|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Membership Notes, November/December 2020|
Stanley E. Taylor Lynchburg, Virginia, Chapter 196 donated $1,000 to the Louisiana State Council in September to help VVA members in the state in the wake of Hurricane Laura, which caused massive destruction when it came ashore in late August. The funds came from chapter members and Chapter 196’s AVVA members. Vice President Jim Purdy, who runs the chapter’s website as well as the Virginia State Council’s, volunteered to take over the Louisiana State Council website following the death of the site’s webmaster. The chapter also recently donated $150 to Wreaths Across America and $100 to the St. Francis of Assisi Service Dog program, which trains and places service dogs with disabled children and adults.
Brooklyn, New York, Chapter 72 is continuing its close relationship with the Brooklyn VA Medical Center during the pandemic. Since the spring the chapter has provided meals to the VAMC medical staff every other Friday, Chapter President Danny Friedman said. “Now that the VAMC has begun to resume normal functions, we have provided a pizza party for the substance abuse ward.” The chapter also has donated more than $500 worth of sweatpants and underwear to the veterans on that ward. The Brooklyn VA closed its homeless veterans residence because of the pandemic. When it re-opens—probably this winter—the chapter “will work with VAMC staff to provide clothing and pizza parties,” Friedman said.
Bruce Waxman, a long-time active member of the Northern Virginia Dean K. Phillips Memorial Chapter 227, received an appointment from the Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates Eileen Filler-Corn in August to a four-year term as a trustee with the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation. The foundation supports veterans and their families through the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs with supplemental funds that go to a range of behavioral health, rehabilitative, and support services veterans programs. Waxman is a past president and vice president of Chapter 227 and serves on the chapter’s Board of Directors. The chapter recently provided nearly $3,000 in financial grants to two local veterans in need of rent assistance; to Capital Care Health, a home health-care service; to local homeless veterans to buy food; and to Veteran Fishing Adventure, which provides a specially equipped boat for disabled veterans to fish on the Potomac River.
The color guard of St. Lucie, Florida, Chapter 566 participated in Gold Star Mothers Day ceremonies September 27 at Veterans Park in Port St. Lucie at the invitation of the local Treasure Coast Blue Star Mothers chapter. The chapter supported the Palm Beach County Gold Star Families Memorial, which was dedicated in Trinity Park in West Palm Beach in 2019. Earlier in September the chapter held a POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony in Port St. Lucie that was restricted to chapter members because of the pandemic.
The Kansas State Council at its September meeting presented the VVA Achievement Medal to life member John Musgrave, a former Marine and longtime veterans advocate. Among other things, Musgrave helped spearhead the effort beginning in 1983 to build what became the University of Kansas Vietnam Memorial. Dedicated on Memorial Day 1986, the memorial contains the names of 55 University of Kansas alumni who did not come home from the war and was the first free-standing Vietnam veterans memorial on any American college campus.
Musgrave, who was severely wounded in Vietnam, was an active member of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. He is a poet and public speaker and has worked on many veterans’ issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide prevention with the National Veterans Wellness and Healing Center and the U.S. Army’s Suicide Prevention Program.
Torrance, California, South Bay Chapter 53 has temporarily adopted B.Y.O.L. general meetings. That is, chapter members are encouraged to bring their own lunches and lawn chairs to the meetings, which are being held outdoors at Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach. The chapter held its elections at the August meeting, and afterward outgoing President Kirk Gillett passed the gavel to his successor, Dennis Wild.
In recent years, Morristown, Tennessee, Chapter 1073 has donated more than 3,000 American flags to schools in the seven surrounding counties. “We’re in a lot of schools; we’ve got a lot of flags and a lot of classrooms,” chapter member Whit Whitworth recently told a local newspaper. “Every year when school starts, there will be one or two classrooms that don’t have flags. We furnish replacement flags. We’re in the process of redoing all of the schools as they reopen.”
Most recently, in early September, the chapter presented an array of flags, including one for the school’s outside flagpole, to Lakeway Christian Academy for its new middle and high school campus in White Pine. “We think it would be appropriate for each room to have a flag that will last for years,” chapter member Robert Russell said. “It’s a little bit of patriotism.”
Detroit Chapter 9 recently donated $10,000 to the Detroit Public Schools Foundation to underwrite two special scholarships: a JROTC Scholarship and The Unsung Graduate Scholarship. This fall there were two winners in each category.
Charles Alford IV of Renaissance High School, a freshman engineering major at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and Eddie Gardner III, a graduate of the Detroit School of Arts and a dual major in biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University, each received a $2,500 Unsung Graduate Scholarship. The $2,500 Junior ROTC cadet recipients were Fabiha Siddika, valedictorian of her 2020 class at the Detroit International Academy for Young Women who is now majoring in computer science at Macomb Community College, and LaShawn Wilkerson, the salutatorian of that same class, who will attend Henry Ford College and major in nursing.
“It is truly rewarding to be able to support the next generation by helping them further their education,” said VVA Chapter 9 President Paul Palazzolo. “We also wanted to do so in a way that’s a little less traditional, and that’s why we chose these categories.” Pamela Moore of the Detroit Public Schools Foundation, noting that there “is no shortage of young, bright, hardworking students who deserve financial support,” said the foundation was grateful to Chapter 9 “for these generous and much-needed scholarships.”
Chapter 9 last year established another scholarship program—this one for academically accomplished and community-minded descendants of Vietnam War veterans—in a program run in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan. The chapter awarded the first three $3,000 scholarships in September. They went to three college students whose grandfathers served in the Vietnam War: Shaylin Cota, a senior at Grand Valley State University; Angelos Gogonis, a senior at Michigan State; and Katarina Moore, a junior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Janesville, Wisconsin, Rock River Chapter 236 presented 14 chapter scholarships, two Tim Kettle Memorial Scholarships, and the Max Perkins Memorial and Albert Kath, Jr., Memorial Scholarships in May. The chapter normally sends members to local high schools to present the scholarship directly to the recipients. But in this non-normal pandemic year of school shutdowns, chapter Scholarship Chair Garry Meister said, the scholarships were mailed to recipients.
West Central Minnesota Chapter 235 has joined other local veterans service organizations, local officials, and businesses to design and build Veterans Memorial Park in Alexandria, Minnesota. The renovated park, which honors veterans of all branches of the military, living and dead going back to the 19th century, eventually will include a nine-foot granite replica of the Liberty Bell, as well as nine flagpoles displaying the flags of the United States and the State of Minnesota, along with the POW-MIA flag and the service flags of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine. It also will contain granite monoliths inscribed with the names of more than 7,000 veterans, and a picnic pavilion.
[MEMORIAL’S WEBSITE: https://alexveteranspark.org]
The members of Washtenaw County, Michigan, Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310 have taken care of the grounds of the Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Ypsilanti since its dedication in 1991. Even during the pandemic chapter members and AVVA members have worked at the memorial, washing the black granite and taking care of the grounds. The chapter’s next project is building a new supply and equipment shed on the site.
“For many years, folks have said the Memorial looks better than ever,” chapter member Jon Luker said. “Having a newer, closer, bigger, and more accessible shed with lights, water, and power will significantly increase our ability to keep improving the grounds.”
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