John Rowan

President

It is hard to believe that I have had the privilege of serving as your President for twelve years. I want to thank all the members, Chapters, State Councils and the Regional and At-Large Directors for having faith in me over these years. In particular I want to thank my fellow officers for their continued support. They have each taken on certain areas of responsibility that have made my job easier.

Of course I cannot commend the staff enough for their work on behalf of our members and all veterans and their families.

The VVA Veteran is an award-winning newspaper thanks to the peerless staff for which we are very proud.

Our Membership Department has gone through changes, but we believe that the good work of our consultants, our staff, along with our Membership Affairs Committee will continue to make more improvements as we enter the technological age.

Our Government Affairs Department has no peer. After several years of advocating, last year we finally saw aspects of the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016, which will begin the efforts to get research into the effects of toxic substances on veterans’ children. Next we will introduce the Toxic Wounds Act of 2017, which continues the work of the Agent Orange Act of 1991, expanding it to include the veterans of the Persian Gulf War and Iraq and Afghanistan. I particularly want to thank Rick Weidman who received a Lifetime Achievement Award from his peers in D.C. Our lobbying effort was enhanced by our Chapters and State Council both in D.C. and at home.

The Finance Department, the Administration Department, the IT staff, and our Household Goods Program also keep our organization running efficiently. I want to thank them for their efforts.

The Veterans Benefits Department has been struggling with the changes that have gone on in the VA as well as VVA. Thankfully our new Director Ms. Kelsey Yoon is up to the task.

Our Communications Department has brought us into the digital era with Facebook, Twitter and other outlets, while getting our message out to the print and video media.

The Veterans Health Council and its website, www.veteranshealth.org has been a great success, which we hope will be enhanced with a new 501(c)(3) to help us raise funds.

I thank all of the members, Chapters, and State Councils for all the hard work you do on behalf of our veterans and our families. You make us look good and give us the authority to work on your behalf in Congress and the VA.

I thank you for your support and hope that you will allow me to continue to serve you as your President.

Marsha Four

Vice President

Lately it seems we all begin to look back over our lives on a more regular basis. At least I find that’s true for me. As a life member, I joined Vietnam Veterans of America in 1987, and like many of you, my life has never been the same. This change crept silently into my life as I became slowly more involved with my chapter, 67, in Delaware County, Pa. My first venture outside the chapter was as a delegate to the 1989 National Convention in Chicago. Overwhelmed, energized, and intrigued by the work that was being done for veterans, I plunged into the fray and haven’t looked back since. I became a delegate to my state council and a chapter officer. In 1992 I traveled to all the National Board meetings, becoming a member of various committees. I served as a Director-at-Large on the National Board from 1999 to 2013. I have written and delivered congressional testimony, given presentations, held workshops, served twice as VVA’s representative on the VA Advisory Committee for Women Veterans, and currently serve on the American Academy of Nursing’s Veterans Committee. In 2013 I was selected by the White House as a champion of Change for Women Veterans.

For seventeen years I was employed by the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service & Education Center, a nonprofit organization that works exclusively with veterans. In 2013 I retired as its Executive Director, which allowed me to commit more time to VVA. I was fortunate to be elected as National Vice President in 2013 and reelected in 2015.

Some of my VP duties include: liaison to the national office staff and the National AVVA, chair of a Strategic Working Group (2014-2016), and chair to the national committee of chairs. I meet with VA leadership; actively assist with legislative advocacy; contribute to congressional hearings; and work with other organizations to increase membership and outreach to veterans. I regularly travel to the national office, holding full staff and department director meetings as well as providing staff development presentations and enhanced inter-departmental communication. In February I traveled to Vietnam with the Veterans Initiative Program, representing VVA at meetings with officials and veterans from Hanoi down to Ho Chi Minh City.

I believe that integrity, balance, and trust are essential ingredients for a strong and responsive leadership. These elements invite healthy, thought-provoking dialogue, vital to providing strength to the organization, committee and department functions, and ultimately our membership, to whom we are responsible. I believe there is much I can continue to contribute to our national organization. I ask that you review my credentials and determine my strengths as a capable candidate for the office of Vice President and that you will again consider giving your support to my re-election. Much remains to be done and many rely on us to do it.

I reside in Springfield, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia, and am married to Tony, who I met and served with in Vietnam. We have three grown sons and six grandchildren.

Bill Meeks

Secretary

As your elected National Secretary since August 2011, I have insured that a draft of all National Board of Directors meeting minutes has been distributed within three to five days after each meeting. In an effort to make our membership more aware of upcoming VVA business I have prepared the National meeting agendas and provide these on a regular basis prior to the meeting date. With the creation of the VVA BOD Motions and Policies Reference Guides, which are posted on the VVA website, our membership has a better understanding of what policies and motions are in place for the National Board of Directors to conduct VVA business properly.

By posting all of the approved National Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from 2013 to present on the VVA website, I have made each member aware of what VVA business took place during these meetings, and this move has provided easy access for members to get a better understanding of VVA National’s operation. The VVA Secretary Notification of BOD Action Form has provided a record that the VVA Membership Department uses to notify chapter members of a National BOD action, that the database has been documented to show chapter revocation or voluntary disclosure of chapters, and provide a record of this action to the regional director and the state council.

After the 2015 VVA National Convention I drafted the first Convention minutes to my knowledge, other than Convention recordings taken by the VVA staff, to document the VVA business undertaken during the entire Convention. These minutes are posted to the VVA website. Recently I was part of the work group that revised the VVA National Disciplinary Policy, and I continue to be a special advisor to the VVA Membership Affairs Committee. I continue to serve for my chapter as the Secretary and Editor of the chapter newsletter. I continue to chair the Constitution & Bylaws Committee for the VVA Texas State Council, and I have not missed a state council meeting since 1994.

I served with the Marine Corps as a platoon radioman for Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 27th Marines in 1968 in I Corps in Vietnam. Since joining VVA in 1992 I have held numerous elected or appointed positions at the chapter, state council, and national levels. I am married to Suzie. We have three children, eight granddaughters, one grandson, and two great-grandchildren. I am employed by Van De Wiele & Vogler Engineering in Houston, Texas, for the last twenty-seven+ years. I have been fortunate enough to be recognized as the VVA Member of the Year in 1999. I have received the VVA Achievement Medal and the VVA Commendation Medal for my endeavors for VVA.

I will continue to work with our membership to improve communication, the distribution of correspondence from VVA National, and provide timely responses to our membership. I would appreciate your vote for Secretary at the upcoming Convention in N’awlins!

As your elected National Secretary since August 2011, I have insured that a draft of all National Board of Directors meeting minutes has been distributed within three to five days after each meeting. In an effort to make our membership more aware of upcoming VVA business I have prepared the National meeting agendas and provide these on a regular basis prior to the meeting date. With the creation of the VVA BOD Motions and Policies Reference Guides, which are posted on the VVA website, our membership has a better understanding of what policies and motions are in place for the National Board of Directors to conduct VVA business properly.

By posting all of the approved National Board of Directors Meeting Minutes from 2013 to present on the VVA website, I have made each member aware of what VVA business took place during these meetings, and this move has provided easy access for members to get a better understanding of VVA National’s operation. The VVA Secretary Notification of BOD Action Form has provided a record that the VVA Membership Department uses to notify chapter members of a National BOD action, that the database has been documented to show chapter revocation or voluntary disclosure of chapters, and provide a record of this action to the regional director and the state council.

After the 2015 VVA National Convention I drafted the first Convention minutes to my knowledge, other than Convention recordings taken by the VVA staff, to document the VVA business undertaken during the entire Convention. These minutes are posted to the VVA website. Recently I was part of the work group that revised the VVA National Disciplinary Policy, and I continue to be a special advisor to the VVA Membership Affairs Committee. I continue to serve for my chapter as the Secretary and Editor of the chapter newsletter. I continue to chair the Constitution & Bylaws Committee for the VVA Texas State Council, and I have not missed a state council meeting since 1994.

I served with the Marine Corps as a platoon radioman for Bravo Company, 1st Bn., 27th Marines in 1968 in I Corps in Vietnam. Since joining VVA in 1992 I have held numerous elected or appointed positions at the chapter, state council, and national levels. I am married to Suzie. We have three children, eight granddaughters, one grandson, and two great-grandchildren. I am employed by Van De Wiele & Vogler Engineering in Houston, Texas, for the last twenty-seven+ years. I have been fortunate enough to be recognized as the VVA Member of the Year in 1999. I have received the VVA Achievement Medal and the VVA Commendation Medal for my endeavors for VVA.

I will continue to work with our membership to improve communication, the distribution of correspondence from VVA National, and provide timely responses to our membership. I would appreciate your vote for Secretary at the upcoming Convention in N’awlins!

Wayne Reynolds

Treasurer

I am running for re-election as National Treasurer because I want to continue the progress we have made in improving our financial management. I am a proven leader who can work with all levels of VVA and AVVA. I promised to make VVA’s finances transparent and, with the help of the Finance Committee, we have accomplished that. Now I am asking for your support so I can continue to work with everyone to achieve VVA’s goals.

This has been a very busy two years. I have met with the contractor who supplies ads for The VVA Veteran. As a result, we are receiving more revenue for fewer ads (which leaves more space for content), and the Editor remains in control of advertising content. Our contract for implementation of the iMIS software, which VVA purchased, has continued to improve our membership and financial operations. As Compliance Officer, I review our contracts to ensure that we are receiving cost-effective services.

I provide oversight for our Information Technology and Finance Departments. We have streamlined financial reporting to make it more understandable and to reflect actual expenditures.

I have also been active in using my contacts in Congress to promote legislation that will assist veterans. The Veterans Benefits, Veterans Health Council, and Agent Orange commitment from VVA has increased, and I have been an active congressional lobbyist for VVA and our successful Toxic Substances Legislation. We have increased VVA’s financial commitment to a wide range of areas serving all veterans.

I have been able to assist Regional Directors and State Council Presidents by making presentations at their meetings. I am available to assist at all levels of VVA.

VVA SERVICE: Life Member of VVA. I served three years as President of Chapter 511 and have been Alabama State Council President for nineteen years. I was also the National Treasurer from 2001 to 2003 and from 2011 until the present. I have served on the following National VVA Committees: Finance, Public Affairs, Veterans Healthcare, PTSD and Substance Abuse, and Constitution. I also am a former Secretary of the Conference of State Council Presidents. As a member of the Board of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund for four years, I assisted in raising funds for the Service Officer Program and other projects.

MILITARY SERVICE: I served in Vietnam with the 95th Evacuation Hospital and 22nd Surgical Hospital in 1968-69.

EDUCATION AND EMPLOYMENT: I hold a Master’s Degree in Finance from the University of Georgia and a Doctor of Education Degree from Auburn University. I am a retired Public School Superintendent and currently am a Registered Nurse. For the past eighteen years I have been the owner and CEO of a government contract consulting business.

PERSONAL LIFE: I am the oldest of twelve children and my father was a World War II and Korean War veteran. I have been married to Carol Reynolds for forty-seven years and we have two children. Paige is a DOD Engineer and Wesley is a Neurologist and former Major in the Air Force. We have two grandchildren.

Dottie Barickman

At-Large Director

My Mission Statement: “My highest priority and commitment is to ensure that the veterans who served for us will be served by us.”

VVA National Level: 2015-2017 National At-Large Board of Director. Member of the Finance, Constitution, Women Veterans, Legislative, and PTSD Committees.

VVA Conference of State Council Presidents: Held positions as 1st Vice Chair and Chair of the Political Action Committee.

VVA Region 6: Alternate Region 6 Director.

VVA Nebraska State Council: President and Delegate for Chapter 279.

VVA Chapter 279: Vice President and Secretary.

VVA Member: Since 1987.

Board of Director 2015-2017 Accomplishments: Instrumental with providing input on BOD orientation topics, instrumental in requesting reporting on all Committee Chair Luncheon meeting discussions, was a member and spokesperson for a Committee Chair to draft a Directors Handbook; and the Handbook was approved at the April 2017 Board meeting. Wrote articles for The VVA Veteran on a regular basis, advocated for the Toxic Exposure Act, and continued with insuring transparency within Vietnam Veterans of America.

Other organizations: Held positions as alternate to Nebraska Veterans Home Board, Nebraska Veterans Council and Governor’s Round Table.

Events and functions: Facilitated play “A Piece of My Heart” in Omaha, Nebraska, and at Women in Military Service Association in Washington, D.C. Partnership with the Vietnam War 50th Commemoration, Offutt Air Force Base Open House committee, VVA Region 6 workshops host, keynote speaker for veterans events, advisor for veterans projects, and testified for Nebraska Veterans Legislative Bills.

Education: Northwest Mississippi Junior College and Memphis State University.

Jake Barsottini

At-Large Director

Born in Beaver Falls, Pa. Married to Pamela Patterson, September 23, 1995. Two children and one step-son: Sherry Ardelji, age 44; Joseph Barsottini, age 42; and Travis Patterson, age 33. Three grandchildren: Madysen Ardelji, Angelo Barsottini, and Isabella Barsottini.

Enlisted delayed entry USAF May 1970 and Active Duty Aug 11, 1971. Primary ASFC Comptroller – Accounting & Finance 67299, Secondary AFSC Security Police Law Enforcement W81172. Graduated CCAF, AAS Finance & Accounting, BS Human Resource Mgt., MBA Finance & Business Law.  Graduated NCO and Sr NCO Academy.

Major Decorations include three AF Meritorious Service Medals, two AF Commendation Medals, and the AF Achievement Medal. Awards include Wing and Strategic Air Command Airman of the Year. Retired from the USAF, Sept. 1, 1991, Grissom AFB IN as Deputy Accounting & Finance Officer and Comptroller Superintendent. Overseas Assignments: Served TDY with 16th Special Operations Command in Ubon, Thailand, 1972-73, Panama 1989-90, Desert Shield/Desert Storm 1990-91.

Currently serving as President of the Pennsylvania Veterans Assistance Fund, Inc., Treasurer VVA Pennsylvania State Council and VVA Chapter 862, Member VVA National Finance Committee, VVA National Panel A. BOD Veterans Health Council of America, Inc. Life member of VVA, DAV, VFW, and American Legion. Retired, EmplyShare, Inc., 1/31/2011, as VP and COO.

I will bring business and nonprofit experience to the already excellent VVA organization. I will work for our membership as part of a strong BOD team. I am truly committed to our motto, “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.”

Richard A. Carman

At-Large Director

Military Service: USAF 1972 to 1987.

Life Member of VVA and a member since 1989.

Qualifications:

Served at various levels within the Chapter and as the Chapter representative/delegate to the State Council. I am currently the President of VVA Chapter 1098 in Lake Charles, La.

Served on the VVA National Veteran Benefits Committee (VBC) for the last five years at no cost to VVA.

Served on the VBC Strategic Planning Subcommittee where I helped to write procedures for shutting down a VVA Service Office or Program.

I served on the VBC Audit Team.

I currently serve on the VBC Grievance Subcommittee.

I have been an accredited VVA Veterans Service Officer since 2008. I have served as the Chief Service Officer for the VVA Washington State Council and am presently the Chief Service Officer for the VVA Louisiana State Council.

Goals:

I am hoping to be able to serve VVA as a Board of Director At-Large, where I feel my skills and knowledge can be put to good use for the benefit of the organization.

Gene Grego

At-Large Director

I was born in Glendale, California, April 1948, and attended Yuba Jr. College in Marysville, California, 1966/67. Joined the USMC June 1967. Attended MCRD July-September 1967. Stationed at III MAF, H&S Co., security/club system from January 1968 to March 1970 in Da Nang, South Vietnam.

Re-enlisted in June 1970 and retired August 1989 as a Gy.Sgt. with 21-½ years of active duty at Twenty-Nine Palms, California. Worked at the Flamingo Hilton, Laughlin, Nevada, for fifteen years as a security officer and retired September 2005. Started supporting Veteran Service Organizations in 2002 with 1st Marine Div. Association, Marine Corps League, American Legion, and VFW. On Nov. 11, 2003, received the Arizona Luke Award for supporting veterans, spouses, and families. In 2005 joined VVA and started Mohave County Chapter 975. Charter member and President in 2006.

From 2008-2011 Committee Chair for Veterans Expo and Leadership of Mohave County. Moved to Mesa, Arizona, in 2010. From 2010-2012, VVA Arizona State Council 1st Vice President. From 2012 to present, VVA Arizona State Council President. Presently, the Conference of State Council Presidents’ Legislative Chairman. I have visited the Arizona State Capitol for Veteran Bills since 2010. Visited Capitol Hill and VA headquarters 2012-2015 and 2017. VVA National Government Affairs Committee, Women Veterans Committee, and 2016 Planning Committee for the VVA National Leadership Conference in Tucson, Arizona. Married to Barbara Sue Crego for thirty years, have two grown daughters, three grown sons, five granddaughters, and five grandsons.

October 2016 received the VVA National Achievement Medal.

Richard DeLong

At-Large Director

Richard C. DeLong of Lafayette, Louisiana, joined the Army in 1965 and served four years with the Army Security Agency. After serving two consecutive tours in Vietnam he was honorably discharged in 1969.

Richard joined Vietnam Veterans of America in 1988. He served as Sergeant-at-Arms, Treasurer, and President of Chapter 141 in Lafayette, La. In 1998 he was elected President of the Louisiana State Council and was re-elected for three consecutive terms. In 2002 he was elected chair of the Conference of State Council Presidents and became a member of the Board of Directors of VVA, Inc. He served in this position until 2004.

In 2003 Richard was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Foundation (now known as the Veterans Assistance Foundation) where he served for two years. Richard was elected to the National Board of Directors in 2009 as an At-Large Director. In October of 2012 he was appointed chair of the POW/MIA Committee. In addition, he serves on the following national committees: Veterans against Drugs, Membership Committee, and the Subcommittee on Awards.

Richard assisted in re-writing the National Disciplinary Code in 2007 and now serves as a member of the National Disciplinary Committee.

Richard retired from Bellsouth Communications after thirty-one years. He has been married for twenty-four years to his wife Leslie, who is also a life member of VVA. Richard was a member of the Veterans Advisory Committee for the VA Hospital in Alexandria and for the VA Outpatient Clinic in Jennings.

Sandie Wilson

At-Large Director

My military experience commenced 1967  in  the Army Nurse Corps.  The first duty assignment was Brooke Army Medical Center.  During  ‘68 and ’69,  In had the unique experience of working in Nha Trang, Blackhorse, and Vung Tau.  My mission was to save lives.

Returning home, I attended college at Wayne State University.  In addition to having a heavy class load, I became the secretary for the Veterans Club.  One of those student groups from which VVA developed.  There I learned the social aspect of being a veteran plus the skills of political action.  Some days it was difficult being a veterans but we all hang together and supported each other.

At the completion of my education I was assigned to Ft Campbell, KY as an operating room nurse and educator. Several staff I knew in Vietnam were there.  I was still there when the 101st came home.  My duty was changed to the pediatric unit when so many newborn children presented with problems.

With the conclusion of the war, I left active duty and joined the Army reserve unit because I had been notified I was on the top of the recall list.  I retired from the reserve when the general stated she could have 2 lower ranked nurses for my pay.

I met people at the VVA Detroit convention.  The convention motivated us to start Chapter 310.  I was sent to the state council meetings and became committee chair followed shortly by secretary then vice president, and finally replacement for the president.

Gumersindo Gomez

At-Large Director

In June 1966 Gumersindo joined the U.S. Army; in December 12, 1966, went to Vietnam where he joined Co. D 3rd Battalion 21st Infantry of the 196th Light infantry Brigade. After his one-year tour in Vietnam, he made the Army a career for twenty years.

After his retirement in August 1986, he came to live in Springfield, Mass., where on August 17, 1987, he establishes the 1st Veterans Outreach Center in Springfield through the Puerto Rican Veterans Association, an Outreach Center that after thirty years continues to serve veterans and their families, today known as the Bilingual Veterans Outreach Centers of Mass., Inc., with an additional Outreach Center in Boston known as the Corporal Zayas Bilingual Veterans Outreach Center.

In 1996 Gumersindo established the Jorge Oterro-Barreto Homeless Veterans Transitional Home, and in August 2015 he opens another veterans home at 247 Pine St., which consists of eight permanent SROs. Both homes are designated as sober veterans programs to help veterans get off the streets and become productive citizens through achieving sobriety, finding employment, and negotiating their claims against the VA, Social Security, Pensions, or SSI.

In June 2014 Gomez became the VVA Massachusetts State Council President. At present Mr. Gomez is the 2nd Vice-Chair for the Conference of State Council Presidents. He has also been appointed by the National President as the National Hispanic Veterans Affairs Officer. Gumersindo is also a founding member and former president of Chapter 866. He is a life member of VVA.

Dennis Howland

At-Large Director

Born in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Served the U.S. Marine Corps, 1964-72, Aviation Operations, Language Communications and Data Processing. Served in Vietnam 1966 and 1967.

Serve as Utah VVA State Council President and as Chair, VVA Public Affairs Committee. Founder VVA Chapter 1079, Founder VVA Utah State Council. Served as VFW Utah Commander, VFW National Convention Registration Chair, VFW national appointments and Fleet Reserve Association.

Serve as a Veterans Advocate for thirty-plus years with focus on Vietnam veterans. In Utah, I have spearheaded or assisted in gaining legislation honoring Vietnam veterans; includes Vietnam Veterans Day, 50th Anniversary Commemoration Vietnam War, and renaming Utah I-84 the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway.

Assisted in obtaining appropriations for the book A Time to Honor, and the documentary The Journey Home distributed at no cost to 47,000 Utah Vietnam veterans. Project chair for 80 percent replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Obtained appropriations from Utah Legislature for $100,000 to assist in that project. Raised more than $400,000.

Serve the Utah Governor’s Veterans and Military Affairs Commission, and served Veterans Nursing Home Construction and Advisory Committees.

Awards include Myers Distinguished Veterans Service, Zions Bank Veterans Service Award – Governor’s National Guard Concert in my honor, Chair Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Parade in Utah, Created and Chair Utah’s largest Veterans Parade, England Distinguished Veteran Award, Distinguished Veteran’s Service to Utah Veterans Nursing Home, Roy Elks Citizen of the Year. Work with the South Vietnamese Community to improve Veteran/Community relations.

I am asking for your vote.

Joseph A. Jennings III

At-Large Board

A Life member of VVA, Joe joined the organization in March 1987, was first elected as a delegate to the Ohio State Council in 1994 representing VVA Chapter 16. In 1996 Joe was appointed interim VVA Ohio State Council Secretary, a position that he was subsequently elected to for three consecutive two-year terms. In April 2001 Joe was hired as the Executive Director to VVA Buckeye State Council, a position he held until his retirement 2012. In the summer of 2002 he earned his VVA and the Department of Veterans Affairs accreditation as a National Service Officer and later rose to the position of the BSC Senior VVA Service Officer.

Joe has been Chairperson of the BSC Minority Affairs Committee Chair and the Chair of the BSC Veterans Benefits Committee since 2001. In 2015 Joe was presented VVAs Achievement Medal, still serves on the VVA National Minority Affairs Committee and the National VVA Veterans Benefits, and has been most recently been tapped to be the Vice-Chair of that committee. Joe is now seeking your vote for Director At Large at the 2017 VVA Convention in New Orleans, August 8-12, 2017.

 

Joe Kristek

At-Large Director

I am seeking re-election as an At-Large Board of Director. I joined VVA in 1989 and became a Life Member in 1993. My current assignments are serving on the National Veterans Benefits Committee, the Service Officer Grant Review Committee, and the National Membership Committee.

Previously, I held offices in two different Chapters (480/803) in New York State. I was appointed as the Central District Director for the New York State Council and held that position for nine years. I attended the VVA Service Officer School in 1995 and became an accredited volunteer VVA Veterans Service Officer. I retired in 2016 after twenty-one years of service. I relocated to North Carolina in 2005 and started Chapter 966, serving four years as president. I was elected as the North Carolina State Council President and served six years (2008-2014). I currently serve as the NCSC Membership Chair.

In 2013 I ran for National Director At Large and was elected. I repeated that win in 2015 and I am running again.

I joined the Army in 1965, took basic training at Fort Dix and, after attended Signal School at Fort Monmouth (MOS36H20), I received orders for Hanau, Germany. I returned home in August of 1968.

I have been married to the same woman for forty-eight years, and we have four sons, two are career military (Navy Seabee and a Marine).

Retired from IBM/Lockheed Martin after forty years.

John Margowski

At-Large Director

John L. Margowski was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force (1969-1974 and Honorably Discharged in 1985), served as a County Veteran Service Officer (CVSO) for more than thirty-two years, and continues to assist veterans through numerous VSOs and as President of a Veterans Foundation. John proudly served on Sen. Herb Kohl’s United States Service Academies Screening Committee for two decades (1992-2012).

As a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America since 1987, John has been an active member and held office as Treasurer, Vice-President, and President and presently is a Director on VVA Chapter 425’s Board of Directors.

As a representative to the VVA Wisconsin State Council, Margowski was appointed (1998) as the WSC Service Officer, sought and was elected the WSC Vice President and later President (1998-2002). John has led WSC Committees and presently is member of Team Wisconsin – WSC’s Toxic Exposure Committee (formerly the Agent Orange Committee), which has led twelve Toxic Exposure Town Hall meetings in Wisconsin, nine throughout Region 6 and at a Leadership Conference.

John was elected as VVA At-Large Director (2005-2011), Region 6 Director (2011-2015), and served on several VVA Committees: Veterans Benefits, National Disciplinary, Women Veterans, and Government Affairs. He was a part of strategic planning and is presently a member of VVA’s Panel A.

John is an active member of many veterans organizations and has held offices in many, including American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, AmVets, and Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans – Chapter 1.

Bill Norton

At-Large Director

Billie L. Norton is the CEO and owner of Metro Services, Inc., of Chattanooga, Tennessee, an international services and equipment company. He has been in the mechanical business since leaving the United States Marine Corps in 1970. He is married to Brenda F. Norton for forty-nine years and has two children Vicki and Scott who have two children each. He and his wife reside in North Georgia ten miles from Chattanooga.

Bill has been active in veterans and community affairs since 1972 and has been member, commander, chairman, or president of many organizations. He is the present president of VVA Chapter 203 in Chattanooga, of which he is a life member. He is very passionate about the success of VVA

Bill has been awarded the Chattanooga Area Veteran of the Year Award by the Chattanooga Area Veterans Council as well as the Milton Thomas award for Patriotism.

Bill is the Parade Chairman for the Chattanooga Armed Forces Day Parade. This parade is the longest continually running parade in America. Through this parade he works with veterans in all branches active and inactive.

Bill is a member of the Medal of Honor Advisory Board and the Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center

In his down time he enjoys baseball. He is a National Board Member (Gold Circle Retired) of Dizzy Dean Baseball and Past Secretary. He also enjoys hunting and golf, although he is not sure about the golf part whether he enjoys it or not.

Felix (Pete) Peterson

At-Large Director

I am running for reelection for the position of Board of Director-at-Large.

In April 1962 I was drafted and I went on to serve enlisted tours with the 5th Special Forces Group and the Army Security Agency. After attending Officer Candidate School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, I have had various officer assignments that included Battery Commander and Battalion Commander. During my career, I have had two tours of duty in Vietnam, three tours of duty in Germany, a tour of duty in Korea and numerous tours stateside and special assignments. My military education includes the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.

After thirty-one years of military service, I retired at the rank of Colonel. My civilian education includes a BS in Business Management from the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and a MA in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma with post-graduate work at the University of Oklahoma.

I have served as the Program Administrator for the Agent Orange Class Assistance Program for the State of Oklahoma, and the Director of Veterans Family Services where I still serve now. Nationally, I have served as the Committee Chair for the 2012 Leadership Conference and I currently serve as the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee, Chair of the State of Oklahoma Veterans Council, and the Chief Service Officer for the State of Oklahoma. I serve on the Minority Affairs Committee and the Veterans Benefit Committee. I am a life member of VVA.

Dave Simmons

At-Large Director

After High School, Dave enlisted in the United States Army and following Basic Training and Advanced Infantry Training was sent to Vietnam in 1969. His first assignment in Chu Lai was with the 196th Light Infantry Brigade as an 11C20 and later with the 71st Assault Helicopter Company as a 67N20. Dave returned to Fort Dix, New Jersey, to be a DI.

After his military service was over, Dave returned to school in Maryland. While working as an employee of a college, Dave was able to earn a degree in Horticulture. Dave and his wife have three sons, one daughter, and seven grandchildren.

Currently Dave is involved in the following volunteer projects:

  1. National Chairman of Vietnam Veterans of America’s program Veterans Against Drugs. Dave has been the Chairman of this National Committee for thirteen years.
  2. Although Dave has devoted his time to Vietnam Veterans of America for twenty-three years and serving as the President of West Virginia for the past nine years, he is also a life member of VFW, DAV, AL, and the UMWA.
  3. Dave is currently a member of the National Board of Directors, completing his first term and seeking a second term.
  4. He continues to be active with his Chapter in fundraising and events.

Dave Simmons has received numerous awards including the VVA Commendation Medal, VVA Achievement Medal, National Chapel of Four Chaplains Award, the Linwood Lang Award, and numerous other awards from the last three Governors of West Virginia.

Dan Stenvold

At-Large Director

Hi, my name is Dan Stenvold and I would like to have your vote for my fifth term as Director at Large.

I served three tours in Vietnam in 1969, 1970, and 1971 – all with the Army artillery on 155mm guns.

I’ve been the State Council President of North Dakota since 1999, and a member the North Dakota Coordinating Council since 1999.

In 2013 and 2015 we received $50,000 grants from our state legislature for Agent Orange education and outreach. We’ve had roundtables on A/O in thirty-one counties and reached some 2,500 to 3,000 veterans and their families. We also developed three billboards that are 20’ x 60’ along our I-highways that say: VIETNAM VETERANS – AGENT ORANGE IS KILLING OUR CHILDREN. These signs have been a huge success!

I am a life member of VVA, VFW, DAV, AMVETS, Canadian VVA, and an annual member of the American Legion,

My duties at the national VVA level include Chair of the National Awards Committee, Chair of the Convention and Leadership Planning Committee, member of the Finance Committee, member of the Public Affairs Committee, and member of the PTSD and Substance Abuse Committee. I also attend all the meetings of the Conference of State Council Presidents.

I am serving in my eleventh year as Mayor of Park River, North Dakota, city of about 1,700. The city budgets I work with exceed $6.9M every year.

I have a 100% disability rating from the VA.

I promise to give you 110 percent for the next two years if re-elected!

Kerwin B. Stone

At-Large Director

I have been practicing law in Beaumont, Texas, since 1978. My practice includes corporate law, contracts, banking, and real estate. My older son (a retired Air Force fighter pilot) flies for United Airlines; my younger son is a Methodist pastor. I am blessed with four marvelous grandchildren. I am a Christian and an active member of my church.

I earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in mathematics from Southern Methodist University, and entered the Air Force in 1970. I was assigned to Ko Kha AS, Thailand, in 1972. I separated as a Captain in 1975 and went to law school at The University of Texas on the GI Bill.

I joined VVA as a life member in 1993. I was Treasurer of Chapter 292 for six years, and have served as its President since 2005. Following four years as Secretary, I have served as Vice President of the Texas State Council since 2014. I have served as an At-Large Member of VVA’s National Board of Directors since 2015. I have also served as Secretary of the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Foundation of Texas since 2010. I am an Agent Orange victim. VVA is both a family and a passion for me.

I have formed hundreds of organizations. I have served on the Boards of many companies (both for-profit and nonprofit), and as a school board Trustee. My experience, both as a lawyer and as a proud VVA member, can help make VVA a better organization ready to face the future.

Craig Tonjes

At-Large Director

I would very much appreciate your support as I seek the position of At-Large Director. Within VVA, I have served as my chapter’s President, Vice President, and Chair of the Board of Directors. At the state level, I served the Florida State Council as Treasurer, Secretary, and President. I have served at the National level as Region 4 Director and served on two task forces, including Disaster Relief as the Chair.

Without question, I consider VVA the premier Veterans Service Organization in the country. Tom Brokaw may have deemed the WWII veterans as the “Greatest Generation,” and I give full credit to them for their accomplishments. But I consider Vietnam veterans the “Greatest Generation of Veterans”, for all we do to serve not only our generation, but those who have served in all conflicts since. That is the basis for “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” and based on our history so far, VVA has been the leader in the fight for our rights.

As we age, the end of VVA draws increasingly close. Like it or not, this is because we as an organization have decided to remain a “Last Man” VSO. Unlike other organizations with membership requirements having no strictly defined dates of service, when we run out of Vietnam vets, the door closes. It therefore leaves the leadership at a critical phase as we decide how we can end without losing all we have created over the years.

Ken HolyBee

At-Large Director

Herman "Skip" Hochreich

Region 1 Director

I was Army, 86th Combat Engineer Bn. My battalion left Ft Dix, N.J., on the USS Weigle in Oct. 66. Phu Loi, Tay Ninh, etc., down in the Delta. Left Nam in Oct 67.

Divorced (twice) with a great son.

Former police officer and twenty-five years as a long-haul owner/operator trucker.

I am a charter member of Chapter 111 in Springfield, Mass. We began back in 1983 and had a grand opening of our little storefront HQ with all the expected politicians showing for the photo op as usual. Don’t recall seeing much of them after that, but we know how that goes. When Chapter 866 became inactive and in suspension, I assumed the president’s position and along with other hard-working brothers we got it back on its feet, both with membership and financially. The same goes for the Massachusetts State Council.

I decided to run for regional director because I can bring better representation for the membership of my region, interacting with the members and being the conduit to national that my members deserve. My regional report with be in The Veteran when due. I will be available by phone or email to my constituents in order to be an effective representative. As past chapter and state council president I feel it is time for me to get back to work.

I would be grateful for the opportunity to serve the members of Region 1.

Ted Wilkinson

Region 2 Director

I am seeking to be elected as the Region 2 Director. As a life member of VVA for over eighteen years, I have served ten years as a chapter vice president, two years as a chapter secretary, and served ten years as a New York State Council director. I am familiar working at the National level having served four years as the Alternate Director for two different Region 2 Directors and currently serve as the Region 2 Director for the past two years. For the past ten years I have served on our national POW/MIA Veterans Initiative Committee and the past eight years on the national Veterans Against Drugs Committee and the national Membership Committee the past two years.

I served two tours in Vietnam, enlisting in the U.S. Army in 1969. I received, among other awards, two Bronze Stars with Valor and the Army Commendation Medal. In 2012 I was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame. I am very active in veterans legislation and serve on the advisory council for U.S. Congressman Chris Collins and the advisory council for Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in western New York.

Charlie Hobbs

Region 3 Director

During the past eight years I have served in a national capacity: four years as a National Director-at-Large while serving as the Membership Affairs Committee Chair the entire time. As a Director, I have been faced with making hard decisions at times, but I always considered all the facts presented before casting my vote.

Although my current job has been interesting and rewarding at times, I feel it is time to turn my attentions and efforts to the Region 3 membership. VVA continues to grow, new chapters are continually being started, and this is certainly necessary if our outreach is to expand. However, as the current Membership Affairs Chair, I talk occasionally with the Presidents of older, established chapters who feel that they have been somewhat forgotten. My goal is to work with and through the State Councils to determine where these chapters are and together we can give them the attention and encouragement they need to grow and thrive.

I joined the Army in February 1967 and eighteen weeks later landed in Vietnam. After serving one year in-country with the Americal Division based in Chu Lai as a Military Policeman, I returned to Fort Devens, Mass., to finish my commitment. I joined VVA in July 1991. Although there is much talk about VVA’s “last will and testament,” I feel that we still have much work to do. Sharon and I have been married for forty-two years; we have three daughters and five grandsons.

Sara McVicker

Region 3 Director

I am seeking re-election so I can continue to provide strong representation for our Region on the National Board of Directors. Over the three terms that I have served as Region 3 Director, I have used my management and organizational skills to work for the interests of our members, Chapters, and State Councils. I have been available to hear your opinions, provide advice, and help you solve problems, and I will continue to do so if re-elected.

In addition to serving as a Regional Director, I have been Vice Chair of the Finance Committee and Chair of the Budget Oversight Subcommittee which monitors VVA’s expenditures. If re-elected, I will continue to insist on financial accountability. I also serve on the Healthcare and Women Veterans Committees and recently, as part of a work group, used my skills to make the Disciplinary Policy simpler and easier to follow. I am known as someone who carefully reads everything that is sent out to the BOD and asks questions as appropriate.

VVA has many more years to continue helping veterans and their families. However, as a volunteer organization, we also face some challenges. As we consider the future, our members must have input into decisions and our members must be the ones to make any decisions about our future.

It has been an honor to serve you, and I ask for your continued support and your vote. If you have any questions, you may reach me at saramcv@comcast.net.

Spence Davis

Region 4 Director

My name is Joseph “Spence” Davis. I am seeking election as Region 4 Director. In 1966 I was drafted into the Army, went to Fort Benning for Basis Training and AIT (infantry radio repairman). After leaving Fort Benning I was sent to Biggs Field in El Paso, Texas, before being sent to Vietnam in August of 1967. I was attached to the HHSB 2/4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division in Tan An south of Saigon. Ending my army career, August 1968.

I have owned the following businesses: Advanced Electronics, Davis Trucking, and The Shoe Stop. Retiring from Roadway Express after twenty years.

I have been Treasurer of VVA Chapter 1010, Past Treasurer of the Georgia State Council and am presently serving my third term as President of the Georgia State Council. During this time I actively served on both the Region 4 Disciplinary Committee and the National Disciplinary Committee.

I have been married to my wife, Elaine, for forty-one years. We have a son, Brett, and a grandson, Kyan, both living in California. Elaine and I are members of the Methodist Church.

My goal for being Region 4 Director is to promote VVA and assist veterans. I would like for the region to work together to promote VVA programs and have conferences to provide the tools and information to be better leaders. VVA is still growing and I would like to continue to promote growth. Working together we can accomplish our goals. I am asking for your vote and support.

Thomas R. Burke

Region 5 Director

My start with VVA began in New Philadelphia, Ohio, as Vice President of Chapter 857. I would ultimately serve as their President for four terms. Following this I became the Buckeye State Council President for four terms. Then elected to the National Board of Directors at large in 2009, and reelected as National Region 5 Director in 2015, having served in many capacities within VVA. My National experience includes Chair of Veterans Benefits, and Public Affairs, Chair of Finance subcommittee on investments, Vice Chair of Government Affairs, and Vice President of the Conference of State Council Presidents, to name a few.

I volunteered for the Navy in 1963, serving at various duty stations. I was assigned to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 1 at Imperial Beach, California. Assigned to the aircraft carrier Hancock in 1966, I served in HC-1’s on board Detachment. I was honorably discharged in 1969.

I am an active member of the AmVets, American Legion, Life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars and Vietnam Veterans of America. I have come to believe that no one person can accomplish all things, but together we can accomplish more than any of us may realize. Proven by the collective effort of all VVA people.

National Officers should be a reflection of those they represent. I will represent you our members to the best of my abilities. We are responsible to you. I have and will continue to take this responsibility seriously. I request your support to continue serving as your Region 5 Director.

Mike Demske

Region 6 Director

I am presently in my first term as Region 6 Director. I have enjoyed working with Chapters and State Councils that are having problems with the various aspects of a large organization.

I am a member of the Agent Orange/Toxic Exposure Committee. We worked very hard to get the Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2015 passed. This now means that the VA will be looking at the effects of exposure to dioxins has on our children and grandchildren. Our work is not finished yet. There are still veterans out there who are suffering from their exposure and need to be included on the presumptive list. This would include the Blue Water Navy.

Right now we are looking at what the future of Vietnam Veterans of America should look like. I would like to continue being part of that.

Bob Grabinski

Region 6 Director

Dennis Andras

Region 7 Director

I’m the current Region 7 Director. I’m a decorated combat veteran, serving in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division as a Forward Observer and Reconnaissance Sergeant from 1969 through 1971. Married for forty-six years and have two sons; one is an Iraqi war veteran.

Positions held with VVA: past President and Vice President of Louisiana State Council, State Council Finance Committee, Constitutional Chair, and President of the States Foundation, past Chapter President and Vice President, currently Chapter Board of Director.

With National I’m on four committees: Agent Orange Committee past vice co-chair, Economic Opportunities Committee as the co-chair, Veterans Against Drugs Committee, and Convention Planning Committee. I have lobbied on Capitol Hill on behalf of veterans issues.

Serving on the Board of Directors for the Louisiana Medal of Honor Park, appointed by the Governor of Louisiana to the Military Assistance Board for the Department of Louisiana Veterans Affair.

Honored by the Governor of Louisiana and Plaquemine Parish President for work on behalf of Veterans issues.

When I ran for Regional Director I stated that I would write a report in each issue of The Veteran and also hold a Regional Conference which we had not had in over ten years. The first promise has been kept. Currently I’m working on putting together a Regional Conference to be held in New Orleans.

I would appreciate your vote in order to continue going forward with the work we have started and not take a step backward to the past. Thank you.

Allen Manuel

Region 7 Director

Served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1966. May a tour in Korea and in Germany twice until I finish my enlisted. When to NCO academy, and was a Staff Sergeant E -6. I was motor Sergeant for 3 years.

Allen , who is retired from working with Amoco Production offshore for 24 years. Join VVA in 1992 and became very active. He serve with chapter 632 as treasurer, vice president , finance. From 1996 to 2000 he was elected La. State vice president, served finance chairman and as a Board Director for the foundational. He sit on the advisory of the VA hospital in La. until now. He is member of the Incarcerated Chapter 689 of Angola, La . He was elected to the National of Directors as Region 7 Director in 1999 until 2015. He is serving on the National finance committee for the past ten years and the Incarcerated Veterans committee. I am a life member for the DAV, American Legion, and VVA.

I was award the VVA Achievement Medal in 2002 and in VVA 13th National Convention was award the Commendation Medal in 2007. Also receive two Chapel Four of Chaplin awards.

I believe that my past experiences in military and my civilian life have provide me with tools for the leadership VVA.

He is married to Norma, 59 years, and the father of 6 children, Richard, Anita, Scott, Shelly, Vickie, Tonya. We have one son ( Richard) who is deceased .

Francisco Ivarra

Region 8 Director

I am running for the position of Region 8 Director because I firmly believe in the Vietnam Veterans of America Declaration of Principles and that “Never Again Will One Generation of Veterans Abandon Another.” I served with the Americal Division, 196th LIB, 1/23 Infantry, 1968-1969, I Corps, RSV.

My resolve to help others is strengthened by the importance of respect instilled in me by my parents; redefining the meaning and value of life after being wounded in Vietnam; and my passion and commitment to the constitutional rights of equity and diversity. These values are what compel me to personally and professionally do what is right to effectively serve our veterans and their families.

VVA Positions Held:

  • President, VVA Washington State Council – 2014 to Present
  • President, VVA Chapter 102 – 2014 to Present. Also served as Vice President and Secretary of VVA Chapter 102.
  • Chair, VVA Minority Affairs Committee – 2002-2004
  • Member, VVA National Board of Directors – 2004 -2006

Most Recent Veterans Award: Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs 2016 Superior Service Award “For outstanding service to veterans and their families”

As a retired university professor my work and life experiences have helped to enhance my leadership skills and abilities when addressing and resolving the issues relevant to those I serve, especially our veterans and their families. I believe in open communication, transparency, and a leadership that is inclusive, sensitive, and responsive. You can be assured that I will represent your interests and will not waver on my responsibilities or in resolving your concerns. I ask for your vote. Thank you.

Ron Morgan

Region 8 Director

Our 2017 Convention is approaching, and I am asking for your continued support by re-electing me as your Region 8 Director.

I believe my advanced leadership training, experience handling difficult people and situations, an ability to communicate clearly, allowed us to negotiate some serious problems with one of our state councils. This state council now has excellent leadership in a slate of officers from multiple chapters, and every chapter now has an equal voice at state council.

If re-elected, I will continue to provide information to all of our state councils and endeavor to answer questions members might have.

I will continue to provide unbiased counsel, when asked.

Electronic newsletters with an emphasis on issues important to our membership will continue.

As your representative, I will continue to be accessible and solicit input from all State Councils – and members – concerning issues I should address at Board of Directors meetings.

When invited, assist State Councils with programs and projects – such as Agent Orange town halls – to help make them as successful as possible.

Most importantly, I will LISTEN to you.

My focus will not be just on Agent Orange meetings, but on many other issues facing veterans such as: Reintegration, Education, Employment, Homelessness, Healthcare and the VA Healthcare System, VA Disability Compensation Claims, Suicide & Drug Abuse Prevention, Incarcerated Veterans, Women Veterans Issues, Membership, Chapter Startups, and Legislative Issues

We cannot afford to neglect any of these topics.

Please allow me to continue my service to you as Region 8 Director.

Thank you.

 

Dick Southern

Region 9 Director

My name is Dick Southern and I am seeking re-election to the Region 9 Director position with Vietnam Veterans of America. I served in the Army as a Specialist 4 and a Hospital Ward Technician in B Co. 5th Medical Battalion of the Support Command of the 5th Infantry Division (Mech.) from July 1966 to January 1968. I have been a member of the VVA since 1996. I am a Life member of VVA. I was elected Secretary of Chapter 391 in 1997 and still serve in that position.

I have been a California State Council delegate to the last nine VVA Conventions. I was elected to the office of the California State Council President in June of 2002 and then to Second Vice President in 2004. I have served on the VVA National Membership Affairs Committee since 2001. I have been a member of the VVA National Veterans Benefits Committee since 2005. I was elected Region 9 Director in 2007.

I will continue to bring input from Region 9 to the National Board of Directors and let the members in Region 9 have a more active role in the decisions that are made. I strongly believe that “Communication is the key.”

I ask for your vote, and I promise that you will continue to have an advocate to the many issues facing Vietnam Veterans of America with me as your Region 9 Director.

Thank you.