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Vice President’s Report, January/February 2021 -   -  

A New Beginning

Tom Burke, © Michael Keating Welcome to 2021. I wave goodbye to 2020 without being too sad to see her ramble into history. Most of us will not shed too many tears. May the coming year bring great health, peace of mind and body, better living, and joy to all of us. With the arrival of the New Year we hope for a new beginning without the despair and suffering so many faced in 2020.

If I may borrow from St. Francis: Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy.

I, along with my fellow VVA Officers, have been continuing our efforts to navigate the pandemic and provide a safe environment in which our staff can work. Staff members have been, and still are, going into the office on a rotating basis to check mail and do vital business. We also have had many questions about when the full staff would return to HQ on a full-time basis. We were hoping that we could make that happen in January. But that turned out to be unrealistic. The pandemic has not improved. If anything, it has gotten much worse.

In my last report I wrote that I hoped we would soon be in a much better place to move our organization forward. Financially, we have been slowly improving. Our staff has been doing an outstanding job, working remotely where appropriate and working hard for veterans. Your Officers continue to communicate weekly, other times daily, and we meet virtually with staff, the Board, the Conference of State Council Presidents, committee chairs, and others to continue checking on and supporting all our efforts across the country. 

We have new hope with the vaccine being distributed. We are hopeful that this may finally allow us to come together and return to some form of normalcy at VVA. However, the time frame is the question. It may be a couple of months or longer before we all get vaccinated. This depends largely on how the states roll out the vaccine. But we have all been advised that masks and protocols will still be the order of the day, at least for the foreseeable future.

In my state, Ohio, individuals 65 and over are in phase 1B, as they call it. 1A is made up of health care workers, doctors, police, firefighters, and other first responders. Inoculations for those 65 and older may come fairly soon, perhaps late February or March. Stay tuned to local information to check on availability. You can also check with your local VA. Most major VA facilities are receiving the vaccine. Check the VA website to ascertain if a facility close to you is scheduled to receive the vaccine.


We are aware that VVA members are still experiencing difficulties continuing operations, maintaining contact, having effective meetings, and the like. We get it. Believe me, you are not alone. The Officers have been in contact with chapters and state councils to learn firsthand what their situations are. If you need to speak to me or any of the other Officers, we are available. We’re no more than a phone call away.

Virtual “special meetings” of the Board of Directors will continue through January and into April. During the Board meetings, State Council Presidents or their representatives will be able to listen in to what is being discussed. At some point I am sure President Rowan will allow SCPs and state representatives to address the Board with their concerns. Much depends upon the progression of the pandemic.

The VVA Convention Planning Committee continues its work. Hotel managers have been contacted, speakers are being considered, and entertainment is being looked at. Because of the pandemic, the final go/no-go decision has not been made. At the January 16 “special meeting” of the Board of Directors, the possibility of virtual Convention was discussed. Despite some obvious drawbacks, in many ways it’s a sensible and safe alternative.

As reported earlier, VVA’s Household Goods Program has restarted in most parts of the country. Some stores have restarted pickups on the street, while others are working on existing inventory. Different restrictions in different states dictate how the individual operations are progressing. We are still attempting to get back to where we were pre-pandemic, and it is encouraging to see that we are gaining some traction. We are fortunate in having Quentin Butcher at the helm of this program. He reports that we have not lost any stores or contracts with our buyers. The buyers are operating at about 25 percent capacity.  

Another good sign is that donations to VVA are up across the board. We hope this trend will continue to help us return our programs to the levels that they enjoyed pre-pandemic. Your Officers are grateful to those who donated to the organization over these past several months. Thank you.

Also: VVA’s Service Officer Grant Program has moved forward as scheduled with VVA funding. The Veterans Support Foundation leadership has experienced several setbacks and has not yet approved a new contract. We remain in contact with VSF President Keith King and Treasurer Alan Cook, and we are confident that we will work out an agreement in the near future. Stay tuned.




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