BY JOHN ROWAN
On behalf of the officers and the newly elected Board of
Directors, I want to thank all of the delegates who attended
the National Convention for their support. In our first
term the officers spent a fair amount of time analyzing
headquarters operations, which resulted in a few changes.
This, among other things, positively affected our revenue
stream. As we enter our second term, we hope to make more
We also want to thank all of the staff
who made this Convention one of our finest and quickest.
Apparently, we have very little left to change in our Constitution,
which was created at our Founding Convention in 1983. Also,
while unfortunately many of our existing resolutions are
still relevant, there are very few new issues. Sadly, many
of the issues that plagued us as Vietnam veterans are pertinent
to the newest generation of veterans and still require
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Sometimes, when you get tired, you wonder why we do what
we do. Then something happens to remind you. While sitting
in the St. Louis airport waiting for our plane to go home,
I ran into an old friend, Tim Driscoll, who was taking the
same flight. Tim had been involved in the very beginnings
of VVA, when he was an attorney working for then-New York
Gov. Hugh Carey. When I asked him what he was doing in Missouri,
he told me a heartening story.
Tim served in Vietnam with the
HHC 39th Combat Engineers in Chu Lai. Their job was protecting
the airfield and keeping open the highway known as “The
Street Without Joy.” On
August 8, 1968, Tim’s best friend in the Army, Jim
Leahy, was killed when his Jeep hit a landmine. Tim wrote
a note to Jim’s parents, and on the way home to Brooklyn
in November 1968, he stopped in Madison, Missouri, to see
them. He has kept in touch with the family ever since.
Tim says, “I could not mourn for everyone who died,
but I could concentrate on the family I knew.” Each
year he called the parents on New Year’s and Memorial
Day. They’re gone now, but Tim has kept in touch with
Jim’s sisters and nephews and niece. He is the pinch-hit
uncle attending all of their weddings. He was in Missouri
attending the wedding of the last nephew, Matt Boebel, when
we met. Not all of us can do what Tim has done. But the memory
of those we lost is one of the things that keeps us going.
LOVE A PARADE
This is the last issue of The VVA Veteran before the Parade
celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Wall on November
10. Again, I urge you to come to Washington, D.C., that weekend
for what is shaping up to be a wonderful event. This Parade
may be the last opportunity for Vietnam veterans to gather.
Besides the Parade, there are plans in the works for a major
concert on the Mall afterwards. Keep your eye out for further
Of course, we also will join the Vietnam Veterans
Memorial Fund for its regular Veterans Day services at The
Wall. If you need help with your travel arrangements, whether
for a couple, a chapter, or an entire organization, go to
www.vva.org and click on the 25th Anniversary icon for more
details. If you know any corporations that might be interested
in becoming sponsors for the parade, please let us know.
Sponsorship information is also on the website.
As part of the commemoration, VVA is publishing a book
just for the 25th Anniversary. This keepsake is something
everyone will want to have. Again, go to www.vva.org for
more information or check out the ad in this issue.
Previously, I mentioned that we were reaching out to the
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the USA. The Elks
have agreed to partner with VVA through the Vietnam Veterans
Assistance Fund in our new coin can donation program, which
has been named “The Michael Manning National Veterans
Program,” after the long-time Director of the Elks’ National
Veterans Service Department who died July 22. Mike Manning
had worked with VVA in setting up the program, which will
feature coin cans in every Elks lodge and other locations.
On behalf of all the members of VVA, I want to thank the
Elks, and especially their Grand Exalted Ruler, F. Louis
Sulsberger, for making this wonderful program happen. If
you are an Elk, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
to see many of you at the Parade.