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September/October 2023 -   -  

An Overwhelming Response   


I never thought that we would get the level of feedback we received to what I wrote about mandatory National Service in this column in the July/August issue. It might be the highest response to any subject I’ve previously discussed. Thanks to everyone who responded either directly to me or through Letters to the Editor.

The response added several issues to the dialogue: First, former national VVA BOD member and California State Council president Jim Doyle reminded us that National Service has historically been an important issue in VVA. As he pointed out, VVA “has a long-standing position on national service spelled out in the VVA Constitution’s Declaration of Principles.”

In the first section of the Constitution, which was adopted in 1983, the organization resolves that “a sacred and binding contract exists between governors and governed, with the latter recognizing an obligation of compulsory foreign or domestic service equitably shared by all, and the former morally obligated to implement foreign and domestic policies that are clear, consistent, and reflective of the will of the people.”

Second, I learned that there had been a recent National Commission on Military, National and Public Service authorized and funded by law. It wound up spending tens of millions of dollars and came up with a 245-page report with recommendations. I suspect that report is likely just gathering dust on decisionmakers’ bookshelves in Washington.

Third, we need to determine exactly how VVA members feel about this crucial issue before we begin to do any advocacy work.

Dennis Howland, the chair of the VVA Public Affairs Committee, is prepared and enthused to oversee a professional survey that would clarify VVA’s official position for civic engagement.

Lastly, VVA should be prepared to assume the long-term leadership position on this issue as it could be our final statement to American society. As many of you told me at the National Convention in Orlando, we cannot fade away before addressing the moral and cultural issues critical to the nation’s future generations.

President Jack McManus presented the VVA Commendation Medal, the organization's highest honor, to longtime VVA Elections Committee member Adolph Gardner during the National Convention's Closing Ceremonies on Saturday, August 12, in Orlando.
VVA's New General Manager

At the Convention in Orlando the delegates and those who watched the Facebook livestream online had the opportunity to hear from Phil Waite, our new Managing Director. With responsibility for overseeing VVA headquarters operations in Silver Spring and at the Convention, Phil Waite had his baptism under fire in Orlando. Among other things, we had a week of record-breaking temperatures and more than a few technical challenges, including sound system glitches, air conditioning outages, and missing office copiers and printers. With great support from our seasoned National staff, he was able to overcome and find solutions and the show managed to go forward.




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Geoffrey Clifford Mark F. Erickson Chuck Forsman