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  • The VVA Veteran
    in Florida had been confirmed for use in the film but at the last minute was pulled Two years later someone from the Texas Air Command Museum accidentally found the Fries website www intheshadowoftheblade com and called them You looking for a Huey he asked We have one The Bell helicopter s official name is 65 10091 but goes by 091 Shot up twice and crashed in the Vietnam War the helicopter itself is a Vietnam veteran that went on to serve in the Army Navy Army Reserve National Guard and NASA During the war more than 7 000 Hueys flew in Vietnam Nearly half were lost The Hueys flew more combat hours than any aircraft in history More than 900 000 patients were airlifted by the workhorse helicopters 091 was flown by the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company The Robin Hoods in Vietnam Among the more than 50 Vietnam helicopter pilots to fly 091 during the film was Ernie Bruce This time around his daughters flew with him In New Mexico a Native American blessed 091 with sage In Georgia an artist painted a talisman on it The helicopter carried veterans sons daughters and wives landing when and where it could and drawing an appreciative audience at every LZ When the filming ended the helicopter was donated to the Smithsonian s National Museum of American History for inclusion in a permanent exhibit scheduled to open on Veterans Day 2004 The filmmakers made a point of assembling a crew of Vietnam veterans Retired Lt Col Bob Baird co pilot and mission logistics coordinator who served 20 years in the Army with two tours in Vietnam Bill McDonald mission chaplain a former crew chief for the 128th Assault Helicopter Company Gary Roush mission historian a former helicopter pilot with the 242nd Assault Support Helicopter Company Mike Venable mission co pilot who flew with the 129th and 134th Helicopter Assault Companies The Fries conducted many interviews with veterans logging more than 200 hours of taped interviews reunions and ceremonies One of our philosophical principles was that we wanted to stay as close as possible to the history of the veterans at every opportunity Cheryl Fries said So we involved veterans at every level We always had a Vietnam veteran in the left seat of the aircraft and we had veterans planning the LZs and doing a lot of the crew work Accuracy was non negotiable There was a great deal of respect about this being sacred ground for the people telling the stories We were committed to being respectful of the veterans and families we were interviewing In the years of pre production we interviewed hundreds of veterans That s how we formed the philosophical base for the film Patrick Fries believed that had they not been faithful to the experience of the veterans many of the stories would not have been told If you re not accurate people don t want to talk to you he said They don t want to

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_07/feature_shadow.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    are coming when some will only weep at graves They have religions and some have always prepared for death but none wants it no one voluntarily wants that silence We will save you from yourselves the giants say So the people prepare to die They may all rise up to defend themselves from being saved but still they prepare to die A dirt road threads from the upper right out of dense brush weaving through a burst of trees across the landscape in a scar above the ruins Just before it curves upward and disappears into jungle a T is formed by a trail dropping to a tree shadow or log or trench and at the top of it to the right a lone figure stands looking down at the shadow or log or trench then out at the jungle flesh peeled and blown and burned from the skull of earth then up at the metal hummingbirds territorial like their avian models He is holding a weapon smaller than noise smaller than his dreams and his hand is frozen on the trigger He is frozen in time in a moment that won t come again but will not stop being however much he wants to be transported to another time a time when he walked that thread with joss sticks to visit ancestors a boy who believed in everything Footsteps fade Helicopters pass In war the people and the earth always lose The award winning photographer Dick Swanson went to Vietnam in 1966 where he worked on contract for Life magazine After five years in Vietnam Life moved him to its Washington D C bureau where he was White House photographer Swanson has photographed for People Money National Geographic The Washington Post and Newsweek The poet and writer George Evans

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/feature_pieceunique.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    groups and not just VVA I m apprehensive he said I had some feedback from other veterans groups Some say we re trying to do the same thing they re doing but we re not They re not trying to establish a formal body as we are They re just trying to get some legislation passed They re throwing it out to the General Assembly and hoping somebody picks it up Insley said invitations to the Jan 21 reception with Maryland legislators went to 14 veterans organizations Four weeks before the reception was to be held he had one formal response and had spoken with representatives from three other organizations I honestly don t think they understand what it is we re trying to do he said After the first meeting with Del Cadden the Democratic legislator sent a letter to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate explaining the proposal for a veterans caucus Copies of the letter went to other delegates and senators whom Del Cadden thought might be interested in the effort She later met with the Speaker of the House who gave his approval for an initial establishment of an informal caucus If you can get 20 30 40 legislators together you have some power Insley said Insley emphasized the importance of active participation by VVA members in the legislative process He said that when he began attending an advocacy workshop he was naive about some of the things he could accomplish noting that when he stormed the Hill in Washington he found that some legislative staffers pay attention and that the word gets passed along to representatives and senators He found the same thing happening when he stormed the next hill Annapolis I ve been knocking on doors down there and

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/feature_Insley.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    m about as American as you can get he said I wasn t going to rebel against my country As the months went on Gleason remained optimistic believing the Army would do the right thing He was inducted at Fort Ord near Monterey California He had to be ready just in case He then took basic training at Fort Lewis in Washington becoming skilled at throwing grenades and shooting rifles He had all the tools remember Gleason was sent for infantry AIT at Fort Polk in Louisiana He tried as much as possible to delay any trip overseas hoping the legal process would grant him a last minute reprieve There was no reprieve My orders were cut for me to go to Vietnam he said I was bummed out naturally wondering if I was ever going to make it through this alive But I was put on hold up in Oakland I was there for a month Again I had hope Again the hope did not last Grab your stuff you re going he was told by three MPs one day You re going to Nam We ve got the orders right here Where are my records Gleason responded You don t need records they said The orders have been cut Reality didn t take long to settle in I was in the plane looking down Gleason recalled It looked terrible I saw moon craters from the bombing It was like Welcome to Vietnam I thought of the Beatles song Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away All of a sudden I m right in the middle of it Gleason proceeded to the 9th Infantry headquarters in the Mekong Delta in a place called the French Fort From the beginning he was involved in search and destroy missions As Gleason put it Our job was to make contact with the enemy They would drop us any place they thought there was movement Every day you were shot at Some days it was just a couple of sniper shots here and there other days it was flat out ambushes One day July 24 1968 stands out Gleason who had been named the division s soldier of the month in June was walking point ready to cross a small stream A shell suddenly exploded out of a tree ripping holes in his left calf and left wrist He was taken away in a helicopter The injuries were severe My index finger was totally dead Gleason said I couldn t squeeze with my left hand like I used to Even today he adds any kind of cold weather it hurts like hell But Gleason was not the kind to surrender to the enemy or the odds After recuperating at a hospital in San Francisco he started his comeback In 1969 he played again for Albuquerque Though the Dodgers sold him to the Angels Gleason was not discouraged In 1970 he was sent by the Angels to the Mexican League a new lease

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/feature_ballPlayer.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    them There are few things more powerful than seeing honoring escorting and supporting the fallen who are returned home to us We attend funeral chapel and graveside services whenever possible We did not disclose the names during repatriation ceremonies we attended in Vietnam There was no need to We respect families wishes for privacy and at the same time still honor the military personnel returning home who gave their all for this country We must make sure that the media photograph any ceremonies with honor and respect But we do not want the remains of our returning sons and daughters to be ignored Many of our chapters and members are involved in supporting and welcoming home our troops and helping their families Vietnam veterans more than anyone understand the importance of this mission and we must make sure it continues We continue our involvement with the wounded at Walter Reed Army Hospital which is near VVA s national office Working alongside our local chapters we will continue there and other places to reach out and let returning veterans know that we support them We have heard their stories and have shared their pain This Memorial Day weekend we also will

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/president.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    This budget which essentially rubber stamps the budget proposed by the administration calls for a modest 1 8 percent increase in funding for the VA s medical operations It also caps future spending for the VA that will result in decreases of billions of dollars during the next four federal fiscal years It also causes the VA health care budget to be billions less than what is needed for decent care for all statutorily eligible veterans On a per capita basis veterans using the VA health care system get less than 60 cents for each dollar given to those receiving Medicare using 1996 as the base year This should be unacceptable to all Americans Every House Democrat voted against the Nussle bill They were joined by ten Republicans Of these only four cited the impact of the budget on veterans and veterans programs as the reason for their Nay votes For the record the four are Reps Chris Smith of New Jersey chair of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Christopher Shays of Connecticut Virgil Goode Jr of Virginia and Rick Renzi of Arizona SAVING PRIVATE OVERTIME FOR VETERANS On April 20 the Department of Labor DOL released its final rules on updating Part 541 reform as it relates to workers rights to receive overtime The final rules exclude the controversial language that originally included Armed Forces training as a provision that would exclude a veteran from receiving overtime and reclassifying his or her position as a professional position Just as important the new rules omit Armed Forces training noting Thus a veteran who is not performing work in a recognized professional field will not be exempt regardless of any training received in the armed forces On March 31 2003 the DOL had proposed regulations that would possibly deny overtime protection to thousands of veterans who have received certain kinds of military training Under current and past regulations workers can be denied overtime protection if they fall within the category of professional employees But generally only workers with specialized degrees can be classified as professional Under the failed proposal employers would have been able to do away with this standard requirement and allow equivalent training in the armed forces to be routinely substituted for a specialized degree VVA was the only VSO to challenge those proposed rules The other VSOs either agreed with DOL or remained silent VVA sent formal comments and several letters to Secretary Elaine Chao and others complaining that the proposed rules would harm veterans VVA also attended several meetings with other interested parties to form alliances to defeat the proposed rules Veterans Employment and Training Service a division within DOL held a VSO only meeting on April 20 to announce that it has heard our concerns and removed the contentious language from the final rules thus protecting overtime rights for thousands of veterans The Solicitor of the Department of Labor attended to the meeting to explain the revisions of the proposed rule and to answer questions

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/gov.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    does work Now we must tell everyone If we don t this program will end and all the hard work will be taken over by the drug dealers Speaking of things that change and then come right back again as if something new have you heard the latest on methamphetamines Originally thought to be the drug of choice for biker gangs in the 1970s and 80s meth is having a resurgence across the country Laboratories are springing up in many places including hotel rooms Methamphetamines are highly addictive artificial stimulants that are sold on the street for about 20 per pill or 60 to 100 per gram Meth is often passed off as Ecstasy and is extremely addictive In my county in New Jersey there were two possession and distribution cases involving meth in 2002 there were at least 16 in the last 12 months a more than 800 percent increase in less than two years It s a dangerous drug that can be swallowed inhaled injected or smoked The high can last 12 hours longer than cocaine It causes paranoia mental confusion and anxiety It is also more addictive than crack and can cause sleepless stretches that last for days A pound of meth sells for as much as 10 000 Fumes from the manufacturing of this drug can cause fires and explosions If that doesn t scare you I don t know what will Our kids are doing this stuff If we don t say enough and try to act as role models then we deserve what we get When I speak to at risk children or kids in normal environments and schools they listen to us in part because we as Vietnam veterans have been called the biggest dope users in American history If we don t

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/vad.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • The VVA Veteran
    Court for the District of Columbia for declaratory and injunctive relief The lawsuit is designed to have the court declare that the VA is in violation of its statutory outreach obligations and to order the rescission of the July 2002 memorandum and the reinstatement of full VA outreach In March 2004 the Department of Justice which represents the VA filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit suddenly producing a February 2004 memorandum from the Undersecretary of Health for Operations and Management to the VA s regional medical directors which purportedly clarified the July 2002 memo The VA now calls the directive to cease outreach as a limitation on marketing for the specific purpose of enrolling new patients The memo also claims that the VA spent 36 million on outreach in FY2003 23 million of which went to direct outreach to veterans The Undersecretary requested that regional medical directors insure compliance with the outreach statute but admonished them to balance outreach activities with available capacity and resources She did not however rescind the July 2002 memo In its motion the Justice Department argued that the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the VA s actions because the manner and scope of health care outreach are committed to the Secretary s discretion by law and that the plaintiffs challenge has been mooted by all of the outreach that the VA is doing In April 2004 VVA and Rep Strickland filed an opposition to the government s motion to dismiss as well as a cross motion for summary judgment which argued that 1 the scope of VA health care outreach is explicitly stated in the statute and the Secretary s effectuation of that mandate is not discretionary 2 the February 2004 memo does not moot the lawsuit and 3 plaintiffs allegations of VA noncompliance with the statute must be assumed as true for purposes of considering the motion to dismiss At press time we are awaiting the judge s decision on the motions From a practical standpoint the lawsuit is having a definite impact on the VA Since VVA and Rep Strickland filed the action there has been a flurry of VA outreach activity including the February 2004 memo a memo from the Secretary to all VA managers concerning the VA s commitment to outreach and a letter to be sent to all Afghanistan and Iraq military returnees about VA benefits and health care as well as a just recent video public service announcement Boatswain v Ashcroft In 2003 VVA filed an amicus friend of the court brief in the U S Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Nolan v Holmes challenging a District Court s decision to overturn a criminally convicted noncitizen Vietnam veteran s Immigration and Naturalization Service INS deportation order based on his honorable military service The court found for the government Boatswain is a Vietnam veteran in a similar situation In April 2004 VVA along with the National Veterans Legal Services Program and Black Veterans for

    Original URL path: http://vva.org/archive/TheVeteran/2004_05/benefits.htm (2016-02-16)
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