Public Affairs Committee Update March/April 2016

The committee met in October 2015 and January 2016. Its discussions focused on the importance of public affairs in chapters and state councils. The Public Affairs Committee plays an integral role in every part of Vietnam Veterans of America, including recruiting, fundraising, community service, and service to veterans.

Maintaining a working relationship with local media on local events is important to chapters’ successes. Every chapter should have a sound and active public affairs program.

In January the committee sent a motion to the BOD to eliminate the use of the term “Vietnam era veteran.” Some of the conversation and reasoning focused on the fact that there is no “World War II era veteran.” Regardless where one served—stateside, Europe, or the South Pacific—they are a World War II veteran. Those who served in Vietnam were not an “era.” The committee voted to refrain from use of “Vietnam era veteran” in favor of just “Vietnam veteran” or “Vietnam generation.”

As the committee goes about recruiting, it finds that many Vietnam veterans who didn’t serve in country question if they are Vietnam veterans and hesitate to join VVA because they don’t think being an “era” vet allows them to join. Some 2.7 million served in the country. However, an additional six million served in support of the war around the world. It is important that those six million know they are welcome to join us and are appreciated.

In light of recent definitions by DoD Commemoration Committees and VA Secretary McDonald, this change makes more sense. McDonald believes everyone who served in the military between 1955 and 1975 is a Vietnam veteran regardless of where they served.

The committee also discussed the importance of chapters and state councils becoming 50th Anniversary Vietnam War Commemorative partners with the Secretary of Defense’s Committee. It costs no money, requires a commitment from each partner, and offers an incredible amount of resources and support. With a renewed emphasis on the 50th anniversary, this would be a good move for those who have not signed on.

Utah is working with the State Director of Veterans and Military Affairs to hold seven major events in March, including Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29, the national premier of the documentary film Long Journey Home, and the distribution of commemorative books to 47, 000 Vietnam veterans in the state. Many resources for these events will be requested from the Commemorative Committee.

Dennis Howland, Chair

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