|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Directors’ Reports, January/February 2023|
I was honored to attend the Board of Directors meeting in November in Silver Spring. Plenty of business got done during the meetings. Region 1 had members from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island in attendance.
It looks like every ambulance chaser in the country wants to grab a piece of the fruit from the Camp Lejeune toxic water money tree. After much discussion, a resolution was approved that no VVA officer, board member, chapter, or state council can, on behalf of VVA, endorse any attorney to pursue a claim regarding the Camp Lejeune Justice Act.
An MOU has been established between VVA and Bergmann & Moore LLC regarding this case. B&M and VVA have a relationship going back to 2004. B&M is managed by former VA attorneys, and while members are free to go their own route, it is highly recommended that they confer with B&M regarding their Camp Lejeune case. A hasty decision now could cost you benefits in the future.
Another MOU was approved to work with the newly formed Veterans Voice of America to continue VVA’s legacy and Founding Principle, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” VetsVOA is a nonprofit that will handle existing claims in the future on behalf of VVA when we are no longer able to continue our work because of declining VSO programs in the country. I believe this is a prudent way to protect VVA members and see their claims through the appeals process.
At the November Board meeting, VVA President Jack McManus discussed our legacy. He proposed setting up local programs to teach schoolchildren about veterans and patriotism through nationally coordinated programs. We will discuss that further at the next Board meeting.
A very impressive PowerPoint presentation was made about DPAA and efforts to account for Vietnam War MIAs. Excavations in Vietnam are centered on searching for the bones and teeth at dig sites.
On Veterans Day we were bused to The Wall for the 40th anniversary ceremonies. The threatened rain and wind held off for the impressive event. Earlier, Park Service officials told VVA President Jack McManus that the event was canceled, and VVA Color Guards could not carry their flags due to the wind. McManus told them, “We have members from across the country here and we are coming.” The next thing we knew, the event was back on.
We hosted the Massing of the Colors with 33 states and territories representing VVA. The speeches were succinct and heartfelt. The bagpiper and the haunting sound of “Taps” was touching, to say the least. Congratulations to everyone who put this together.
Massachusetts Chapter 207 continued its 30-year history of celebrating Remembrance Day for MIA/POWs. Last year’s ceremony on September 16 had former POW Fred Purrington as the guest speaker. New Hampshire Chapter 992 and President Melvin Murrel have an exceptional newsletter. I wish there was room to include it here.
In December Region 2 lost two long-serving state council members. New York State lost former Southern District State Council Director Joe Ingino, and Pennsylvania lost former State Council Secretary Lee Corfield. They will be missed.
My surgery went well, and I am finished with therapy and rehab. 2023 will be a better year, and I am looking forward to getting back into the action and advocating for veterans.
If there are any questions or concerns within the region, feel free to contact me at 585-322-6722 or email email@example.com
Vietnam Veterans memorial walls will be making their way through Region 2 in 2023. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be at Roscoe, Pa., June 15-19; West Brownsville, Pa., September 812; and Long Valley, N.J., September 27-October 2. The Wall That Heals will be at Auburn, N.Y., September 14-17; Kutztown, Pa., September 21-24; New York City, September 28-October 1; Lindenhurst, N.Y., October 5-8; Lemont Furnace, Pa., October 12-14; and Phoenixville, Pa., October 26-29.
Until we meet again, be safe.
Region 3 and its state presidents continue to do an outstanding job. They make this regional director’s job a lot easier.
I have been getting many questions related to the VVA Constitution and bylaws. My honest response is that VVA has knowledgeable individuals who know how to answer these questions and enjoy helping others.
Here’s what Region 3 is preparing for in 2023. Most states are once again holding seminars and town hall meetings. Discussing the new PACT Act and continuing Agent Orange training were placed on hold during the past two pandemic years. We are now ready, well-versed, and prepared for any opportunity to share VVA’s expertise on these important subjects.
Traveling walls are on the move again to states in the region. It is amazing when you see visitors reading names on the wall and sharing stories. Many times, these small gestures bring long-lost veterans back together again.
We are in the process of mustering up our delegates for the Convention in August. The Convention, to me, is more of a reunion every year; you see friends and tell each other about the old stories from years past. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again in Orlando, Florida.
It is time to start thinking about the 2023 National Convention. In conjunction with the Convention planning, I believe we should plan on having our Region 6 Conference sometime in late summer to discuss candidates running for the national offices, as well as to go over proposed resolutions and constitutional amendments.
I have asked Greg Paulline, the Iowa State Council president, to consider hosting the conference and get some facility quotes so I can begin with the planning of it. I chose Iowa as it’s the most central location for all of us.
Please contact me if you have questions or suggestions.
I am pleased to report that Region 8 remains on solid ground. All states are active and involved with their chapters and state councils.
Without doubt, 2022 was an exceptional year for Region 8. Due to the leadership of our state council and chapter presidents, we have successfully accomplished our mission of effectively serving veterans and their families. I am proud to say that I have personally witnessed these accomplishments by attending the many state and chapter meetings held in the region. I strongly believe that 2023 will be an even better and more successful year for us.
What I consider the grand finale for Region 8 was the brotherhood and camaraderie at the 40th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., in November. We came together, not as tourists, but as veterans, to honor and pay tribute to our fellow brothers and sisters whose names are on The Wall. We also came to honor veterans from other wars who fought in foreign lands so that our history of freedom may remain a firm national foundation.
This Region 8 brotherhood and camaraderie were made possible by the leadership and coordination of Montana State Council President Chuck Renevier and Vice President Steve Holland and a contribution made by an anonymous donor. Region 8 and Montana Chapter 788 chartered our own tour coach for the 54 VVA and AVVA members who came to Washington. The total number included members from every state in Region 8.
We worked together to provide Massing of the Colors Color Guards for several states. That evening, Chapter 788 treated all members and guests from Region 8 to dinner. The following day, we traveled to Arlington National Cemetery, visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and saw the Changing of the Guard. Immediately afterward, one of the Army’s 2rd Infantry Regiment Tomb Guards gave a presentation on the duties, qualifications, procedures, and history of the Tomb Guards. After visiting Arlington National Cemetery, the group went on to the National Museum of the American Indian and had lunch at the Museum’s Mitsitam Café.
A historical note worth mentioning is that on Veterans Day this year the National Museum of the American Indian hosted a formal dedication and celebration of the National Native American Veterans Memorial. Other sacred places visited by the Region 8 group included the World War II Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, and the Military Women’s Memorial Museum. I want to thank Steve Holland for his guidance in writing this report.
Father Time has taken the year 2022 away and the baby New Year of 2023 has arrived.
Last year, we saw many things that had been turned upside down by the pandemic return to fairly normal levels. There were increased face-to-face meetings by state councils and chapters. The Veteran came back as a print magazine. By the second quarter of 2021, we saw regional, state council, and chapter meetings and conferences being held in-person with proper precautions.
Membership numbers started coming up as we were approaching the 90,000-member mark in December. Our National Leadership & Education Conference was held with some 300 members attending. There will be a VVA National Convention in Orlando in August, for which there is great anticipation. And it is clear that Vietnam Veterans of America is coming back from the pandemic stronger than ever.
Last year, I was privileged to attend state council meetings in six states, but I couldn’t attend meetings in Hawaii, the Philippines, or Guam because they are still dealing with travel restrictions. I hope we will see those restrictions lifted in 2023. Three National Board meetings were held in Silver Spring in 2022. State council presidents in Region 9 have been attending those meetings.
Chapters and state councils in Region 9 continue to increase their numbers, and while some chapters closed due to declining numbers and the lack of leadership, other new chapters are forming and growing.
I will continue to advocate for Region 9 veterans and their families as I attend state council, chapter, and national meetings.
Stay safe, stay well, and check on your buddies. Get back in the habit of attending meetings and renewing efforts to recruit new members.
In the meantime, I am available by e-mail. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
I n 2022, with our mission in mind, VVA’s leadership made an enthusiastic move to celebrate Veterans Day with a Massing of the Colors of VVA Color Guards from across the country at the official ceremonies at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.
One thing remains true regardless of which individuals lead the organization: It is up to the members to support, encourage, question, and allow the leadership to guide VVA onward. Being proud of an organization means working in tandem with those from the top to the bottom of the hierarchy and balancing all committee initiatives and programs to insure that veterans are respected, remembered, honored, and cared for.
In 2019 the two Working Groups studying VVA’s future presented their findings to delegates at the National Convention. Since then, global and national events keep popping up, and seemed to deflect from what is right in front of our eyes. The VVA Board is the highest authority and has a fiduciary duty and obligation to act in the best interest of the organization, and at the best time. Delaying executing Working Group I’s plan only weakens the organization.
Getting closer to the 2023 Convention would be a perfect time to roll out the start of the Plan to the membership and apply judgment based on what we know today and not worry about the what ifs. No one was promised that this decision would be easy, and this most likely will be one of the most difficult tasks that remains to be taken by Vietnam Veterans of America.
Thank you for your support. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, feel free to email me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 712-314-1808.
Publisher’s note: In the President’s Message and in the Vice President’s report of this edition of The VVA Veteran, it has been articulated that numerous activities have been ongoing to address the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Dissolution, which was formally accepted by the National Board of Directors on April 23, 2022. The elected officers have been diligently working with key individuals such as professional staff, our VVA funding partners, and other adjunct service organizations to receive their input for a logical direction for implementation of that plan. The timeline projected to present to the National Board of Directors is prior to the April 2023 meeting for the presentation to the National Convention delegates in August.
Another year has come to an end, and it was somewhat successful with the passage of the PACT Act and some clarification of the Blue Water Navy Act. We still must work to make sure veterans, issues are addressed by Congress.
This year was the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Veterans Day program at The Wall was a success, even with the remnants of Hurricane Nicole threatening to put it on hold. Fortunately, the weather held off for the commemoration. It seems like only yesterday that I was at the 25th anniversary event; I guess that means that we are aging faster than we think.
2023 will be bringing us the National Convention in Orlando, Florida, where we will elect Officers and Board members for the next two years. With that in mind, we need to consider the future of VVA. Both Working Groups presented their findings at the 2019 Convention in Spokane. It is imperative that we review those documents and think more about our future.
With the National Convention coming, all state councils and chapters need to make sure that their Election and Finance Reports are submitted on time in order to have their delegates seated at the Convention.
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