|Vietnam Veterans of America|
DON’T SHOOT THE EDITOR
I have watched with some amusement the controversy over the letter by John Thompson in the March/April 2021 issue and the feedback from it. I don’t agree with most of the rhetoric around this topic, but I see the quandary for the editor. I’ve had the honor for the last 35 years to be in the publishing industry. My last position was as a plant manager with more than 75 employees in a print plant dealing mostly with the news.
I’ve also had the honor to be acquainted and work with some of the finest editors and publishers from my early days of flipping ink to where I ended up. I’ve rubbed elbows with Pulitzer Prize winners along the way. An editor has a very tough job deciding what to publish and what belongs in the “out of reality” category. It’s not that easy, brothers. Just when I thought I had all the answers an editor would bring up, another idea totally destroyed my vision of a perfect world.
I hope all will have their say and be able to say it in this free world that we fought for, and only be judged on their merits. The editor has a job to do, so don’t shoot him for trying to do what’s right. That’s all I’m trying to say.
I was almost surprised by an omission from Marc Leepson’s article, “Vaxxed and Maxxed,” in the November/December issue. The omission was that voters also disapproved an effort to retire GA-21, which still requires the Board to bring to the membership a plan to expand membership and to change our name. PR-11 (now GA-23) and GA-21 seem to be at odds with each other, but their supporters share significant common ground.
Supporters of PR-11 and GA-21 have in common their commitment to the motto: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” The great work of VVA should be continued long into the future. Opening our ranks to those veterans who see the value of our mission, our work, and our legacy is a great way to do that. Developing a future for VVA is a job that we directed the organizational hierarchy to do by 2021 though GA-21. Now we know we must do it ourselves. The folks who spoke in favor of PR-11 said they were only trying to prevent action by the Board and the National Officers. They said they were not trying to stop members from taking action. So, let’s act.
Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310 in Michigan has approved a resolution to amend Article I, Section 3, Paragraph A by deleting the words “during the dates established by federal law for the Vietnam War” from our statement of membership. This will not require congressional or IRS approval and will not require a name change. It just opens the door to those exceptional veterans who want to keep doing what we have been doing—looking out for our military family including those who come after us.
Let’s get ’er done!
GOOD OLE BOYS
The cover of the November/December issue said it all: a resolution in favor of retaining and reinforcing membership of the Good Ole Boys Club of veterans who served in-country during the Vietnam War.
I’m not a combat veteran but rather a clipboard weenie who served in a B-52 support squadron as a missile systems analyst from 1962-66. I’m a member of Chapter 235 in Alexandria, Minnesota.
I became a member because of VVA’s Founding Principle: Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another. Resolution 11 left no doubt in anybody’s mind that VVA cares only about veterans who are defined by boots on the ground in Vietnam during 1964-75. How is it conceivable then that VVA can live up to this principle when it decided to vote itself out of existence?
VVA squandered an unbelievable opportunity to take the organization to the next level as a respected, inclusionary one welcoming all veterans who took the oath to protect and defend the Constitution. This now all goes away as a respected organization withers, fades away, and finally collapses well before the last man is left standing.
I am saddened to think how close VVA came to becoming an all-encompassing, inclusive organization welcoming ALL honorable veterans, caring for ALL veterans and their families, and supporting the communities in which ALL veterans live, work, and raise families.
I am shocked but not really surprised by the last-man-standing vote. What a waste of a gutsy, tenacious, and dynamic veterans organization. I see that the majority of Vietnam veterans (at least the delegates who voted) are as mad and selfish as we all were back when we came home to the protests and craziness of the late 1960s and early ’70s. From that craziness VVA was born out of necessity.
We don’t appear to have learned a thing about inclusion, forgiveness, or treating others as we wish to be treated. I am utterly ashamed and extremely saddened by this vote of selfishness. What a FUBAR. There is no honor in this vote.
MAN OF VISION
I wish to express my gratitude for the resilience and steadfastness of former VVA President John Rowan. Some people are meant to be leaders, and John certainly surpassed this milestone. I for one could not have achieved or dedicated myself the way John did during his tenure and for that I am truly grateful.
Thank you, John Rowan, for being a man of vision and leadership.
Glenn Waggoner, Jr.
DEBT OF GRATITUDE
Like thousands of other members, I was surprised to read in the November/December issue about John Rowan’s departure from a position that he has held with a great deal of class and charisma. During his 16-year tenure, he consistently fought congressional battles for all of us, and his winning track record highlights the devotion he gave VVA from Day One.
Every single VVA member owes him an immeasurable debt of gratitude for molding VVA into the organization it is today—and the organization that has been the bedrock for all other veterans organizations.
Thanks for everything. Now it’s time for you and your family.
FIRST TIME RUNNING
I would like to thank each and every one of you who voted for me at our National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. I was truly honored by your support of my candidacy for National At-Large Board member. It was my first time running for national office. I invite you to come to Florida in two years, and I will try again with your support.
FUN BUT FLAWED
Your most recent Veteran was fun and the pictures nice. The one of me, however, suggested a sloppiness and lack of good writing. The caption says I made a point of order on the floor. Throughout the Convention I made several comments on the floor, but I never made a point of order. I may have commented and suggested what I consider points relevant to ongoing matters, but I did not make a parliamentary point of order as suggested.
The paragraph further goes on to specify requirements for the chair. The chair is separate from the AVVA that is a non-voting special adviser to the board. Your including the chair with the AVVA rep on page 1 of The Veteran suggests the chair has such a lesser role. Please fix that. It connotes a lesser role.
What also is lacking is your coverage of the Convention. One of the first events was CSCP, where the chair, the board’s first new member, was elected by a member-based election. Continuation of the previous chair’s name and its placement does not exude confidence in your reporting. That and not correctly identifying me as the chair in your photo on page 14 are sloppy work.
I apologize if I am a bit upset at this but I feel that possibly most members do not understand what the CSCP is or what it can do. Your publication does not help in that regard.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Now that the Agent Orange Committee Chair position has been taken from me, I find life without a goal is becoming very difficult. Reading the Bible helps me deal with disappointment in life. VVA for 32 years made time for me to help veterans and their families in many different ways. Now I find it hard to permit myself leisure time.
I felt that I always did what a good chair would. I held meetings electronically during this pandemic. I wrote my columns for The Veteran. Reported on the status of current VVA resolutions and submitted new ones for Conventions.
One thing I always said to my committee is that the members of the committee made me look good. I always gave credit to the grassroots where the real hard work is done. I always gave credit where credit is due. I did my best to be a good chair.
I got involved with the Agent Orange issue at the first Faces of Agent Orange town hall at the 2009 National Convention. It had affected me, my brother, my son, and both of my granddaughters. That was reason enough to do what I needed to do to fight the good fight.
I have completed 60 town hall meetings in the upper Midwest to educate veterans and their families. It took us eight long years to get legislation passed and signed into law in December 2016. For all this I wanted nothing but to help veterans and their families. Early on I told people that I did not want a VVA Commendation Medal. My award was many thank-yous after each town hall. No medal could provide a more sincere thank-you.
Thirty-two years of loyal service to a veterans service organization that I was proud of is gone in an instant. I want to thank all those who supported me as chair: my AO Committee members, special advisers, grassroots, VVA staff members, my family, and many others.
A TRUE PATRIOT
Imagine my surprise when I saw Books in Review in the last issue. I heard John Musgrave speak when Ken Burns came to Kansas City to tell us about his documentary on the war. A couple of years later a local VFW post held a dedication for a special wall to honor veterans, and John was the keynote speaker. Fast forward another couple years, and I find out that a close friend of mine dated John a long time ago.
This being said, I was privileged to meet and talk at length with John. He is a very humble man, and so darned easy to talk to. He is a true patriot and an absolute hero. We also have something in common, as I served with the 25th Inf. Div. in 1968.
Glad to see you back in print. Keep up the good work.
Issues with missing information on DD-214s are very common and difficult to update. I was drafted in May 1968 and separated from Active Duty in 1970. Just a few weeks later my Inactive Reserve status was changed to Active Reserve for about 12 months before becoming inactive again.
My DD-214 was mostly blank with just a name, rank, and service number (and the rank was wrong). None of my awards appeared except for a Good Conduct Medal. No mention of being in country, no Basic Training, AIT, NCO Academy, or a laundry list of other items except for my last duty station, which was a short time in Germany. It just says “EUROP.”
I tried for years to fix this mess but failed. I even sent copies of everything to the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, but still no luck. To make matters worse, I rejoined the Army Reserves and stayed Active Reserves for eight years.
After this, I contacted the Records Center again to update my file with my Army Reserve schools, awards, and certificates, and to try to update my Active information. I finally received a DD-215 that showed some—but not all—items from Active Duty and Reserves. I tried a few more times to update my records but failed.
I am now 72. I was drafted five days after my 19th birthday in 1968, and I still do not have an accurate DD-214 or DD-215.
John De Leone
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