Public Affairs Committee Update May/June 2016


Last issue, we reported that the committee had presented a motion, passed by the BOD, to remove the term “Vietnam-era veteran” from all VVA documents and publications. It has become apparent, though, that the task is logistically impossible. Our Charter, Constitution, and many other documents contain the term. We also got heat from some members who were unhappy with the motion, although there were about as many in favor of it. So the motion was rescinded and tabled for further study.

Even as a Vietnam veteran who saw combat, I am still a believer in one term fits all. A Vietnam veteran is a Vietnam veteran. That thinking served the nation well in all past conflicts. If we insist on being treated as well as the veterans of past wars, then I believe one term should encompass us all.

We didn’t fight our war alone. We were supported by millions of men and women around the world. From a public affairs position, I believe that “one term fits all” aids in our recruiting, our camaraderie, and it shows our appreciation of a segment of veterans that would have gone to the war zone if they had had orders to do so.

The multitude of dates defining Vietnam veterans only adds to the confusion. It confuses potential members, as well as our members trying to recruit them. It’s a public affairs problem. VVA recruits using two different dates: one for in-country, another for duty stations around the world. Why? Why, for that matter, do we not recruit those who served in Vietnam from 1955-60?

DoD and the VA recently redefined a Vietnam veteran as any man or woman who served in the military from November 1, 1955, to May 15, 1975, anywhere in the world. Period. Why can’t we use the same definition? Marc Leepson will spearhead an investigation into this murky business of dates. Your input is welcome. His email is .

The committee also looked at a renewed call to our elected congressional officials to co-sponsor H.R.1769 and S.901, The Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2016.  If your chapter members haven’t been on the phone to your representatives, you should find out why.

Still another point of legislative discussion is why S.B.409, introduced in 2013, hasn’t been re-introduced.  That bill would establish a National Vietnam Veterans Day. Many states have enacted legislation, but we need to make it a national observance.  I will ask Utah’s delegation to consider re-introducing the bill. Otherwise, it’s dead in the water. Use your public affairs skills to gain community and legislative support. It’s also an opportunity to let your community and fellow Vietnam veterans know that you are working on their behalf.

We discussed the many 50th anniversary commemoration events and the distribution of a 50th anniversary book, A Time To Honor , and a documentary, Long Journey Home , both released in Utah in March. All 47, 000 Utah Vietnam veterans will receive the book and CD, thanks to a terrific production company called Remember My Service, headed by Sharlene Hawkes. Each VVA state council president and Board member has received a copy.  I am told half a dozen states may produce similar gifts for their Vietnam veterans.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or 801-389-1893.

Dennis Howland, Chair

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