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  • The VVA Veteran - TAPS
    Daner 58 died February 24 at his home in Jamestown New York He served in the U S Navy during the Vietnam War He was a life member and charter member of Vietnam Veterans of America Jamestown Chapter 865 Joseph C Davis 62 died April 14 in Branchville Alabama He served in the U S Army in Vietnam from 1969 70 He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Tarrant Chapter 416 and was serving as 2nd Vice President of the Chapter Robert Dean Edwards 59 died August 15 2006 in Fairforest South Carolina of Agent Orange related lung cancer He served in the U S Army during the Vietnam War and retired after 23 years Edwards was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Greenville Chapter 523 Ronald L Evans 61 died May 27 2006 in Kannapolis North Carolina from a heart attack and renal failure He served in the U S Army in Vietnam from 1970 71 with the First Cavalry Division Evans was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Jacksonville Chapter 909 Eric E Finkey 64 died April 25 in Tulsa Oklahoma He served in the U S Air Force during the Vietnam War He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Tulsa Chapter 216 Fred D Foster 69 died January 26 in Tonawanda New York He served in the U S Army during the Vietnam War He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Tonawanda Chapter 77 Raymond E Guise Jr 69 died February 20 in Enumclaw Washington He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Medford Oregon Chapter 795 John L Hart 84 died February 15 in Lawton Oklahoma He served in the U S Marine Corps as Second Lieutenant from 1942 45 participating in the invasion and occupation of Okinawa He was recalled by the Army in 1948 and retired in 1966 at the rank of Major Hart served as an infantry commander with the 24th Infantry Division in the Korean War and was involved in four major battles He was a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Lawton Chapter 751 Philip A Heil 58 died January 30 at his residence in Wooster Ohio from leukemia He served in the U S Navy during the Vietnam War in the contiguous waters Heil was a member and current Chapter President of Vietnam Veterans of America Barry P Caruso Wooster Chapter 255 James Ted Holdeman 70 died April 16 in Gillette Wyoming He served in the U S Army from 1959 62 having served in Germany France and Holland He was a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Gillette Chapter 99 Arthur C Huett 83 died February 16 in Fort Madison Iowa He was a veteran of the Vietnam War and a life member of Vietnam Veterans of America Fort Madison Chapter 947 Francis H Kelly 80 died February 12 in Wakefield Rhode Island of Agent Orange related chronic lymphocytic leukemia He

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  • The VVA Veteran - Khe Sanh: The Other Side Of The Hill
    regional party committee set final goals on New Year s Eve The next day the party plenum in Hanoi adopted its Resolution 14 the final guidance for Tet The Khe Sanh front received this document on January 10 Things then developed quickly During the last week of 1967 the 325 C Division under Col Chu Phuong Doi moved to the vicinity of Ca Lu about halfway along the mountainous segment of Route 9 that stretched to Khe Sanh expecting to regroup for a period of two months His political officer Nguyen Cong Trang and his chief of staff Mai Xuan Tan busied themselves with the myriad details that needed to be covered The division was being sent to Gen Hai s sector The 325th also received orders to detach one of its regiments to another Tri Thien Hue combat zone Col Doi assembled his troops and began moving out within 24 hours of receiving his orders On January 12 he set up a new command post at a point close to the Laotian border The troops were excited Col Hoang Dan s NVA 304th Division recently re equipped in North Vietnam moved down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to the Khe Sanh front As its history notes the entire division went into combat acting as a mobile main force unit of the high command Some units carried food for five days some regiments for just four Dan received his mission at the front command post on January 14 after which he had to hold a marathon nine hour staff meeting to make his arrangements because of the acceleration of the offensive timetable On January 19 the division received a new political officer Nguyen Trong Hop who happened to be in the area on his way to the Central Highlands The infantry was augmented by additional formations including the 45th and 675th Artillery Regiments the 7th Engineer Regiment and some local guerrillas The present for duty strength in these histories 27 000 in January 1968 compares favorably to 22 000 made at the time by the CIA More than 9 500 troops were in the front s logistics or rear services units Specialists began to survey artillery positions as early as October 1967 Some 900 tons of supplies were allotted to the operation Hanoi s data indicate a total of just over 9 000 riflemen in all with just over half armed with assault rifles but more than 3 500 having older weapons plus 360 soldiers armed with RPG rockets Crewed weapons included more than 500 light and 100 heavy machine guns about 40 recoilless rifles and some 180 mortars Heavy support included a total of 212 weapons among them eight 152mm guns sixteen 130mm guns thirty six 122mm guns eight 105mm howitzers twelve 100mm guns 120 rocket launchers and assorted other pieces South Vietnamese estimates of the antiaircraft threat proved more accurate than American ones because the ARVN credited the People s Army with heavy antiaircraft artillery and the Americans did not The enemy actually had forty two 37mm AA guns and an additional dozen of 57mm caliber along with their 130 antiaircraft machine guns This amounted to a substantial force enough to mount a threat but not a Dien Bien Phu The defensive complex in the Khe Sanh sector under Col David E Lownds of the 26th Marines included Marines ARVN Rangers and MACSOG troops in the combat base and its hilltop satellite positions a combined action company in Khe Sanh Village a Special Forces garrison at Lang Vei Camp and a Royal Laotian infantry battalion at Ban Houei Sane In all there were roughly 7 600 American South Vietnamese Montagnard Nung and Laotian troops in the area supported much more lavishly than the French at Dien Bien Phu People s Army operations got off to a rocky start Gen Westmoreland had already begun a massive aerial bombardment Operation Niagara that included many B 52 Arc Light strikes and hit points important to the NVA 325 C Division Other regiments of the division probed some of the high hill positions around Khe Sanh to cover troop movements The American view of Khe Sanh has long been that the siege opened with firefights between Marine patrols and the People s Army north of Hill 881S and then an extended combat action atop 881N on January 20 when Capt William H Dabney led I Company of the 3rd Battalion 26th Marines on a reconnaissance in force after the patrol actions The troops he encountered were 325 C men of Ho Ngoc Trai s 95C Regiment Dabney relocated to the 881S strongpoint with the enemy in pursuit The 6th Battalion of 95C according to the Vietnamese sustained 95 wounded and 15 dead That night the 325 C mounted a hasty attack on nearby Hill 861 with the 4th Battalion of the 95C Regiment The attack never penetrated the wire and left 50 dead outside the wire by Marine count The Vietnamese recorded 20 dead and 68 wounded Their accounts hold that these actions along with other attacks at Dong Tri Mountain and against American scout patrols were strictly diversionary The differences between what Gen Hai s forces actually did and the version of NVA plans volunteered by People s Army defector La Thanh Tonc strongly suggests that Tonc s account was disinformation given to mislead Col Lownds and the Marines The true initial assault role had been allotted to Thai Dung Co s 304th With the 9th Regiment deployed to catch any reinforcements Lownds might dispatch Co assigned a battalion of his 66th Regiment to capture Khe Sanh Village while Le Cong Phe s 24th Regiment was ordered to overrun the Laotians at Ban Houei Sane The 7th Battalion of the 66th Regiment broke camp at noon on January 20 Suddenly just ahead of it the ground shook as an Arc Light strike plastered the region felling trees and cratering the land The bo dois as the North Vietnamese called their soldiers were swallowed up Some columns became lost others merely waylaid The regiment leader was forced to delay the operation until shortly before dawn breaking with People s Army practice of attacking in the dead of night Meanwhile NVA artillery opened up a deadly bombardment of the Khe Sanh combat base Designed to cover the Khe Sanh Village attack and impede any reinforcements this bombardment proved unexpectedly successful igniting much of the combat base s stockpile of 1 500 tons of ammunition One Marine company had to displace its command post three times to escape the shower of smoldering shells raining on its position Vietnamese histories credit this action to the 45th Artillery Regiment acting independently The bombardment marked the first NVA use of the newly deployed long barreled D74 model 122mm gun The village of Khe Sanh seat of Huong Hoa District lay about three kilometers south of the combat base It was defended by the Marines Combined Action Company Oscar and two platoons of South Vietnamese Regional Forces Company 915 in all about 175 troops including 15 Americans most from CAC Oscar The combined action soldiers had recently improved their defenses though they had not pulled in the last platoon of the company which was stationed in a hamlet about 200 meters from the main position They also benefited from the Arc Light strike that almost caught Maj Bruce Clark s RF patrol which had been warned to pull back in time Americans and South Vietnamese hunkered down that night but nothing could prevent the attack Nguyen Van Thieng flung his 7th Battalion 66th Regiment at the allied positions First light brought considerably increased air support for the Americans and Maj Clark had radio contact with forward air controllers calling the strikes The Marines of CAC Oscar called for artillery from the combat base on their radio net Marines could not use the Claymore mines they had placed inside their perimeter to avoid mistakenly killing villagers for fear of destroying their own wire barriers Some RF troopers fled but they dropped enough grenades to break the momentum of 7th Battalion Air power reduced the assault to a slugging match Comrade Thieng fell in battle One of his companies lost nearly all its command group Political officer To Cong Kien wounded and with a broken arm led the assault The People s Army fought throughout the day into the next night and finally completed the capture of Khe Sanh Village at 9 30 a m on January 22 It had been a bloody battle The NVA suffered 154 killed and 486 wounded Though some of these casualties came from units manning blocking positions there can be little doubt the 7th Battalion was crippled by this engagement Due to its losses and the dangers posed by American air power the People s Army waited until after dark to take over the village Col Lownds sent out a small relief force a single rifle platoon but recalled it when the men reached a rise from where they could see bo dois deploying all around Khe Sanh Village From remote Quang Tri the province senior adviser had another RF company chopper in to help the defenders They ran right into an ambush prepared by the 11th Company 9th Battalion 9th Regiment A Vietnamese account states the 256th RF company was immediately completely wiped out Company commander Lt Nguyen Dinh Thiep was captured American deputy senior province adviser LTC Joseph Seymoe killed The remnants of Khe Sanh Village s defenders escaped to the combat base A SOG patrol that took advantage of the NVA delay to enter the village and destroy stores became the last allied troops to see the ville for months The other prong of the 304th Division s effort aimed at the Laotian army camp at Ban Houei Sane Clearing away this position opened the Route 9 Front s supply lines from its rear services bases all the way to Khe Sanh Division commander Thai Dung Ho gave this task to Le Cong Phe of the 24th Regiment Phe attacked from three directions committing his 6th Battalion and Company 8 of his 3rd The spearpoint of the assault was 7th Company which came in from the northwest backed by eleven PT 76 tanks of the 198th Armored Battalion Phan Van Nai who led this tank company had never worked with infantry before and the bo dois had never operated together with tanks Problems were almost guaranteed The most that could be done ahead of time was for Nai to show how to ride on the tanks without falling The infantry practiced climbing up and jumping off That was it On its approach the 7th Company was critically delayed The armor had to cross several underwater bridges to close in on the Lao positions Though Nai s PT 76 tanks were designed to be amphibious the banks of the streams in this area were so steep that only prepared approaches were suitable On the third bridge the lead tank number 555 bogged down It was extricated with difficulty after which 558 became stuck During all this the NVA troops were discovered Early morning of January 24 had come before they could move up The other People s Army formations had already started attacking Ban Houei Sane which was organized in several platoon and company sized strongpoints and defended by about 700 troops under Laotian LTC Soulang The Laotian troops put up a pretty good defense despite the fact that U S B 57 bombers overhead could not support them because they were unable to find the NVA troops in the dark By 6 00 a m regiment commander Phe frustrated with delays of the armor ordered the others to press ahead Then the planes arrived But just then came the tanks with the 7th Company surprising the defenders who became confused People s Army engineers blew out the last obstacles and the spearhead entered the base attacking the remaining Laotian positions from the interior of the camp The Lao troops broke and fled toward Lang Vei Special Forces Camp Inside of two hours it was all over The 24th Regiment suffered losses of 29 dead and 54 wounded It too pursued toward Lang Vei When he reached safety Laotian Col Soulang told the Americans that the NVA had used tanks in the battle They did not believe him At Khe Sanh combat base after the battle for the ville the Marines began a period of frantic buildup Col Lownds needed to replace the ammunition and supplies destroyed in the bombardment and the high command sent him reinforcements The last battalions to arrive the 1 9 Marines and the ARVN 37th Rangers came at this time Lownds added another satellite strongpoint at Hill 861A to protect existing positions and he put 1 9 in the valley at a low rise known as the Rock Quarry with its own outpost Hill 64 Beginning on January 23 People s Army antiaircraft fire posed a significant threat to American aerial resupply activities Mortars and other bombardment weapons also struck the Khe Sanh airfield whenever transport planes touched down on it The Americans developed techniques to push supplies into the combat base and its satellite strongpoints while avoiding excessive losses Meanwhile the Americans played some cards of their own Most notable was an Arc Light strike against Gen Tran Quy Hai s headquarters identified by radio intelligence Vietnamese sources confirm that the strike disrupted Route 9 Front headquarters for three days though it did not kill any of its top commanders When Tet came nothing happened at Khe Sanh The main fireworks came later Some who have written about Khe Sanh say that Gen Vo Nguyen Giap was at the front This is simply not true Vietnamese sources record that on February 2 NVA General Staff chief Van Tien Dung telephoned front commander Hai demanding to know what obstacles prevented the Route 9 troops from attacking more forcefully to draw in the American enemies This would have been completely unnecessary had Giap been on the scene But the complaint spurred Gen Hai to action Starting on February 3 one of the wonders of American technology electronic sensors were employed for the first time at Khe Sanh They detected large scale movements near Hill 881S The next night the movement resumed and an attack took place against Hill 861A On both occasions American artillery and air power struck hard against the supposed enemy movements The Vietnamese sources are largely silent on the attack that actually took place against Hill 861A on February 5 passing over these events in a phrase or two and providing no record of losses But Capt Earle Breeding s Marines on 861A are in no doubt that a tough fight took place that night Five Marines received the Navy Cross and between 109 and 150 Vietnamese dead lay on the ground the next morning What Hanoi s histories make much of is the battle of Lang Vei on February 6 7 Two battalions of Le Cong Phe s 24th Regiment plus the 3 101D 325 C made the assault a full regiment with the equivalent of a battalion of 122mm guns firing in direct support plus ten tanks of the 3rd and 9th Companies 198th Armored Battalion and elements of the 4th and 40th Sapper Companies Col Phe lacked his 6th Battalion which had been sent to reinforce the Tri Thien Hue front Contrary to the reconstruction later made by the South Vietnamese Joint General Staff and recorded in Valley of Decision the NVA 66th Regiment did not participate at all The assault began late in the afternoon of February 6 Supporting artillery went to second phase fire at 11 15 p m The wire on the western face of Lang Vei was breached at 11 50 by sappers and troops of Dinh Xuan Nguyen s 5th Battalion 24th Regiment To the northeast Le Dac Cong s 4th Battalion had trouble breaking through Col Phe sent his deputy chief of staff to Nguyen s 5th Battalion command post to lead the exploitation PT 76 tanks provided the hard edge and American Green Berets and Montagnard strikers found their Light Antitank Weapons ineffective against the armor On the south side of the camp the 3rd Battalion 101D Regiment eliminated two companies of Montagnard strikers in their redoubts The Vietnamese claim they completed the conquest of Lang Vei at 10 00 a m on February 7 They report 90 killed and 220 wounded in the assault On February 8 the People s Army hit again close to the Khe Sanh combat base against Hill 64 that was defended by the Walking Dead of the 1 9 Marines Here too the Vietnamese sources are remarkably silent even though this fight near the Rock Quarry was essentially the follow up to Lang Vei A battalion of the 101D Regiment of Chu Phuong Doi s 325C Division triggered some of the most intense assault combat of the siege in which the NVA actually broke into the Marine positions and fought from bunker to bunker In the aftermath Marines found 30 bodies atop the strongpoint and counted 150 enemy dead overall The Vietnamese recorded 58 dead and 71 wounded Gen Hai ordered the 304th Division to invest Khe Sanh more closely The 9th Regiment began the intense entrenching that marked the high siege phase of the Khe Sanh battle The Hill 64 fight marked the last major assault of the campaign Much had changed Before the end of February the NVA General Staff instructed Hai to send the 325C Division to the Central Highlands It left behind one regiment until mid March to stiffen the siege forces Thus the People s Army at Khe Sanh actually had the 304th Division less one battalion reinforced by a regiment of 325C for a total of eleven rifle battalions through most of the siege This is an additional indicator that Hanoi did not

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/veteran/0807/khesanh.html (2016-02-15)
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  • The VVA Veteran - The Convention’s Opening Ceremonies
    July Aug SEPT OCT nov dec The Convention s Opening Ceremonies Get ready For Some Musical Fireworks By Marc Leepson A funny thing happened to Wes Guidry VVA s national meetings planner last December While attending the Nevada Governor s Conference on Tourism in Reno he ran into the legendary country music star Lee Greenwood Guidry not the shy and retiring type walked right up to Greenwood said hello and then asked if he would be amenable to performing his mega hit God Bless the U S A at the Opening Ceremonies of VVA s 13th National Convention in Springfield Illinois in July Greenwood said he liked the idea but needed to check his schedule An official letter went out the next day from VVA National President John Rowan Early this spring came the official reply from Greenwood s associate Jerry Bentley who happens to be a Vietnam veteran and a VVA member Lee Greenwood would happily come to Springfield to sing his song as well as the National Anthem at the Wednesday morning July 18 Opening Ceremonies It s going to be a special treat for the delegates and guests at the Convention to hear Lee Greenwood Rowan said His song is world famous and will fit in extremely well with our always spirited Opening Ceremonies Lee Greenwood who was born on a farm near Sacramento California formed his first band the Moon beams in junior high school He turned down a music scholarship at the College of the Pacific and the prospect of a professional baseball career to dive head long into the music business when he finished high school He knocked around Los Angeles and Las Vegas for a few years before finding his first success in 1978 when he moved to Nashville to sign a recording

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/veteran/0807/opening_ceremony.html (2016-02-15)
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  • The VVA Veteran - In The Tornado’s Trail
    one o clock a tornado s funnel reached out of the swiftly moving leaden sky touched down by the airport withdrew then slammed to the ground again The twister dawdled through Enterprise destroying everything it touched along a 10 mile trail Eight students were killed at the high school and many homes and businesses were totally ruined As he watched in horror on his television Alabama State Council President Wayne Reynolds saw veterans in need They didn t need handouts he said They didn t need promises They needed cash So Reynolds turned to National He called VVA President John Rowan and explained the needs Go for it Rowan said and directed him to the VVA Disaster Relief Committee Reynolds contacted Tom Hall in Florida who told him about procedures and applications but Reynolds said he didn t think that would work Although part of the committee s job is to set parameters Hall and Committee Chair Craig Tonjes immediately agreed with Reynolds boots on the ground approach What then they asked did he want Five thousand dollars Reynolds replied for which he would be personally and financially responsible The request was made on Tuesday By Friday the committee had voted decided affirmatively and the money had been electronically transferred to the Alabama State Council By Friday Reynolds said the money was in the bank Doc Reynolds also turned to VVA Chapter 373 in Enterprise He asked Paul Kasper the immediate past chapter president and Max Roberts past Alabama State Council president to do what he couldn t He asked each to do a separate assessment of military and veteran families with critical needs Those two men knew the community and they had witnessed the devastation It was a job that called for thoroughness delicacy and fairness Enterprise is a

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  • The VVA Veteran - Memorial Day Done Right
    had occurred Their city was ready to thank all who had served in Southeast Asia not just Alan Brudno It was a heartfelt event simple and sincere Larry Norton served as the emcee Elected officials read proclamations and offered good wishes Bob Brudno spoke of his brother s life and legacy David Jacobs who had been the Brudno family s rabbi four decades earlier offered warm recollections of Alan Orson Swindle recalled his fellow cellmate For many in attendance it was a transcendent event pure of motive honest in intent After Alan died Bob Brudno told those gathered in the auditorium many other POWs revealed their demons and treatment was extended without the career ending consequences that Alan feared Programs are in place today for POWs and their families that will continue for the rest of their lives THE HEALING BEGINS It is veterans who do for themselves and in the process rehabilitate their image and take pride in their identities In Washington Jan Scruggs s dream became after many fits and turns The Wall It is sacred ground a place of remembrance and reflection Other memorials acknowledging the service and sacrifice of the men and women who served in Southeast Asia were conceived by veterans created and constructed in small towns and big cities throughout the nation and paid for through the efforts of veterans As The Wall was being built in 1980 Alan Brudno s widow Debby approached officials from the Air Force Could her husband s name be inscribed on The Wall she asked No they told her He did not die in Vietnam In 1998 Bob Brudno a naval officer during the war began a journey that would change that He knew Adm Elmo Zumwalt who invited him to a reception in Washington They met and had a brief conversation with Everett Alvarez who had spent more time in confinement than any other American POW He was one of us Alvarez told Bob Brudno which got him thinking Did anyone think otherwise of his brother Even though Alan Brudno was posthumously awarded two Silver Stars the Legion of Merit two Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts among a multitude of medals could anyone believe that he had killed himself out of shame Bob Brudno wrote an op ed article for Newsweek Unfinished Business began his effort to tell his brother s story and how all of those who had served in Vietnam were unfairly treated It wasn t until 2004 however that Bob Brudno began a campaign that ended when the Secretary of the Air Force and the Secretary of Defense signed off on adding his brother s name to the others that grace the polished black granite of The Wall HONORING ALAN BRUDNO It was not an event however that Debby Brudno had looked forward to I had feared opening up this vast personal sadness with a group of strangers she said And we had no idea of the reception we were going to get

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/veteran/0807/qunicy.html (2016-02-15)
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  • The VVA Veteran - RANDYWRIGHT
    vets and at least in my community were indifferent or patronizing to Vietnam vets When the young lawyer tried a meeting of VVA s Detroit based Chapter 9 he liked what he saw and heard He joined and went on to serve on several committees Wright was soon elected to the Chapter 9 Board of Directors and became Chapter President in 1983 Between 1983 and 1985 we grew Chapter 9 from less than 200 members to about 800 members And we created a new chapter headquarters building that taught me a great deal about what can be achieved in a community and on behalf of veterans The campaign to reclaim and restore an abandoned and decaying building in downtown Detroit is illustrative of Randy Wright s focus as well as the entrepreneurial negotiating and organizational skills he brought to VVA The building which formerly housed a restaurant was purchased by Chapter 9 before Wright was president The aim had always been to create the chapter headquarters on that site but the project was stalled and the building remained shuttered After Wright became president he mobilized the chapter s energies and directed efforts that sparked widespread community support We received tremendous volunteer and financial assistance from labor unions the Association of General Contractors and other community groups Wright said We had a campaign theme We Are All Vietnam Veterans We took back the streets in that neighborhood pushed out the drug dealers and launched a revitalization of that entire section of urban Detroit A local television special was even produced about the project If the new Chapter 9 Headquarters invigorated a failing sector of the city it also helped to redefine the notion of community service by a group of veterans that had seen itself stereotyped in film and television as the tripwire generation sold to the rest of America as a band of freaked out ready to snap men hovering on the borders of society Wright recalls many of the TV police shows of the period where the bad guys were all too often Vietnam veterans The rationale and merits of the war were under fire and its veterans were misunderstood Or as Wright recalled more often we were simply ignored Under Wright s leadership Chapter 9 helped to change public perception of Vietnam veterans challenge stereotypes and make an authentic difference in the life of a city It was very gratifying Wright said when we were able to host the 1985 National Convention I saw and I know others did too the power and influence of grassroots efforts One of the highlights of that convention was the appearance of Jim Armstrong on the Convention floor and in its meeting rooms In addition to his Chapter 9 responsibilities Wright was serving as VVA National Committee Chair for Prison Initiatives Armstrong was president of the incarcerated VVA chapter at Jackson Prison Jim and I negotiated his release to attend the Convention He was accompanied by two armed guards who volunteered for

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  • The VVA Veteran: PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE
    And A Parade BY JOHN ROWAN On behalf of the officers and the newly elected Board of Directors I want to thank all of the delegates who attended the National Convention for their support In our first term the officers spent a fair amount of time analyzing headquarters operations which resulted in a few changes This among other things positively affected our revenue stream As we enter our second term we hope to make more positive changes We also want to thank all of the staff who made this Convention one of our finest and quickest Apparently we have very little left to change in our Constitution which was created at our Founding Convention in 1983 Also while unfortunately many of our existing resolutions are still relevant there are very few new issues Sadly many of the issues that plagued us as Vietnam veterans are pertinent to the newest generation of veterans and still require our attention WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO Sometimes when you get tired you wonder why we do what we do Then something happens to remind you While sitting in the St Louis airport waiting for our plane to go home I ran into an old friend Tim Driscoll who was taking the same flight Tim had been involved in the very beginnings of VVA when he was an attorney working for then New York Gov Hugh Carey When I asked him what he was doing in Missouri he told me a heartening story Tim served in Vietnam with the HHC 39th Combat Engineers in Chu Lai Their job was protecting the airfield and keeping open the highway known as The Street Without Joy On August 8 1968 Tim s best friend in the Army Jim Leahy was killed when his Jeep hit a landmine Tim wrote a note to Jim s parents and on the way home to Brooklyn in November 1968 he stopped in Madison Missouri to see them He has kept in touch with the family ever since As Tim says I could not mourn for everyone who died but I could concentrate on the family I knew Each year he called the parents on New Year s and Memorial Day They re gone now but Tim has kept in touch with Jim s sisters and nephews and niece He is the pinch hit uncle attending all of their weddings He was in Missouri attending the wedding of the last nephew Matt Boebel when we met Not all of us can do what Tim has done But the memory of those we lost is one of the things that keeps us going I LOVE A PARADE This is the last issue of The VVA Veteran before the Parade celebrating the 25th Anniversary of The Wall on November 10 Again I urge you to come to Washington D C that weekend for what is shaping up to be a wonderful event This Parade may be the last opportunity for Vietnam veterans to gather

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/veteran/1007/president_message.html (2016-02-15)
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  • The VVA Veteran: GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS
    to confuse military hospitals with VA medical centers But all the attention and outrage helped crystallize the gaps in service that undermine health care at both VA and military facilities The findings and recommendations of the task forces and commissions particularly the commission headed by former Senator Bob Dole a veteran of World War II and former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala now the president of the University of Miami generated much interest in the public and the press Many of the recommendations are sensible and can be implemented at no cost or minimum cost But to really assist veterans and particularly combat wounded veterans and active duty troops the military services and the VA have got to forego their turf wars The bottom line that caring for our war wounded is part of the continuing cost of the national defense is basic If the soldier or sailor or Marine or airman or Coast Guardsman is not afforded all the assistance s he needs to transition from active duty to veteran status if the continuum of non clinical case management breaks down somewhere along the chain then all of the recommendations and new ways of doing business all of the good will and sincere offers of assistance will be for naught Both DoD and VA officials need to be held strictly accountable for implementing these recommendations and bonuses withheld until all are actually accomplished That will certainly focus the attention of all concerned on the tasks at hand that are most pressing AID FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS H R 1538 the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act which passed the Senate on July 25 addresses veterans issues and concerns in a variety of arenas In regard to mental heath the bill authorizes 50 million to improve the diagnosis treatment and rehabilitation of service members with traumatic brain injury TBI and Post traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD The legislation also establishes TBI and PTSD centers of excellence to conduct research and develop best practices for addressing these combat related disorders The bill creates a new evaluation system for disability rating and increases severance pay for service members whose disability is rated 30 percent or less This legislation contains a provision that would allow the enrollment of Priority 8 veterans e g veterans who do not have a disability related to their military service and whose annual incomes exceed 27 790 Passage of the bill by both the Senate and the House would rescind a January 2003 regulation that prohibited their enrollment Opposing this Democratic initiative Larry Craig R Idaho as of this writing still the Ranking Member of the SVAC said If we open the door the reality is that they will come He estimated that as many as 17 million additional veterans would be eligible to use VA medical services although Sen Daniel Akaka D Hawaii the committee chairman said that only 1 5 million veterans would likely enter the system as a result of the change VVA continues to strongly advocate re opening the VA health care system to all veterans each of whom earned that right by virtue of military service A suicide prevention bill S 479 also approved by the committee would require the VA secretary to conduct an outreach effort aimed at Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families and to mount a campaign to discuss mental health problems among veterans It would require the VA to make mental health care available around the clock Perhaps anticipating Congressional action the VA announced a 24 7 suicide hotline The House passed a similar bill H R 327 in March The omnibus benefits bill S 1315 would also provide expanded life insurance benefits for veterans and treat Filipino World War II veterans as U S veterans by paying them service connected compensation benefits at the full rate for veterans living outside the United States This last provision sparked charges by the Ranking Member of the House Veterans Affairs Committee Steve Buyer R Ind that to pay for this pork the VA would have to take monies that would otherwise be dedicated to the care of indigent and disabled veterans Although spurious this charge sparked confusion and concern in the veterans community In fact the poor interpretation of the law passed several years ago would mean that veterans who are 60 percent disabled at age 60 would receive larger payments from VA than 100 percent disabled veterans which is simply not equitable MORE FOR HEALTH CARE As this issue of The VVA Veteran was going to press the Senate was still debating the 109 2 billion Military Construction Veterans Affairs spending bill which would add 3 6 billion for veterans health care over and above the Administration s budget request for FY 08 Ever the good and loyal acolyte of the President VA Secretary Nicholson who had announced his resignation during the VVA convention in July effective no later than the first of October argued that the President s budget request would give the VA all the funding it needed In fact VVA believes that the additional 3 6 billion above the President s requested amount is very much needed and is too conservative if anything Despite early threats of a presidential veto because the spending measure passed in the House H R 2642 would provide almost 4 billion more than the President requested the White House Office of Management and Budget OMB stopped short of threatening to veto the bill According to Congressional Quarterly the OMB did state strong opposition to a provision pushed by Sen Dianne Feinstein D Calif that would prohibit the commercial use of land at the 388 acre VA medical center site in Los Angeles The provision circumvents the VA s Capital Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services CARES process which the department uses to determine where and when to build VA facilities CQ wrote Feinstein s concerns came after the VA leased some of the land for commercial use to private companies including the

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/veteran/1007/govt_affairs.html (2016-02-15)
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