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September/October Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / Letters / President's Message / VVAF Report / Government Relations / Ask The Parliamentarian / Veterans Benefits Update / Membership Affairs Committee Report / Legislators View / ETABO Committee Report / PTSD Substance Abuse Comittee Report / TAPS / Region 7 Report / AVVA Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / VetsConnect Report / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report / Women Veterans Committee Report / Arts of War / Book Review / Membership Notes / Chapter of The Year / Locator / Reunions

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PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE

BY JOHN ROWAN

VVA and AVVA’s version of summer camp, better known as VVA’s Leadership Conference and AVVA’s National Convention, is over. For those who were able to attend, a good time was had by all. Whether it was the parachute drop, the ugly Hawaiian shirt contest (I won), the golf tournament, or just hanging out in the pool, the participants had a great time. But all was not fun and games.

The speakers at the opening ceremony were stirring; the seminars were informative; and the AVVA members elected their officers for the coming two years. Mary Miller returns as President, as does Sonja Holybee as Treasurer. Elaine Simmons was elected Vice President and Patsy Varnell, Secretary. Congratulations and best wishes to all. We look forward to continuing our joint efforts on behalf of veterans and their families.

Aside from the seminars, there were some special events and announcements. Garry Trudeau, the creator of the cartoon Doonesbury, received the President’s Award for Excellence in the Arts. His cartoon character “B.D.,” a Vietnam veteran who stayed in the Guard, got wounded in Iraq, and is depicted as he goes through rehab at Walter Reed and deals with his PTSD at a Vet Center, was made an honorary life member.

Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet military who served in Vietnam, advising the North on how to use SAM missiles, provided us with information taken from their Air Defense University’s archives about shoot-downs of American aircraft. This information has been passed on to our government. We hope that this will be the first of many transfers of information—the direct result of our continued efforts through the Veterans Initiative.

Meeting with the Ukrainians was particularly moving for me because my job in the Air Force was to identify them and target them for elimination. When one of the veterans noted how successful we were in 1967 when I was there, and how they were able to learn from their mistakes during the bombing halt in 1968, which resulted in much higher American losses, I must admit I lost it for a bit.

On a more positive note, we announced that VVA has entered into a working agreement with the National Association of County Veteran Service Officers. This partnership will give us a significant increase in coverage across the country. This will enable our members and all veterans to get the help they need filing their claims. It will eventually require us to provide more resources for our appeals program, which leads me to Broadway to Baghdad. This event, which is detailed in an ad on p. 32, is a fund-raiser for our Service Representative program. Any help you can provide in making this event a success would be greatly appreciated.

Also introduced were the leaders of a new organization, Veterans of Modern Warfare. VMW is an outgrowth of the Gulf War Resource Center, which VVA has supported for several years. This organization will be open to everyone who has served since August 2, 1990. The president is Julie Mock, a Persian Gulf veteran from Seattle.

At our Convention in Reno, it was agreed that we would support a new organization in lieu of letting more recent veterans into VVA. VMW is that organization. We will be reaching out to our chapters to help the leadership of VMW establish chapters of their own. VMW plans to hold its first National Convention in 2008, when elections will be held for all officers. They have based their Constitution on VVA’s and look to us for guidance. We hope to help them organize. When this happens, there will be a veterans’ organization that can pick up where we leave off—when we fade away like all good soldiers.

After all the activities were over, Mariann and I and four of our friends drove to Santa Fe for a little R&R. This gave us an opportunity to stop in Las Cruces and meet with Ken Daby, the VVA New Mexico State Council President, and some of the local VVA members. New Mexico provides some excellent benefits for their veterans and the VVA State Council operates a Veterans Information, Resource, and Referral Office in Las Cruces that deals with a lot of transient veterans.

This trip also gave us an opportunity to visit the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial in Angel Fire, an awesome site in an incredible location. I urge all of you to try to get there some time. It is right up there with The Wall.

Our never-ending struggle is always brought home when we learn of another loss. A stalwart warrior for his fellow veterans, Dean Reynolds of Dallas passed away after a long fight. He was joined at the last call by Mike Flowers from Toledo, Ohio, one of the founding members of VVA’s Board of Directors. We must honor their memory by continuing the battle for their cause—justice for all veterans.

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