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Directors’ Reports, September/October 2022 -   -  

Just back from the Leadership Conference in Greenville, S.C., and it was good to see a lot of familiar faces. Greenville is a pleasant, friendly town with some fun places to visit.

It was a very informative week with many well-planned seminars. Being vice chair of the POW/MIA Committee, I particularly enjoyed the presentation by committee Chair Grant Coates, along with Mokie Porter. The presentation included the names and locations of the POW camps throughout North Vietnam and the more creative names given to them by the Americans held there. There were 26 POW escapes during the war; however, there were no retrievals.

At the Board of Directors meeting there was additional discussion regarding Veterans’ Voice of America. An MOU was approved to move forward with planning as it awaits accreditation by VA.

I had the pleasure of meeting Sean Venables, the new editor of The VVA Veteran. We had a good conversation about the magazine and its format. Sean was open to suggestions and is looking at ideas for changes. Overall, it was a good conference at a beautiful hotel, and everyone seemed to have a good time.

Elections were held on July 9 at the Massachusetts State Council meeting. Re-elected president was Gumersindo Gomez. Other officers re-elected were Secretary Justin Latini; Vice President VP East Bruce Dobson; and VP West David Kelleher. Newly elected were Treasurer Glenn Wiley and VP Central James Benton. I had the honor of swearing in the new slate of officers and look forward to working with them.

The Region 1 conference is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24, and will be hosted by the Rhode Island State Council. There will be more information coming shortly with all state councils being notified by email soon. Looking forward to seeing as many of you there as possible.

To those who didn’t make it to the Leadership Conference, I want you to know that you missed out on a wonderful and fulfilling VVA event. We had 313 people registered for the Conference held in beautiful Greenville, South Carolina. Forty-eight were from Region 2, with Pennsylvania sending 21 members, 17 members traveling from New York, and 10 from New Jersey.

There were plenty of educational opportunities available at the seminars. Almost all were packed, including the advanced service officer training classes.

The Saturday night Awards Banquet saw fellow New Yorker John Rowan, who served eight terms (2005-2021) as Vietnam Veterans of America’s National President, receive the VVA Lifetime Achievement Award, along with Diane Carlson Evans, who led the effort to build the Vietnam Women’s Memorial, and David Ferriero, who just retired as the head of the National Archives.

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who offered condolences on the loss of Charlie, my faithful service dog — whether by telephone, sympathy card, in person, or even with thoughts or prayers. They meant so very much to me.

I hate to begin my report with bad tidings, but some members in Region 7 may not be aware of the passing of Kerwin Stone. I served with him when he was first elected to the Board of Directors and found him to be level-headed and extremely knowledgable. He was also the President of the Kerwin Stone’s family and to the Texas State Council for the loss of one Texas State Council.

On behalf of Region 7 and its membership, I would like to extend our condolences to of the most humble and kindest individuals I will ever know.

On a brighter note, congratulations are in order for the President of the Louisiana State Council, Terry Courville, for being awarded the Vietnam Veterans of America Commendation Medal at the Leadership Conference.

I would also like to thank National President Jack McManus for his leadership in putting together this year’s conference. We had more than three hundred attendees, including approximately two hundred first-timers who came to Greenville, South Carolina, to learn what VVA is all about.




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