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Directors’ Reports, July/August 2023 -   -  

Greetings, brothers and sisters. The VVA National Convention in August will be one of the most important Conventions since the formation of VVA in 1978 and our Founding Convention in 1983.

Time has passed quickly and now we are entering our home stretch. At this Convention the membership will be asked to consider several resolutions approved by the Board of Directors at a special meeting in April. They direct the Board to act on the requirements to bring about an orderly, legal dissolution of the organization. This is an urgent task. If you haven’t already done so, please send in your delegate registration form and room reservation.

Hank Morris of Chapter 65 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, sent a report on the chapter’s ceremony to honor the 27 veterans from Pittsfield who died in Vietnam. It was a moving event and well attended.

I have decided not to run for reelection as Region 1 director. It seems father time is winning his race with me, and health is becoming an impediment to my work.

Justin Latini, the Massachusetts State Council secretary, has agreed to run for the office.

It has been an honor to be part of VVA since 1983 and working my way up from chapter president and state council president to regional director. I have met many fine brothers and sisters dedicated to our cause. VVA has been blessed to have so many hard-working and talented people willing to step forward to lead this organization, and I am honored to have been among you. I look forward to seeing you all in Orlando.

I hope all of our members took the time to reflect on a fallen service member on Memorial Day.

As the Fourth of July approaches, veterans should also remember the Declaration of Independence and what it stands for. We veterans have fought for this country and continue to try to keep it a safe place for ourselves and for all of our families. Stop and think about the role fallen service members have played in the freedoms we enjoy today.

We, in Region 3, are preparing for the VVA National Convention in Orlando. Many Region 3 delegates will be there to take part in the approval process of proposed Constitutional Amendments and Resolutions that will come to the floor, and in the elections process as well.

In closing, the seven states of the Region say hello, and we look forward to seeing all the delegates at the Convention.

Region 5 will be holding their caucuses on August 9th and 10th in the Salon 5/6. As of this date we have 15 candidates who will be speaking on the 9th. Each candidate will be given five minutes to speak and answer questions. The delegates will have five minutes to discuss each candidate before the next one comes in.

On June 10th and 11th, I was at the Illinois State Council meeting. I was not able to attend the Buckeye State Council meeting on June 16th and 17th. Assistant R5 Director Fred Barks attended the meeting in my place.

See everyone at the Convention.

It was great getting to see everyone who came to the Region 6 Conference in Iowa. We hadn’t met in person since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The morning started off with VVA Vice President Tom Burke giving an excellent presentation on the Strategic Plan for Dissolution and the future of VVA. A good question-and-answer period followed that presentation.

AVVA Region 6 Director Barbara Coan then gave a presentation on several AVVA programs and distributed a packet with AVVA’s brochures on a variety of topics.

I also had her run a silent auction on items that members brought to the conference to raise money for AVVA’s Project Friendship recipient, The National Birth Defect Registry. We raised nearly $400.

During lunch, attendees toured the Iowa Gold Star Museum at Camp Dodge in Johnston, Iowa. It was fascinating to see their amazing collection of military artifacts.

After lunch, we had an excellent presentation on veterans suicide led by Tom Hall, who chairs VVA’s PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee. It was very informative and reminded all of us to be aware of mental health problems that our brothers and sisters might be having, and to get them the help they need.

A special thanks to Iowa State Council President Greg Paulline for the hard work he put into setting up the conference.

Hope to see many of you at the National Convention. The agenda will be packed, and important decisions on the future of VVA will be made.

In writing the last Region 8 report before the 2023 National Convention in Orlando I am moved and honored as I reflect on the many great things that our Region has accomplished. Just as important to me are the many old and new friends I have had the privilege of meeting and working with.

There is no lack of enthusiasm, commitment, or can-do attitude in our Region. In fact, the comment that I hear most often is that time is the only factor that will keep us from providing needed services to veterans. There is much pride in Region 8, especially when we put what we have done in a historical perspective and realize the impact we have made in our local and state communities and at the national level.

As Vietnam veterans we have been part of this extraordinary story, and I can proudly say that the last page is a long way from being written. Region 8 strongly believes in what we do because we feel it is our responsibility and our obligation to honorably and proudly serve the veterans community.

From March 24-25, we had the Washington State Council meeting at the Yakama Warriors Association Building in Toppenish. We were honored with the presence of VVA President Jack McManus. Saturday afternoon we joined the Yakama Warriors Association as we attended the Welcome Home Vietnam War Veterans Day where all Vietnam veterans were honored with a commemorative jacket.

VVA will be participating in the Ocean Shores, Washington, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Traveling Wall and the annual Flag Day Parade on June 15-18. We are also preparing for Ande Mitchell’s annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event on August 5.

On March 28-29, I joined VVA Alaska President Craig Wade in Wasilla to attend their Welcome Home Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremonies. It was a well-attended program with proclamations from the mayor and other local and state representatives. The temperature was in the 20-degree range with ice and snow, so my presentation was the shortest I have ever given.

In early April I attended the California State Council meeting in Visalia. It was also a well-attended and impressive meeting, presided over by SC President Allan Cook. I was also there to meet with Region 9 Director Dick Southern to coordinate our June 27-29 Region 8/9 Pre-Conference at the Silver Legacy in Reno, Nevada.

On April 14-15, I attended the Oregon State Council meeting in Lebanon. A great deal of business was dealt with and decisions were made, including the number of delegates that will be attending the National Convention.

The Montana State Council meeting took place the following weekend. Attendance was good, and President Chuck Renevier and Beverly Stewart explained the National Board dissolution plan, which will be brought before the delegates at the Convention.

On May 2, I participated in a Zoom meeting with President Vern Peterson and the Idaho State Council. It was a good meeting, with much discussion and decision-making.

Region 8 looks forward to seeing old friends and making new ones at our Pre-Convention in Reno and at the National Convention in Orlando. We are also prepared to support and do what is right for local chapters, states, and the region, and what is right for the future of all of Vietnam Veterans of America. Peace.

Region 9 continues to see increases in membership every month. I believe this trend will continue into the future. As a national organization, we now have more than 90,000 members.

I am working to encourage more Region 9 state councils, along with their chapters, to attend all of the VVA events and functions that they can. In June, the Region 8 and 9 directors held a successful conference in Reno. We are all looking forward to the VVA National Convention in Orlando. The delegates will be voting on Constitutional Amendments and Resolutions that will take VVA into the future.

Since chapter elections took place in April, don’t forget to send in elections and finance reports to VVA National and to your state council so that your delegates can be seated at the Convention.

One of my goals is to have each state council in Region 9 increase the number of chapters in their state. Stronger state councils insure that VVA will continue to help veterans and their families get the benefits they deserve. A higher number of members also helps to persuade Congress to pass legislation that benefits veterans and their families.

I will continue to advocate for Region 9 veterans and their families. I pray that you all stay safe and well and check on your buddies. Get back in the habit of attending meetings and recruiting new members. In the meantime, I am available by e-mail. Contact me at dsouthern@vva.org with any questions or concerns.




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