BY ELAINE SIMMONS, PRESIDENT
It is hard to believe, but AVVA is celebrating its tenth anniversary. It seems like only yesterday when the VVA State Associate Liaisons, Regional Associate Liaisons, and the National Associate Liaison were called together in Orlando, Florida, to form a new organization. We worked very hard that weekend in January 1999; through it all, we stayed on task and the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc., was born.
During that long, unseasonably cold weekend we developed a mission, elected interim Officers and a Board of Directors, approved a logo, agreed on the motto of “Together Always,” and created bylaws. Many were unsure and skeptical about our success. We were blessed with the guidance and support of the VVA National Officers, Board of Directors, and the many VVA members across the country who stood by and encouraged us.
As I think back to those very early days, I remember the energy, drive, and enthusiasm we all shared. Our founding President, Nancy Switzer, never waivered in her belief that we could and would make this work.
The first Board of Directors meeting of Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America was held in April 1999, and it was there that the interim members of the Board and officers were appointed to chair committees and the IRS paperwork was completed and submitted for approval as a non-profit, tax-exempt, and tax-deductible adjunct organization to Vietnam Veterans of America.
In August 1999 at its ninth National Convention, VVA removed all references to “Associate Members” from its Constitution and AVVA became the independent organization it is today.
Many changes have taken place in this first ten years. We have been through some good times and sad times, gained new members, and lost beloved friends, but through it all we have maintained our original mission and motto: “Together Always.” As we begin 2009, I want to invite our members to join us in a celebration in Louisville, July 27-August 2. I hope that everyone who has worked so hard to make us a success will come and join us as we begin our next ten years.