|Vietnam Veterans of America|
PRESENTING THE CASE
Here are some reasons why we should reinstate the printed edition of The Veteran.
POINTS IN MY LIFE
Many thanks to you and your staff for the May/June issue of The VVA Veteran. In a short note I am unable to express how much this issue moved me. But its impact is ongoing and I can’t let the moment pass in silence. Very emotional.
Beginning with the front and back covers, I have felt some new awareness of points in my life and it is a positive experience. I also have some sadness about the loss of the paper edition. But overall, I want to register my appreciation for the growth this publication has assisted in my personal journey. You were available to support me some time ago when I was trying to locate men I served with. There is more work I need to do and hope to call in for more information.
The VVA Veteran has been my only link with the outside world and the pertinent things going on with fellow veterans.
My new unit has well over 150 veterans. The Texas prison system has approximately 12,000 vets behind the wire. Although the number of Vietnam veterans is not high (I know of only a dozen), my VVA magazines are read by most all of the vets on the unit. You have been very helpful in keeping us abreast of veterans programs.
Texas does not allow us any form of Internet access, so cutting off the VVA magazine is, in effect, cutting us all off.
What happened to “Leave No Veteran Behind”? In Texas alone, 12,000 veterans are being forgotten. We who have made mistakes in our lives are being dumped on the side of the trail.
It’s too bad I can’t read the next issue to see if this is printed. I bet it’s not, as we are supposed to just rot away quietly, I reckon. What good is my life membership?
FORGOTTEN & DISOWNED
The best veterans service organization as a source of veteran-related resources and contact for the incarcerated veteran has been VVA and The VVA Veteran. However, in the May/June issue it was reported that this was the last printed edition.
Most, if not all, incarcerated veterans don’t have access to computers. So what are we to do now with this important resource gone?
VVA’s founding principle, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” refers to the treatment many Vietnam veterans received from the older generation of veterans when they came back from Vietnam. Oftentimes this is felt by incarcerated veterans even now from many veterans service organizations and veterans on the street, but has not been the case with VVA as a whole. The black t-shirts with yellow logo that the veterans group had when I first came to prison had the reverted rifle and helmet behind prison bars with the words. “Forgotten and Disowned.” The shirts are not the same now.
With the very real possibility that VVA could fade away when the last Vietnam veteran dies, in letters to the editor many veterans have expressed the wish to see VVA just fade away. It would seem that it doesn’t matter about the younger veterans and those incarcerated who might see VVA as a ray of hope. If the VVA motto really matters, VVA should not just fade out and die, but continue to stand up for the next generation of veterans (no matter where they are). If VVA is allowed to fade out, who will be the resource for the incarcerated veteran or the gatekeeper for the next generation of veterans?
I believe VVA has a great structure to continue to fight on veterans’ behalf and to continue to live up to its motto. If VVA is allowed to simply fade away, aren’t we really leaving those veterans with PTSD, TBI, and homelessness alone on life’s battlefield?
Let’s not let our attitude be the same toward younger veterans now that some of the veterans service organizations had toward Vietnam veterans when we came home. Let VVA still be a voice for veterans when all of us are long gone. Let VVA still be a shining light for all veterans, which will, in turn, help keep Vietnam veterans’ legacy shining bright by VVA always supporting veterans and their families.
I feel deceived and disinherited by your organization.
You knew you would have cancellations when you announced the demise of the hard print. So you had the big push last year. For lifetime memberships squeeze out every dollar you can from us. This leads me to believe your organization is more about the almighty dollar than the veteran.
I don’t have Internet service. I’m sure that a lot of my fellow vets are as I am. So you decide to get all you can before you stop the hard copies.
I will no longer support VVA with monetary donations.
I am a life member who is deeply disappointed and very upset that the May/June issue of The VVA Veteran was its last printed one. Please find a way to continue with a printed issue.
I’m also voting no to any name change or any change in membership eligibility.
John M. Schaefer
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I am VVA life member and I want to say thank you for all your time, dedication, and hard work you do for VVA. By the way, I am also a life member of VFW.
For the past year I have been reading letters to the editor from numerous veterans expressing their strong concerns and opposition about VVA and its board seriously considering changing the name of our organization and opening up membership to non-Vietnam veterans.
Although all the reasons for the name change and membership eligibility are not totally clear to me, I want to vote no to changing our organization’s name. Of course, we must take into consideration that many of us are dying. However, I would like to respectfully suggest that if finances are one of the top reasons for the consideration of changing our name, that the Board and Convention delegates consider opening up membership to the immediate family members of Vietnam veterans. They may not be actual Vietnam veterans, but they are a direct link to us.
In sharing my magazine over the years with my son, daughter, and grandkids, I have felt their expression of sincere interest in VVA and why we chose to be members and support it. Our spouses and our sons and daughters may want to donate, become dues paying members, and stay active in order to assure that VVA as an organization stays active. This approach could potentially result in the increase of dues and in attracting young people to VVA.
Add me to the list of members who want us to remain as Vietnam vets only.
Since joining VVA I have increasingly, and perhaps selfishly, come to look at my membership as being an exclusive link to the memories of great guys I spent time working and flying around with during my 18 months as an in-country Army aviator.
Most of us were fortunate survivors of our Vietnam experiences, and were able to come home to continue our lives and to feed or forget our memories of our war.
Too many left their very lives behind. Their names are chiseled in black granite, thereby ensuring they will not be forgotten.
Those of us who made it back know it took years before our country began to truly focus on the bitterness generated by the uniqueness of our war and pay attention to the challenging physical and mental needs of Vietnam veterans.
Thanks to very significant and selfless efforts, there has been in place since 1978 a vibrant VVA organization capable of advocating exclusively for Vietnam veterans—to the last man standing—which I believe was the intention of the founders.
Thank you for your attention and hard work.
Gary S. Tomczik
LEAVE IT ALONE
I feel changing the name of VVA and including other foreign wars groups in VVA is wrong. VVA leaders say they need to increase their numbers, but I think it has more to do with money. VVA has stood alongside all other veteran organizations for a long time, but this move would change our status forever.
Due to the heavy hand of time nothing or anyone will last forever. World War I is gone, World War II and Korea are leaving at a fast rate. Viet vets will also leave at a fast rate. Let the last Vietnam vet turn out the lights and close the door on his way out.
I feel strongly, as do many others, that the name and membership of VVA should not be changed. I realize that there are no young Vietnam veterans and that many Vietnam veterans are dying, but that is no reason to change what VVA is—namely a specific organization for Vietnam War veterans only. No other veterans should be allowed to join, period.
If VVA reaches the point of not enough Vietnam veterans left to support the organization, then dissolve the organization. But do not change it just to support it.
LET THE CROWD VOTE
I’m a Blue Water Navy vet. Reading all the letters concerning the possibility of changing the name of VVA and subsequently opening VVA’s doors to veterans from the Middle East wars brought up a bunch of emotions about my service and my homecoming, and it reminded me of the reason I joined VVA. I wanted to know about other vets’ experiences—good, bad, and ugly—to judge the validity of my own emotions. Since I’m not a big meeting-goer, The VVA Veteran has provided me with a wealth of information.
I believe our organization exists because we are a different breed of veteran. And I believe it should stay true to our breed. I know the VVA mission statement is “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another,” and from what I observe during any vet homecoming activity we have not abandoned any vet. We participate in these activities. But our organization remains for us.
Look at it this way: If I was a Navy or Army vet, could I join the Marine Corps League just because I thought it was a great organization?
I know that Resolution GA-21 simply requires the National BOD to investigate the requirements to change the name of VVA, etc., but I sense that the investigation is a foregone conclusion. So despite my personal opinion, I’ll go with the crowd vote—but that vote should be a mail-in vote from all VVA members, not a two-thirds vote of the delegates present at a Convention. That kind of a vote is absurd for this very important decision.
A THIRD OPTION
This is on the topic of Last Man Standing vs. inviting the Iraq and Afghanistan War vets to join a transformed VVA organization. Sussex County, Del., Chapter 1105 took a vote of its 100 members to see where they stand. With only one exception, we were firm on wanting to stay a Vietnam veterans’ organization to the end, i.e., Last Man Standing, even if it means our chapter must leave VVA.
One member brought up valid points implying the Iraq and Afghanistan vets might be let down and left needing our help for information about their benefits and rights as veterans. He was unaware, as was I at the time, there is already an organization, Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America (IAVA), founded in 2004, which has about 425,000 members, free membership, and a web store. They are a VSO advocating for veterans serving after 2001. Why would they want to join VVA?
If theoretically we only have around eight more years of functionality, averaging over 80 years old in 2028, we do not want to see National get bogged down or spend our own time and money working on transforming VVA into a blended veterans organization. As we further age, we would rather focus on helping our brother and sister veterans live out their closing years. This is not due to any animosity for our fellow veterans, such as the World War II veterans had for us.
As a third option for consideration at next year’s VVA Convention, how about exploring VVA members phasing into IAVA, instead of their veterans joining us, as our own numbers dwindle? Then we could help them do what they do, including assistance to Vietnam Era veterans. Let them do the heavy lifting to revamp and create a new organization in return for our assets such as whatever is left in the treasury, our offices, and the survivors remaining from our current 87,000 members. It is hoped this proposal generates some discussion.
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