BY JERRY KLEIN AND KEITH KING
Turmoil, misunderstandings and bruised feelings between the members of VVA and the Veterans Support Foundation required immediate action to insure that a productive working relationship between the two organizations be established. At the October 2009 VVA Board of Directors meeting, VVA President John Rowan appointed a working group to resolve the issue.
On December 5, in Silver Spring, Maryland, members of VVA’s Veterans Benefits Committee, representatives of VSF, two representatives of the Conference of State Council Presidents, and a moderator—VVA National Board member Marsha Four—met all day to iron out differences. The results of the meeting established a new cooperative framework. The give and take during the meeting and the willingness to compromise on areas of disagreement will go a long way to solidify cooperation between VVA and VSF.
What became clear is the need to support VSF’s fundraising efforts. VSF has lost almost two-thirds of its funding from its peak CFC contributions. It simply makes sense for VVA to support the VSF CFC efforts because that is the money that the VSF uses to support VVA’s service officer program.
VVA has committed to helping VSF. We hope that every State Council and Chapter will step up and take a few hours to attend a CFC event in their area. The VSF will post CFC meetings and information on its web site, www.vsf-usa.org and on VVA’s site, www.vva.org in the near future.
The service officer program has been the backbone of VVA since 1985 when we conducted our first training programs. The program was a key element in getting our congressional charter. As a certified veterans’ service organization, we share an equal status with the other national veterans’ groups. We have helped tens of thousands of veterans and secured millions of dollars in benefits. All of the success we have had in the legislative arena on PTSD, Agent Orange, diabetes, and other medical issues comes full circle with our service officers winning claims. It is part of our legacy and something we should all be proud of.
We are aware that our time is growing short and that we need to teach the next generation of veterans and have them involved in our service officer training program. To do that, we need to reach out to younger veterans and we need the money the VSF provides. We were reminded in our meeting why VSF changed its name from the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund.
Most of the Vietnam veterans in the federal government are facing retirement. The fact is that Vietnam veterans did not score well among donors. So, for its own survival, and knowing that it would take a few years to get a new name known to the next generation of donors, we changed the name to the Veterans Support Foundation. The VSF has pledged to continue to support the VVA service officer program. Now VVA needs to pledge to support the VSF. After all, they are us.