|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Treasurer’s Report, September/October 2022|
The Loss of Two VVA Leaders
Since my last report, VVA has lost two very important leaders, Tom Corey and George Claxton. Both men shouldered the challenges and work of moving our organization through early growing pains and serious legislative activities. Their work contributed to our legacy and set the standard for veterans now and in the future. I had the honor of working closely with them both.
Tom Corey’s leadership was a lesson for us all. No matter what the obstacles, he proved that you can still go where your heart wants to go even if your legs might not be able to take you there.
Because of my research on the effects of Agent Orange, I joined him on several trips to Vietnam. I will never forget the first one, which was a lesson in humanity and the healing quality of time and truth. I will never forget another trip, in which we presented items that Vietnam War veterans had contributed to the VVA’s Veterans Initiative. I was told we would be visiting the “Pentagon of Vietnam” for a meeting with senior officers of the Vietnamese military. Rather than the austere, bricks-and-mortar building I expected, this “Pentagon” was actually a beautiful, four- story Vietnamese building.
It didn’t have elevators, however, and that presented a challenge because Tom Corey was in a motorized wheelchair and the meeting was on the fourth floor. Our hosts had a solution. The Vietnamese officers and VVA delegation worked together to carry the VVA President up the stairs. When we reached the top, the teamwork we developed carrying him to the top set the table for a very productive meeting and another lesson in life.
George Claxton was our Agent Orange and toxic exposures guru. His mastery of the terminology and ability to pronounce words such as Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and polychlorinated dibenzo -p- dioxin was especially impressive. Despite the fact that he was not a graduate of any institute of higher learning, his presentations and comments were so detailed and precise that most researchers and legislators addressed him as Dr. Claxton.
He was an avid investigator of the complexities of the toxins used in Vietnam and the continued danger of those chemicals to veterans and their families. He did battle for all veterans because he sensed a great need to protect the planet and all who are exposed to these dangerous substances.
He was fearless in challenging data that made no sense, shoddy research, and contractors with no skin in the game. It was a great pleasure to watch him confront scientists, especially cynics and skeptics, about the toxic cocktail of poisons used in Vietnam.
The legacies of Tom Corey and George Claxton live on in VVA chapters, state councils, VA Hospitals, Vet Centers, and the halls of Congress. VVA has remained faithful to our Founding Principle, “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.” It was an honor to know and work with Tom Corey and George Claxton.
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