 hour days. The guys I was with were hard working and very proud of what we were doing. Our orders read, “In Direct Support of the Southeast Asia Mission.”

At that time Andersen AFB was one of the biggest forwarding bomb bases in the Western Pacific. We launched operations such as Arc Light, Rolling Thunder, and Linebacker. Missions like these probably keep a lot of boys from coming home in body bags.

I am very offended by the comment, because we were not in Vietnam during the war, we are not entitled to the Vietnam Service Medal, because we received the National Defense Service Medal. Everyone at that time got the medal. Guys like us got nothing: no medals, no thank you, and no respect, especially from in-country vets.

World War II veterans and the support troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan got awards, even though they did not serve in a combat zone. They also receive benefits like membership in VSOs. I think the No. 1 benefit is that they are all called veterans of their wars, unlike the not-in-country veterans of the Vietnam War, who are not considered Vietnam veterans. This really hurts.

Maybe we shouldn’t be entitled to the VSM, but it would have been nice to get our own award to recognize us for what we did in support of the ground troops in Nam. I don’t think we’ll ever have our day, because we have to be accepted by in-country veterans, and I don’t ever see this happening. Being accepted would be our award.

Thomas Konieczko
Racine, Wisconsin

I am writing in response to the excellent article in March/April issue, “Cold War Chemical Arms Race” by John Prados.

I am a Vietnam veteran and Army brat. My father was Provost Marshal and chief intelligence officer at Ft. Detrick, Maryland, in the early sixties. The GIs who were used as human guinea pigs for testing various agents there were all volunteers. They were Seventh Day Adventists who were conscientious objectors. Almost none have survived their experience. If they did not die during testing, they died later from side effects of their exposure. Those who died at Ft. Detrick were disposed of in the incinerator, I was told.

They may not have been willing to carry a weapon in Vietnam, but they served their country as much or more than those who served in Southeast Asia.

Charles T. Balent
Kentwood, Michigan


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