|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Treasurer’s Report, January/February 2021|
The Slow Path to a New Normal
BY JACK McMANUS
It’s been just over a year since we first started hearing about some type of virus or flu epidemic coming out of Asia. That was an odd bit of news that ultimately became as life changing to the whole world as our most tragic global wars.
For most of us the extremely remote possibility of scaly anteater steak or bat-meat stew becoming part of our diet sort of lulled us into complacency for a short period of time. But we soon became aware that this was a human-to-human contagion and not some bizarre distant malady that would have little effect on how we went about our daily lives. We realized we were going to have to deal with a global epidemic—a pandemic—unlike anything we’d seen or prepared for in our lifetimes.
Now, with more American lives lost than killed in action in World War II—and with millions of our fellow country women and men already infected and rates increasing daily—it has become apparent that we and future generations are changed forever.
So, too, has VVA changed. We are so different today: Many of our comfortable daily conveniences and routines have been restricted or eliminated. We are at a point that technology and innovation provide the means for us to pursue the important things we used to do, but our people-to-people interchanges suffer.
Prime examples of this phenomenon are VVA meeting and communication methods. Today, we are getting very comfortable with virtual meetings at all levels of our lives. How many of us used Zoom or Skype during the holidays as our primary means for family get-togethers?
In VVA, because of remote work, travel restrictions, and social distancing, our virtual meetings have become routine. Most staff interactions and functions, all committee activities and meetings, and Board of Directors meetings are now being held virtually.
From some perspectives, we might now be even more efficient and productive by replacing physical communication with newer technological solutions. On the legislative front, this last year has been one of our most successful. There is a lot to be said for having virtual town halls and hearings that open discussions to the masses, versus the grandstanding and political posturing that marked the old process. Human social interaction is a casualty of our newer communication technologies. So we need to be sensitive to this loss and seek ways to minimize it, particularly because working closely together is a primary reason for our existence—especially on the chapter level.
The BOD recently learned from our Constitution Committee Chair, Leslie DeLong, about an executive waiver for nonprofits issued by the governor of New York that will allow us to hold a virtual National Convention, complete with elections. That could radically change the level of participation in the 2021 Convention, and we would no longer have to be concerned about the still-unknown travel and social distancing restrictions that might be in effect in August.
President John Rowan is forming a new working group to assess the methods of replacing the planned 2021 physical National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, with a virtual one that will still be held in this odd-numbered year as required by the VVA Constitution.
The Officers and the staff of The VVA Veteran recommended—and the Finance Committee also recommended for BOD approval—that a printed and mailed version of the magazine be reinstated starting with the March/April issue. The new printed version would be more compact (36 pages versus the former 52-page edition) and have a significantly lower cost than the pre-COVID version. The BOD will make a final decision soon, but we are proceeding on the assumption of budget approval.
There is an old Kris Kristofferson tune, “Why Me?” that I so often asked of myself after surviving Vietnam when some close buddies didn’t make it home. This frickin’ coronavirus brings the same question: “Lord, why me? Why us?”
If we have been blessed to survive yet again, then there must be a reason. Let us pray that it is to continue to serve with each other and to continue to serve our nation in its time of need. Thanks, Lord.
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