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VVA Directors’ Reports, January/February 2022 -   -  

With the Convention over and new leadership in place, VVA is set to move forward with our efforts to continue helping all veterans and their families.

Unfortunately, just as I was prepared to leave for Convention, I wound up in self-quarantine because of close contact with a friend who tested positive for COVID and was symptomatic. We had been working on my truck all week when he took ill. Although my symptoms were minor, I was forced to miss the Convention. I am very disappointed I could not attend.

New Hampshire Daniel K. Poling Chapter 992 has been out and about in the community as always. The chapter is named for Rev. Poling, a veterans advocate who helped the chapter get started, and whose brother, Rev. Clark Poling, was one of the Four Chaplains on the U.S.S. Dorchester in World War II who perished while rescuing sailors from the sinking troop ship.

The chapter has lost several members during the pandemic due to Agent Orange-caused cancers. Chapter President Melvin Murrel urges everyone to sign up for the Agent Orange Registry. He also advises everyone to read VA emails: they are not all junk. Also important, he says, is to be sure your relatives know where to find your DD-214 and recent medical records and to have a notarized will at hand.

On a brighter note, the chapter will return to the Toys for Tots program they have run successfully for many years. They are also planning a bus trip to Mohegan Sun Casino.

I have completed appointing members to the disciplinary committee, and Justin Latini of Massachusetts Chapter 206 will be the new alternate Region 1 Director.

On October 16 Massachusetts hosted the Region 1 Conference. It was attended by representatives of most states. National President John Rowan and Vice President Tom Burke were there to speak. There was much discussion about Convention resolutions, including the future of the organization. It was a successful gathering, and our work was completed quickly.

Please read the article on our efforts to secure burial flags for Canadian Vietnam War veterans in this issue. It was a lot of work, time, and expense getting these urgently needed American flags to Canada for our brothers who served with us in Vietnam. The Canadian veterans did not get support from their government and reached out to me and VVA for help.

As in the past, I received few reports of chapter and state council activities. That made it difficult to put together this column. If your chapter or state council is out there doing good work, please let me know so I can tell the world. I can be reached at skip1juli1@comcast.net

The VVA National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina, which had been scheduled for last summer, was held November 2-6. This resulted in a much different experience for Convention delegates: Masks were required in all common areas and proof of vaccination was required to register and to attend all Convention events. Temperatures were taken daily by VA medical personnel.

In 2019 at the Convention in Spokane, Washington, delegates passed Resolution GA-21 asking the National Officers to investigate the requirements to change the name of Vietnam Veterans of America and expand the membership to those who served after the end of the Vietnam War. These proposed changes would be presented to delegates at the 2021 Convention. After meetings with younger veterans, however, the Board determined they didn’t have sufficient interest in joining a new veterans service organization.

The delegates in Greensboro, instead, approved a resolution directing that VVA remain a last-person-standing organization and insisting the organization’s name remain Vietnam Veterans of America. Delegates are the final authority in VVA.

Elections for National Officers resulted in Jack McManus becoming president. We have the utmost gratitude for all that John Rowan has done and accomplished for VVA. He held this office for over 16 years and was an extremely effective veterans voice when addressing Congress. Members of both political parties contacted him about all veterans issues. John Rowan will remain active in VVA and will continue to work on behalf of veterans. Congratulations to all the Officers, Directors, and Regional Directors elected in 2021.

Region 2 was well represented once again at the Convention. We even had a delegate from Delaware. I would like to thank everyone who voted for me to remain Region 2 Director for another two years. I will keep working on behalf of my fellow Vietnam veterans and all veterans, and I will carry out these responsibilities to the best of my ability. Much more work remains to be done to make sure all veterans have access to VA health care and disability benefits.

Numerous chapters throughout Region 2 continue to support VVA chapters around the country devastated by weather disasters by donating financial aid. Chapter 1105 members went so far as to fill a 16-foot truck with much-needed supplies and drive from Delaware to Western Kentucky to make the delivery themselves.

I want to thank all the members from Region 2 for the support you have given me over the years. I promise to work as hard as I can for our region as I always have.

Some of you are aware that I suffered a stroke in the middle of December. It has affected my vision, but I have all the faith in the world that this will clear up and I will be back to preforming my duties. Although using a computer is not easy right now, my phone works and I still have my appetite, so please call if you need me.

Again thanks, and I will see you all soon.

Rest in peace Gary B. Beikirch, Medal of Honor recipient and the first President of the New York State Council.

Region 3 has survived yet another year, although members have passed away, not only from COVID-19, but from health factors associated with age. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there are roughly 640,000 living Vietnam veterans. It makes you stop and think where we will be in a short five-and-a-half years.

Getting back to Region 3 and our seven southeastern states, I drove to Nashville to attend the Tennessee State Council elections for president and vice president. Elected by a very close margin were Barry Rice as president and Bill Norton as vice president. The election was held because Region 3 has a lot of factors surfacing in the near future. The Region 3 conference, which will be held in Tennessee in 2023, requires time, a lot of planning, and lots of organization.

The other six states are doing well and slowly becoming more active. At least state meetings are back, and the great gift of communication is in place and working. We hope the new strain of the virus will subside, and business will be back to some type of normalcy.

At the January BOD meeting in Silver Spring, we had the opportunity to see and talk with our brothers-in-arms about our future.

Where did 2021 go? Can you believe it is 2022 already and the 2021 Convention is now in the past? We begin the new year with a new National President, Jack McManus. John Rowan is now a past president. Thank you, John, for all the good you have done for us over the years. We all need to support Jack as he continues to move us forward.

I would like to thank all who voted for me and had enough faith in me to be your Region 4 Director for another two years. I hope we can get the virus under control and have a Region 4 get-together. We’d like to have it in Pensacola, Florida, where we had planned to before the virus put everything on hold.

At the Convention, AVVA changed its rules for dual membership. Now we can join for $50 as a life dual member. It’s to our advantage to join. After all, as long as the AVVA exists we will keep our name. AVVA is open to everyone, which means our children and grandchildren can join. That could mean years after we are gone, our legacy will continue. Let’s work to build AVVA and make this a reality.

We voted at the Convention to be a last-person-standing organization. AVVA will keep our legacy and name as long as it is in existence.

VVA membership continues to grow; we only need nine hundred to reach 90,000 members. We are gaining about 250 members each month. Unfortunately, we are losing about a hundred a month. Usually Region 4 is among the top five each month for new members. New chapters are continuing to be chartered. Augusta, Georgia, for example, soon will have a chapter. The paperwork should be complete as you read this report. Florida has a new chapter in the progress.

I have heard a lot of talk about attendance at chapter meetings being a problem. What can we do to improve attendance? Is it the time of meetings, distance to the meetings, or needing someone to drive members to the meeting places? As we begin to ask why, we can then work to get the problem resolved.

So, with all the good things going on, we need to continue moving forward, have a good time, and continue our fellowship. Most of the challenging work is behind us, and we can now slow down and enjoy life.

We need to work together to make 2022 the best year ever. Thank you for all that you do for Region 4 and VVA. It is a pleasure and honor to be your director. Should you have any questions or concerns, do not hesitate to let me know. My phone number is 912-387-6551 and email address is vvagsc@aol.com

May God bless us, our families, and our country and keep us safe.

We survived the National Convention. It was one of the most intense ones I’ve experienced in the 32 years I have been attending them. The delegates set the course for the future of VVA. Region 5 had 131 delegates from four states.

Since the Convention I attended the Indiana State Council meeting November 20th. It was held at Chapter 295’s building in Indianapolis, and it also was the chapter’s Thanksgiving and Christmas meeting. I was accompanied by Mike Goodpaster, the Michigan Downriver Chapter 259 president. It was an informative meeting with much discussion of the VSO program. I would like to thank Pat Bessigano, the Indiana State Council president, for the meal and the door prizes.

On December 4 my wife Debby and I, along with VP Tom Burke and his wife Robin, attended the Macomb County, Michigan, Chapter 154 annual Christmas party and fundraiser. It was a huge success, even with a smaller crowd in attendance. On December 10 Debby and I attended the Buckeye State Council Executive Board Christmas dinner. The Executive Board met the following day. It was announced that Don Jones was retiring as the administrator for the Buckeye State Council. He will be missed. The Buckeye s Board meeting was run in a professional matter by SC President Cliff Riley. Much information was disseminated.

Thank you for re-electing me Region 5 Director.

The Convention is over and the delegates have spoken: VVA is a last-person-standing organization.

I would like to thank Bob Grabinski for his four years of dedication and service on behalf of Region 6. I thank the region’s delegates for their support in electing me as the Region 6 Director for the next two years.

I encourage all Region 6 state council presidents to ask to serve on a national committee so the region will be well represented on the committees to enable active participation and information-sharing.

Let us all continue our efforts to increase membership and keep the VVA state councils and chapters active in their communities.

If COVID permits, we will have a Region 6 conference this year.

Another National Convention has come and gone. I would like to congratulate new National President Jack McManus. I also would like to thank outgoing President John Rowan for the long and dedicated service he rendered to our organization.

To the newly elected Officers and Board members congratulations also are in order. And to the Board members who decided not to run for another term, thank you for your service. This year the delegates had a slate of great candidates to choose from. Unfortunately, not all of them could make the cut, but I hope everyone will try again. It’s the new blood that will keep our organization fresh and vibrant.

Louisiana will hold its Mid-Winter Conference in Baton Rouge February 18-19 at the Drury Inn.

I contacted the Arkansas State Council President to find out if any chapters were affected in his state by the recent tornados. I was informed that he has no chapters in northern Arkansas. Kentucky seems to have gotten the worst of it. I ask that the state councils in Region 7 please try to send relief to the Kentucky State Council in their time of need.

In closing, I would like to remind everyone in Region 7 that it is once again time to elect our state council and chapter officers. I wish everyone good luck in the upcoming elections.

I would like to thank all the Region 8 delegates who attended the National Convention in Greensboro in November. We were well represented from every state. Every delegate attended our Region caucus and remained until all candidates finished presenting their platforms. This is a reflection of how serious our commitment is when we attend a National Convention. We support the newly elected officers and are pleased that we will remain a last-man-standing organization.

All states in Region 8 continue to serve veterans and their families with extraordinary success. We attended local Veterans Day parades and represented VVA by marching and riding on floats. During the Skagit Valley Veterans Day Parade I proudly rode the VVA float, along with President Ande Mitchelle and members of Chapter 1109 in Burlington, Washington. Washington State Council Secretary Odis Warren represented VVA at the Auburn Veterans Day Parade, while Joel Ware, the President of Chapter 102, and his members marched in the parade.

I had the opportunity to join the Oregon State Council Zoom meeting on December 11. It was an excellent meeting with much being shared by President Jim Fleming and delegates representing their chapters. One of the main discussions centered on the visit of The Wall That Heals and Mobile Education Center to La Pine, Oregon.

One week after the Oregon State Council meeting I was invited by AVVA Region 8 Director and President Jennifer Ellis and Vice President Ruth Feliciano, of AVVA Chapter 805 in Roseburg, Oregon, to attend the VVA/AVVA Veterans Christmas Dinner. It was an excellent event with great attendance. Ellis and Feliciano received the Volunteer Honoring the Warrior medal from Jaycee Newman, the secretary of the Oregon State Council. A special thanks to Bill Duncan, the president of VVA Chapter 805, for his effective leadership

The Region 8 leadership will continue to provide effective services to veterans and their families and stay involved with events and activities that honor and pay tribute to our fellow veterans. We are dealing with different enemies now COVID and its variants but like in Vietnam, neither I nor my brothers will fail in taking those hills. As we did then, we will depend on each other, and we will prevail.

Wishing everyone the best for the New Year.



Father Time has taken the year 2021 away and the baby New Year of 2022 has arrived.

How was 2021? The year came in with two vaccines being developed and offered to all veterans. There was an increased use of virtual platforms by state councils and chapters to stay in touch. Some state councils and chapters used virtual platforms more frequently, and some began to use hybrid formats, combining virtual and face-to-face meetings. The print version of The VVA Veteran came back, after being online-only since the summer of 2020.

By the second quarter of 2021, we saw regional, state council, chapter meetings, and conferences being held in person with proper precautions. Membership numbers started rising as we approached the 89,000 mark, which was accomplished in November. A National Convention was held with some 700 delegates attending. Vietnam Veterans of America is coming back from the pandemic as strong as ever.

During the year I was able to attend meetings in seven states, but couldn’t get to the Philippines or Guam. The chapters there are still dealing with travel restrictions due to the pandemic. I hope 2022 will see those restrictions lifted. National Board meetings are being scheduled. In fact, I attended one in January.

I will continue to advocate for Region 9 veterans and their families as I attend state council, chapter, and national meetings.

I pray that you all stay safe and well and check on your buddies. Get back in the habit of attending meetings and renewing efforts to recruit new members. In the meantime, I am available by email. You can contact me at dsouthern@vva.org with any questions or concerns.


Welcome to 2022. I am looking forward to digging my heels in and resuming the momentum to serve our nation’s veterans. I met amazing people at the 2021 VVA National Convention who had remarkable insights into what is needed to improve the organization. Clear, concise messages seem to top the list. I made promises to investigate every request and set goals to accomplish those recommendations. We need to remember that united we stand and if divided, we fall.

VVA has much work to do to ensure that veterans programs are adequately funded in a fair and equitable way.

On the home front, I continue to provide support to the Nebraska Vietnam Veterans Memorial Foundation and its Education History Committee. I chair a remarkable team of volunteers that exceeds our expectations daily. We logged close to 6,000 hours in 2021 and will continue until the memorial crosses the finish line. The Board continues to engage in a capital campaign and fundraising. A sad event occurred in 2021 with the loss of Howard Ball, who chaired the Public Relations Committee. It is a reminder that as we age and as we pass on, those left behind will keep the torch burning brightly.

On the VVA front, as the new chair of the VVA Finance Committee and former Budget Oversight Subcommittee chair, I want to thank Barry Rice (Tennessee SC president) and Kerwin Stone (Director At-Large who is retiring) for their service on the subcommittee. The Finance Committee will continue the arduous work of balancing the budget; providing funding for VVA programs; and reminding the Board that its fiduciary responsibility is to keep an open mind, ask questions, answer questions from members, and learn from those questions.

On the veteran front, helping veterans file, follow up, and navigate the VA’s Compensation and Pension claims system is intriguing because of the differences in how claims are handled; who works with veterans with respect and dignity; and who is willing to go the extra mile for a veteran by wading through VA paperwork. It continues to be perplexing that there are too many layers in the VA to settle a claim, and not enough final review of a claim unless the veteran has the wherewithal to ask for help. Intimidation seems to trump, and many veterans are left with a puzzling outcome. This is shameful.

Region 6 (Motley Crue): The Minnesota State Council has plans to close. I am very disappointed that with all the hard work Region 6 has put forth to connect the eight states in our region and to connect with other regions, that now we are facing closure. I am confident that the other Region 6 state council presidents loudly protested or offered to help this voting entity stay afloat.

I met a new veteran friend in 2021 who said that he would never join an organization unless he could vote, because without a vote you have no power. I will take my right to vote to my grave, and although my comments may be too late, I do not want to see the great state of Minnesota lose a vote, retire their Motley Crue badge, or lose a connection to VVA.

It will take all hands on deck, in person or in virtual meetings, to continue all the VVA platforms and initiatives, and to be remembered as an organization that worked until it took its last breath. Do I need to transfer my membership to Minnesota?

Mission Statement: My highest priority and commitment is to ensure that the veterans who served for us will be served by us.

Thank you for your support. If you have any comments, questions, or concerns, please feel free to contact me at drbarickman@hotmail.com or 712-314-1808 (cell).


VVA is touted as a veterans service organization and it is. Its Officers and Board members, except for the chair of the CSCP, however, are not elected directly by the members. Instead, VVA is governed basically by Officers and a Board elected by Convention delegates who do not need to be elected. Each chapter can send delegates determined by the number of members in the chapter. Not every member gets to go to the Convention and vote.

The CSCP, on the other hand, is a body composed of state council presidents elected to their positions by delegates who are required to be elected by members of the chapters they represent at the council. Those delegates, in turn, elect a state council president. The chair of the CSCP is not elected by Convention delegates like all the other voting members of the VVA Board. The chair is elected by the state council presidents.

The VVA Constitution specifies that the chair is a voting member of the VVA National Board of Directors. This distinction with the chair being a VVA official whose election is traced to the membership is reflected in the VVA Constitution that mandates that the National Board address opinions and recommendations from the CSCP.

The CSCP is the members voice on the National Board. Members have a say and should not feel left out. Members should reach out to their state council delegates and their state council presidents to indicate troubling issues. Matters that come to the Conference from the membership will be addressed, and if the CSCP determines it’s appropriate, the chair takes the matter to the Board.

The CSCP takes much of its concerns from Convention resolutions and issues discussed at the Conventions and Leadership Conferences. If members have concerns about what VVA is doing, how it is doing it, or how VVA operates, they may attend national committee meetings at the Conventions and attend the Leadership Conferences. A member may not be able to vote at a Convention, but his or her voice can be heard at these committee meetings where usually anyone can speak up.

As chair of the CSCP, I promise you I will take those issues that the conferees determine relevant to the Board. I am a voting member of the Board. I will represent you to the best of my abilities.




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