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    the national organization as well as local VVA chapters and state councils from making any such endorsements Occasionally confusion arises when individual VVA members who are often very politically active are identified as representatives of our organization To preclude any misunderstandings as required by our membership we must get the word out to clarify the record Rowan said The federal tax code is very clear in this regard and any implication of improper activities could cause us to lose our tax exemption and not for profit status As long as no VVA endorsement of a political candidate is given or implied individual VVA members are encouraged to participate in the political process As private citizens we have every right to do so said Rowan Vietnam Veterans of America founded in 1978 was formed in large part to fight for and affect laws and policies to ensure that Vietnam veterans receive the help they have earned and need With chapters and state councils nationwide VVA is the only Congressionally chartered national Vietnam veterans organization exclusively comprised of Vietnam era veterans VVA s commitment to all veterans is exemplified in its founding principle Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-012.html (2016-02-15)
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    Rowan National President of Vietnam Veterans of America Because of the over prescription by some clinicians of opioids a class of highly addictive pain killers VVA endorses and supports the enactment of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act introduced today by Senator Tammy Baldwin WI D We believe the passage of this important legislation will go a long way towards strengthening the VA s opioid prescribing guidelines and will improve its pain management services Rowan noted Tens of thousands of veterans suffer from chronic pain with many also experiencing the negative effects of narcotic painkillers an epidemic of addiction that turns lives upside down and impacts families As a nation it is our responsibility to ensure that these men and women have access to FDA approved medications to better manage their pain while at the same time recognizing that every person experiences pain differently and responds to treatments in different ways The enactment of this legislation will help ensure that our veterans will live long and productive lives as they manage their pain But let s also be very clear Rowan warned prescription drug overuse is a major concern in the veterans community As such we also support proactive

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-011.html (2016-02-15)
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  • VVA Applauds VA Secretary McDonald’s Decision to Allow for Benefits for Air Force Personnel Exposed to Agent Orange-contaminated C-123 Aircraft  
    C 123s are now presumed to have been exposed to herbicides during their service making them eligible for any of the 14 medical conditions that have been determined by VA to be related to exposure to Agent Orange They may register for medical care immediately Secretary McDonald made his decision to expand benefits based on supporting evidence outlined in the Institute of Medicine s 2015 report by the National Academy of Sciences Post Vietnam Dioxin Exposure in Agent Orange Contaminated C 123 Aircraft This decision will impact the 1 500 to 2 100 Air Force Reserve personnel who served as flight medical and ground maintenance crew members on C 123 aircraft previously used to spray Agent Orange in Vietnam Under this new rule VA will presume that for affected Air Force Reserve crew members their Agent Orange related condition had its onset during their Reserve training This change ensures these reservists are eligible for VA disability compensation as well as medical care and their surviving dependents are eligible for dependency and indemnity compensation and burial benefits VA encourages reservists who were assigned to flight ground or medical crew duties during the period 1969 to 1986 at the following locations and developed an Agent Orange related disability to file a disability compensation claim Lockbourne Rickenbacker Air Force Base in Ohio 906th and 907th Tactical Air Groups or 355th and 356th Tactical Airlift Squadron Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts 731st Tactical Air Squadron and 74th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron or Pittsburgh Pennsylvania International Airport 758th Airlift Squadron VA also has identified several active duty locations where Operation Ranch Hand C 123 aircraft may have been used following their service in Vietnam Active duty personnel who served in a regular USAF unit location where a contaminated C 123 was assigned and who had

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-010.html (2016-02-15)
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    Felton who was severely wounded in the Vietnam War is being honored for his pioneering work as the head of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection the collection of more than 400 000 objects that have been left at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D C and carefully collected archived and stored Duery a long time VVA member began working at the National Park Service part time in the late 1980s VVA President John Rowan said He was the first person to realize the importance of what was being left at The Wall and he went on to become the collection s most dedicated advocate Every Vietnam veteran owes him a debt for that and we re proud to honor him at the Saturday night Awards Banquet Some eight hundred delegates from VVA chapters across the country are expected to join hundreds of other Vietnam veterans and guests in Springfield along with members of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America AVVA which will also be holding its National Convention Former Vietnam War Prisoner of War William Robinson will deliver the Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday morning July 22 Other special guests scheduled to take part in

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-008.html (2016-02-15)
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  • Vietnam Veterans of Americato Hold 17th National Convention
    Vietnam veterans and guests in Springfield along with members of the Associates of Vietnam Veterans of America AVVA which will be holding its National Convention in conjunction with the VVA event The delegates will set the organization s course for the next two years hear from an array of speakers attend information sessions and take part in special events That includes the Awards Banquet which honors Vietnam veterans and others in the arts and sciences on Saturday evening July 25 We re excited to be going back to Springfield where we held our 2007 National Convention said VVA National President John Rowan The city really rolled out the red carpet for our members and made the Convention a big success We look forward to more Midwestern hospitality in July Former Vietnam War Prisoner of War William Robinson will deliver the Keynote Speech at the Opening Ceremonies on Wednesday morning July 22 Other special guests scheduled to take part in the Convention include Vietnam veterans Walter Anderson the former editor in chief of Parade magazine Dr Timothy Miller the renowned plastic and reconstructive surgeon and Duery Felton the long time curator of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Collection of objects left at

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-007.html (2016-02-15)
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    War II Congress established administrative boards to correct discharge errors after the fact Yet for years these boards have denied discharge upgrade applications from veterans with PTSD on a near categorical basis We were so happy that Secretary Hagel finally took the plight of veterans like me seriously said Conley Monk co founder of NVCLR and one of the named plaintiffs in the Monk v Mabus a proposed nationwide class action lawsuit filed against DOD in March 2014 on behalf of Vietnam veterans with an other than honorable discharge and PTSD But we need to make sure the Memo is more than just words on a page My other than honorable discharge has been a heavy burden since I returned home over 40 years ago Veterans like me need to know that the military boards take our discharge upgrade applications seriously To assess whether the military boards are properly implementing Secretary Hagel s directive last December VVA and NVCLR submitted FOIA requests to DOD the Army the Navy and the Air Force to acquire records describing how each military agency reviewed upgrade applications before and after Secretary Hagel s order We believe this FOIA lawsuit is crucial in order to make sure the government is honoring its obligations to veterans now and into the future said Gary Monk Executive Director of NVCLR Past board decisions not to upgrade discharges or provide these veterans with minimum healthcare educational employment and housing opportunities have caused veterans severe hardship It is imperative that these branches implement the new protocol outlined by Secretary Hagel so that these and future generations of veterans receive these greatly needed services In violation of FOIA DOD and the Army Navy and Air Force have failed to produce records within the statutory time limit said Virginia McCalmont a law

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-006.html (2016-02-15)
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    own binding legal opinions and instead asked Congress to pass legislation The US Department of Veterans Affairs has taken the stance that these reservists do not qualify as veterans under 38 U S C 101 2 and 24 Vietnam Veterans of America denounced the policy Vietnam Veterans of America calls upon VA Secretary Bob McDonald to overturn the erroneous legal opinions of the VA Central Office attorneys and immediately grant these beleaguered veterans their overdue benefits effective from the date they filed their first claim said John Rowan National President of VVA Since we have defeated the VA on its claim of junk science now they are throwing junk law at us to prevent justice to those harmed by their exposure on these contaminated aircraft The VA s position is unconscionable These men and women worked slept and ate in toxic planes for years Waiting for congressional action on this issue is an affront to these elderly dying reservists said Rowan Today s announcement came after an Institute of Medicine IOM report in January 2015 concluded that exposure to these re used C 123 aircraft put approximately 1 500 2 100 personnel and reservists at greater risk of adverse health consequences After the IOM report the agency faced mounting pressure to formally change its policy towards this group of reservists whose claims have been denied for decades In February 2015 six senators including the top ranking Democrat on the Committee on Veterans Affairs Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut sent an open letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald urging the administration to give these reservists the compensation they deserve The Secretary has the statutory authority supported by agency binding legal opinions issued by the VA Office of General Counsel to immediately grant these reservists service connected disability as a result of their

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-005.html (2016-02-15)
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    of 2015 This legislation when enacted will establish within the Department of Veterans Affairs a national center for research on the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions of the descendants of veterans exposed to toxic substances during their service Rowan said VVA is gratified that this is a bipartisan effort in both houses of Congress Rowan emphasized We applaud Senators Jerry Moran R KS and Dick Blumenthal D CT and Representatives Dan Benishek R MI and Mike Honda D CA and their energetic and committed staffs for introducing S 901 and H R 1769 We will pull out all the stops to work with them in seeking additional co sponsors for this very necessary legislation And we will work with our fellow veterans service organizations military organizations and associations and others to move these bills through the legislative process and into black letter law This bill isn t only about the herbicide Agent Orange and other chemicals used in South Vietnam Rowan pointed out It s about exposures to chemical agents for all who have served in our Armed Forces including those exposed to the toxic fumes released by the U S Demolition Operations at the Khamisiyah Pit and those

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/PressReleases/2015/pr15-004.html (2016-02-15)
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