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VVA Committee Reports, November/December 2022 -   -  

Elections Committee Report

Vietnam Veterans of America will conduct its election of all National Officer and Board positions during the 21st National Convention to be held August 8-12 in Orlando, Florida.

The Elections Committee invites you to think about your future role in the leadership of VVA. The committee encourages all those who are considering running for office to think about whether you are willing to take on the responsibilities of an Officer or Board member.

The election process begins January 1, 2023, when the committee starts accepting Letters of Intent and welcomes those who aspire to be VVA leaders.


VVA National President

VVA National Vice President

VVA National Secretary

VVA National Treasurer

VVA National Board of Directors (At-large) [All Ten Seats]

VVA National Board of Directors (Regional) [All Nine Seats]

All National Officer and Board positions are for terms of two years, beginning at the close of the 2023 National Convention, through the close of the 2025 National Convention.


Candidates for all positions open for election must be individual members of VVA in good standing.

Candidates for National Officer positions must meet the requirements to hold office as set forth in the VVA National Constitution under Article I, Section 5, Paragraph A.

To wit: “To qualify for election… to any of these offices, a candidate must have been an individual member of the Corporation, in good standing, (1) for a continuous period of not less than twelve months immediately preceding the opening of the National Convention at which such candidate seeks election; and (2) such candidate must have held a position as an officer or board member at the national level or as an officer at the state council or chapter level, during any continuous period of twelve months prior to the date of the opening of the National Convention.”

Candidates for At-large and Regional Board of Directors must meet the requirements to hold office as set forth in the VVA National Constitution, Article I, Section 4, Paragraph B (1 and 2) for Regional Directors, and Article I, Section 4, Paragraph B (1 and 3) for At-large Directors.

To wit: “To qualify for election, a candidate must have been a member of the Corporation, in good standing, for a continuous period of not less than the twelve months immediately preceding the opening of the National Convention at which the candidate seeks election…. The candidate must have held an elected position at the national, state, or chapter level for any continuous period of twelve months prior to the date of the opening of the National Convention.”

In addition, candidates for Regional Board positions must reside within the region they wish to represent.


Prospective candidates must submit a Letter of Intent to the VVA Elections Committee, postmarked no later than March 31, 2023. Those considering running for office will need to include telephone numbers, email addresses, and physical mailing addresses in the Letter of Intent or on a separate sheet of paper. Prospective candidates also must include the position they seek. A prospective candidate may run for only one position. The Elections Committee will send the Candidate’s Packet by email unless otherwise requested.

The Elections Committee will begin accepting Letters of Intent on January 1, 2023, at the following address (please do not send before this date): VVA ELECTIONS COMMITTEE, c/o Adolph Gardner, 7 Crum Road, Walkersville, MD 21793-8018. Any Letter of Intent that does not meet the March 31 postmark requirement or is sent to any other address will be considered invalid and will not be accepted by the Elections Committee.

The Elections Committee encourages everyone considering running for office to send in a Letter of Intent. Don’t get behind the curve; become a known candidate sooner than later. The more time you have to become known as a candidate, the more recognized you will be at the Convention. If you decide not to run after sending in your Letter of Intent, you may simply submit a signed and witnessed letter stating that you are withdrawing.


After the March 31 deadline, potential candidates intending to run from the floor cannot announce their intent to run for office either publicly or privately; cannot campaign in any way or distribute any campaign materials, including on the Internet; and cannot accept any contributions prior to being approved as a candidate by the Elections Committee at the Convention. Any violation of this rule will result in disqualification from the election process.


Incumbent Officers and Board members should refer to the VVA Board Policies Reference Guide, under Strategic Documents, Travel Policy, Additional Criteria, page 64: H(2)(a-b). Once you have announced your candidacy, this VVA Board policy applies to your travel and budget expenditures.


Once the Elections Committee has received a candidate’s Letter of Intent, the Candidate Packet will be emailed, unless you request it be sent by the U.S. Postal Service. These packets contain important information, instructions, and rules regarding the conduct of the election process that are of vital importance to every candidate. Included in these packets will be forms. Candidates are required to complete the forms and return them to the Elections Committee.

When the packet is sent by email, it will be in a PDF format and the forms will be fillable and printable, with the exception of the signature block. We also will request a delivery receipt to ensure that candidates have received the packet.

All forms must be sent back to the committee by U.S. mail (Return Receipt Requested). For candidates requesting that physical packets be mailed, they will be sent via Certified Mail-Return Receipt Requested. Questions should be directed to Adolph Gardner at 301-845-4296 or by email at adolphgard@aol.com

The Candidate Packet will include a deadline calendar that lists events and dates. Failure to meet any of the deadlines will be grounds for disqualification.


Candidates may use the national flag of the United States, the VVA national logo, and the VVA national flag on their campaign material. No VVA, state council, or chapter letterhead may be used. Campaign materials are considered to be (but are not limited to) buttons, pins, brochures, posters, pictures, emails, and websites. A photograph of a candidate wearing his or her VVA national, state council, or chapter lapel pin is acceptable. A photograph of a candidate who is wearing a jacket, shirt, or hat that has a VVA national, state council, or chapter logo or patch on it is also acceptable.

Candidates may not solicit or accept campaign contributions in any form from VVA or from any VVA state council or chapter. Campaign contributions are considered to be (but are not limited to) money, paper, envelopes, postage, free printing, free phone calls, use of websites, and use of emails.

Candidates may not solicit or accept any campaign endorsements from VVA, any VVA state council, chapter, or VVA newsletters, newspapers, or web sites.

Candidates may solicit and accept campaign contributions and endorsements from any member of VVA, provided that the contributions or endorsements are not in violation of rules and that any written endorsements are on the individual’s personal stationery. It is strictly prohibited for any person to use VVA national, state council, or chapter letterhead, website, or email for the purpose of writing letters of endorsement.

A candidate’s own website or email may be used to campaign. The Candidate Packet has more detailed instructions on this. If you choose to start using your website once we have received your Letter of Intent and prior to receiving your packet, you must send your campaign email address to Terry Nolan at tnolan1.tn@gmail.com. His phone number is 602-618-5988.

Failure to abide by all rules, instructions, and requirements set forth in this announcement and the Candidate Packet will result in disqualification from the election.

The Elections Committee: Scott DeArman, Chair; Jill Mishkel, Adolph Gardner, Terry Nolan and Ben Humphries.

Resolutions Committee Report

The purpose of the Resolutions Committee is to fulfill Article I, National Provisions, Section 7, Committees, Paragraph A.4. of the VVA National Constitution:

“The Resolutions Committee shall report the resolutions to be addressed by the delegates assembled from among those submitted by the chapters, state councils, standing committees, membership, or other sources. Provided, however, that any such resolution shall be filed with the Resolution Committee at least one-hundred twenty (120) days prior to the commencement of the National Convention, at which resolutions are to be addressed.

“The Resolutions Committee shall review proposed resolutions received, and shall, not less than sixty (60) days prior to the commencement of the National Convention, forward to the chapters and state councils copies of all proposed resolutions submitted to the Committee pursuant to this section along with the Committee’s recommended action regarding each proposed resolution. Resolutions not reported by the Resolutions Committee may be brought to the floor for debate and action upon the motion of any delegate and concurrence by a majority of the delegates.”


Proposed Resolutions must be received or postmarked no later than April 1, 2023. The Resolutions Committee will mail all the proposed resolutions with appropriate committees’ recommended actions to all state councils and chapters no later than May 17 by first-class mail.

Proposed resolutions must be submitted to the National Resolutions Committee on the official resolution form located at https://vva.org/convention-resolution/ Completed forms may also be emailed to shodge@vva.org or mailed or delivered to:

Vietnam Veterans of America

ATTN: Resolutions Committee

8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Constitution Committee Report

The 21st National Convention in Orlando will begin on August 9, 2023. You may now submit proposed constitutional amendments. Any VVA member, chapter, or state council can submit a proposal for a constitutional amendment.

Constitutional amendments may be submitted electronically using the online form available on the VVA website under the “Info for Members” tab (https://vva.org/constitutional-amendment) or may be mailed to the VVA national office using a printed copy of the online form or the form that will appear in The VVA Veteran.

Forms not submitted online should be mailed to the national office at the address below, postmarked no later than April 1, 2023, at 12 midnight or faxed to (301) 585-3180 with time received no later than April 1, 2023, at 12 midnight.

The deadline for submitting proposed constitutional amendments is April 1, 2023 (“at least 120 days prior to the commencement of the National Convention,” per the VVA Constitution, Article IV, Section 5). No proposals will be accepted after midnight, April 1st. The Constitution Committee will meet in April to review all proposed amendments and prepare its report to the membership. The committee’s report will be mailed to state councils and chapters and will be available on the VVA website no later than June 10, 2023.

The committee will hold an open hearing at the Convention before the amendments are presented to the delegates for action. We encourage everyone to attend.

Vietnam Veterans of America

ATTN: Constitution Committee

8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100

Silver Spring, MD 20910

Women's Committee Report

It was a stormy day for this year’s 40th Anniversary Commemoration at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Miraculously, the downpour stopped just prior to the ceremony. The speakers included Secretary of Defense Gen. Lloyd Austin and Native American Capt. Connie Evans, who served as an Army nurse in the Vietnam War. She spoke of her work at 12th Evac Hospital at Cu Chi, and it brought tears to many of us. I was proud to see the VVA color guards from so many states and territories.

October 14-16 was the 25th anniversary of the Military Women’s Memorial (formerly WIMSA). VVA Treasurer Linda Schwartz and I attended the events. There were luncheons and ceremonies, including speakers from all the branches of the military. The candlelight walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the MWM was as spirited as ever. The names of all women servicemembers lost since 9/11 were read as we placed rose petals in front of the memorial.

VVA presented a wreath to Gen. Wilma Vaught during the dedication of a new room named in her honor at the renovated Memorial. Without her determination and passion, this memorial would not have been built. The Memorial continues to grow its database of women veterans. If you haven’t signed up, please do so.

The committee met in November, and it was great to be able to meet in person again. Vice Chair Sandy Miller brought up new information regarding benefits for Military Sexual Trauma that would include retroactive pay for outstanding claims.

You can see the third roundtable of the VA’s Cancer Cabinet Community Conversation series on breast and gynecologic oncology care and treatment, access, and equity at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v96br6YdxWw

The Honoring our PACT Act of 2022 became law, and it includes many of the longstanding women veteran care and benefit issues that our committee has been working on. However, six bills dealing with women veterans’ issues most likely will die in committee at the end of this congressional cycle. We need to continue to address issues such as those in S. 1198, Solid Start Act of 2022; S. 4700, Equal Access to Contraception Act; H.R. 2385, Justice for Women Act, Dignity for MST Survivors Act; HR. 344, Women Veterans TRUST Act; H.R. 7589, REMOVE Copays Act; and the Wound Warrior Research Enhancement Act. Please contact your members of Congress to talk about these legislative issues.

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the VA will offer abortion counseling and abortions in certain cases to pregnant veterans and beneficiaries. For more information, go to https://www.womenshealth.va.gov/topics/reproductive-health.asp and click on “Abortion Services.

It is time to start reviewing our committee resolutions for the next Convention. If you want to submit a resolution, go to the VVA website for submission guidelines. We are also looking ahead to the 30th Anniversary of the Vietnam Women’s Memorial next year.

The Women Veteran lapel pins may be purchased from the VVA National office. They are ten for $30. I always appreciate your comments and look forward to meeting again.

Veterans Incarcerated & In the Justice System


We had a trip in early December to make a unified visit to a Veteran Treatment Court, a District Attorney's office, a Public Defender's office, and a local correctional facility in Omaha, Nebraska, where we were greeted by Justine Wall, the Rehab Service Administrator at the Douglas County Correctional Facility, who took us to the Veteran's Ward.

We are also working with Modesto Garcia, chapter president, to complete travel plans to the Grafton Correctional Facility for a holiday visit with Chapter 559, near Cleveland, Ohio.

Under the leadership of Gary Newman, our Florida efforts for Veterans in The Justice System continue to advance. There is a program organized near Sebring to unify veterans in treatment court with inmates and judges in order to better understand the burdens of PTSD and TBI.

VA Voluntary Service


In the September/October issue, I reported that the VAMCs and the CBOCs (Clinics) were slowly reopening and trying to return to normal. As of the start of November, restrictions were being relaxed. The VA Central Office has allowed the VAMCs to make decisions on access, masking, screening, testing, and visitations based on community infection rate. These are monitored weekly.

Unfortunately, though, there has been a massive increase in RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus) cases recently. Along with the arrival of flu season and the continuing mix of COVID-19 variants, restrictions are very likely to return.

The rise in RSV and flu cases may be a danger to the fragile in-patient veteran population. The VA is offering the latest Covid booster, as well as flu shots. Getting both at the same time is often a good idea.

Flu shots are mandatory for VA employees. As a volunteer, you are considered an uncompensated VA employee, so that rule applies to you. Your local volunteer office will not allow you to interact with patients without getting a flu shot. Patient check-in is being modernized in the VA Health Care system, and volunteers will see changes such as smart phone apps replacing kiosks. Your local Volunteer Office will help you with the changes.

The holidays are near, and as we move into 2023, donations will decrease. This comes at a time when many VAMCs are running active food pantries for veterans, especially homeless veterans, as well as those leaving the hospitals and going into transitional living facilities. Some food pantries have been struggling during the pandemic, and some have shut down. The VA food pantries are stocked by volunteers and community groups, and are doing a great job serving veterans.

It is still important for Representatives and Deputies to attend VAVS (CDCE) meetings, either in person or virtually. If your VAMC is not holding these meetings, try to find out the reason. One way to do so would be to attend Volunteer Advisory Committee meetings and ask the Director. Have a great holiday season.

If you have any problems or questions, please contact me at krose@vva.org

Public Affairs Committee Report


Here’s hoping your Veterans Day was filled with activities to bring honor, respect, and high visibility to all veterans.

For those who participated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C, on November 11, saying thank you just doesn’t seem to be enough appreciation for your involvement. Seeing a Massing of the Colors with 33 Color Guards was incredible. Seeing everyone brave the rain before the ceremony was testament to the perseverance of all Vietnam War veterans — you demonstrated the stick-to-it attitude that has been a hallmark of all Vietnam veterans since we came home from the war.

It is still very important for VVA members to participate in community events to increase our visibility. Good Public Affairs programs have the tendency to have an impact on just about every part of our organization.

We will continue to focus on honoring Vietnam War veterans as we have done as a part of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War Commemoration. A new partnership is in the works between the Daughters of the American Revolution and the 50th Anniversary Committee. There will be many activities you will have the opportunity to be part of! I encourage state councils and chapters to seek out local DAR chapters to get involved in those activities.

In December, Wreaths Across America will again hold ceremonies in all 50 states and territories simultaneously. This year, the State Capitol program will be held on December 12, at 12 p.m. Eastern Time. On December 17, wreaths will be placed on the graves of veterans. This program is designed to teach young people to honor veterans and is an excellent opportunity for VVA’s visibility.

Now is a great time to build informative Vets In Classrooms programs. And if you have JROTC Units in your area schools, renew or start a new JROTC Medal program. JROTC medals may be presented to outstanding cadets throughout the entire school year. Details about the VVA JROTC and Eagle Scout Medal programs can be found on www.vva.org under the “Info For Members” button.

And finally, it’s time to begin preparing and submitting your nominations for the VVA national awards that will be presented at the National Convention in Orlando in August. Those awards go to the Member of the Year, State Council of the Year, Incarcerated Member of the Year, Chapter of the Year, and to the State Council and Chapter Newsletters, E-Newsletters, and Websites of the Year.

You may make more than one nomination, but please use a separate form for each nomination you submit. Print the form and mail it to: Vietnam Veterans of America, Attn: Awards Committee, 8719 Colesville Road, Suite 100, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Failure to include required signatures will result in disqualification. Nominations must be postmarked by March 31, 2023.

Finance Committee Report


As we near the end of 2022, the Finance Committee has taken advantage of virtual meetings. We also met in person during the week of Veterans Day. VVA’s Veterans Day Massing of the Colors on November 11 was an amazing tribute to fellow veterans. Everyone was awestruck at the comaraderie displayed.

On November 11, I presented the activities report to the VVA Board of Directors, which approved the new Budget Oversight policy, as well as the contracting and travel policies.

The Board also approved including an Annual Budget Process training session on the fall BOD agenda each year. We discussed what additional cost requests should go to the Finance Committee before going to the Board and reminded everyone that we should help cost centers remember when additional funds should be reviewed by the committee. We discussed motions scheduled to be retired and policies on how to communicate cost center overages with cost center managers. The committee alsp added another member, Ron Howard.

On November 8, the committee met in Silver Spring for our quarterly meeting. The guest speaker was investment broker Michael Hearn. We discussed the pros and cons of the Budget Process Training session and the three policies that went to the Board for approval. We also discussed best practices on how to communicate overages to cost centers.

The committee also held a Budget Process Training session on November 8. It went well. We decided that budget requests should align clearly with budget justifications and narratives; and that requests should be clearly stated. Another area was timeliness and date stamping all budget requests. We discovered that the cost center managers were not getting their monthly reports to review, and we resumed that process.

The committee met virtually on October 14 and approved the Budget Process Training PowerPoint presentation that was presented at the November Board meeting. Discussions were held on meeting protocols, including allowing Finance Committee members to answer questions.

The committee met virtually on September 9 to draft the Budget Process Training PowerPoint presentation. There were several edits before the final draft was approved. The committee approved the Contracting Policy, the Budget Oversight Policy, and the Travel Policy.

On July 15 the committee met virtually, and we approved sending $100 in memory of Kerwin Stone to his chapter in Texas.

The committee met virtually on June 1 to discuss the Contracting Policy, the Budget Oversight Policy, and the Travel Policy. The Contracting Policy went to the VVA legal staff for final review. The committee approved funds to be transferred from the investment account to the VVA account to cover the 2022 Life Membership Dues Rebates.

POW/MIA Affairs Committee Report

I was extremely gratified to see the announcement on October 27 by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency that U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Sanford I. Finger, of Miami Beach, Florida, who was killed during the Vietnam War, was accounted for on August 23.

Finger was assigned to the Army Air Force Regional Exchange, as the manager of the An Son Post Exchange, in October 1971. Less than a month later, on Oct. 26, Finger was lost when the CH-47B Chinook helicopter in which he was a passenger went down over water in bad weather while flying from Tuy Hoa to Cam Ranh Bay. Remains of four of the ten soldiers on board were recovered during search-and-rescue operations following the crash, but Finger was not accounted for.

Recovery attempts were made in 1974 when divers from the Joint Casualty Resolution Center investigated what was believed to be the crash site, but their search was unsuccessful. Several investigation-and-recovery efforts took place between 1994 and 2021. Then, in June 2021, a recovery mission discovered possible human remains and material evidence.

To identify Finger’s remains, scientists from DPAA used anthropological analysis, as well as material and circumstantial evidence. Additionally, scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA analysis.

Finger’s name is inscribed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., and listed on the American Battle Monuments Commission’s Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others who are unaccounted-for from the Vietnam War. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for.

We thank the DPAA and the government of Vietnam for their tireless work in this mission.


1,582 Americans are now listed by DPAA as missing and unaccounted from the Vietnam War:

Vietnam – 1,242

Laos – 285

Cambodia – 48

Peoples Republic of China territorial waters – 7

A joint investigation team conducted a series of investigations and surveys in Vietnam, after which two sets of remains from unilateral turnovers were repatriated. In August, DPAA worked with one host nation team to conduct last-known-alive advance work investigating seven incidents involving nine unaccounted-for servicemen; additional work on these cases is in progress. DPAA funded a short-notice host nation recovery team in August after a Vietnamese landowner recovered aircraft wreckage, possible human remains, and life-support items while digging in a shrimp pond.

In late May, a DPAA detachment in Thailand conducted a repatriation ceremony at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, ensuring the proper transfer of material evidence and possible remains recovered in northern Thailand.

The Vietnam War Identification Project (VWIP) produced two first-time identifications this quarter. In addition, three more partial identifications were produced, bringing the FY2022 total to seven. To date, 40 individual collections of possible human remains and materials have been closed, and 25 new accessions have been added to VWIP. Of the new cases, eight contain possible human remains and the rest include material evidence and life support.

Joint field operations in Laos have increased. Laos began authorizing an increased number of U.S. personnel in the country, allowing ground transportation to accessible sites, and is working with a private company to provide reliable, smaller-scale helicopter support to gain access to remote sites.

Vietnamese witnesses are also being allowed to participate, resulting in joint U.S.-Lao-Vietnamese operations. The Lao government authorized two additional officials to work year-round with DIA’s Stony Beach POW/MIA specialist, who works in-country full time.


At the end of the Vietnam War, there were 2,583 Americans classified as prisoners, missing, or killed in action/body not recovered. Today, the Department of Defense lists 1,582 Americans as missing and unaccounted-for, 90 percent of them in Vietnam or in areas of Cambodia and Laos where Vietnamese forces operated during the war.

VVA’s Veterans Initiative Program needs your help. Objects taken from the battlefields of Vietnam are more than souvenirs or war trophies. Maps, stories, after-action reports, pictures, and military items may have a story that could result in finding the location of missing war dead.

Contact the Veterans Initiative at:

Veterans Initiative Program
Vietnam Veterans of America
8719 Colesville Rd., Suite 100
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910


Minority Affairs Committee Report


Greetings from the Minority Affairs Committee with apologies for the lack of updates since April. We are excited to see the return of committee reports in the print edition of The Veteran.

The committee held our seminar at the Leadership Conference in August, focusing on Native American Vietnam veterans. Chuck Odom, Francisco Ivarra, and I did the presentation. It was well-presented, and very educational, thanks to the materials Odom and Ivarra talked about.

The committee continues to work with the Korean American VALOR Act (H.R. 234). Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and is a proponent of the bill, was able to submit it as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed in the House. We are working to insure that the amendment is adopted by the Senate.

I want to encourage Marine veterans to be aware of law firm advertisements concerning the Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuit. Be sure that you contact a VVA VSO or your local VSO to learn the details about filing a lawsuit with a law firm and what that could cost you.

The committee recently had an informative meeting with Gregorio Kishketon, a program analyst at the VA Center for Minority Veterans, who spoke to us about Native American veterans. Among other things, we learned about their health care, housing, and VA benefits needs. The Committee will be working on how VVA can help with those issues. At the National Convention in Orlando in August, the Committee will present a workshop on Native American veterans’ education issues.

More than 40 Korean Vietnam veterans also visited the committee. The VVA Membership Committee had voted unanimously to offer them honorary membership in VVA, and the board approved the idea. As many as 132 Korean Vietnam War veterans have since been made honorary VVA members.

The committee is also working on the issue of getting Korean Vietnam War veterans living in the U.S. access to VA medical care. VVA members need to make this a reality for Korean Vietnam War veteran brothers. They supported us in Vietnam, saved many American lives, were exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals, and have the same health problems that American Vietnam War veterans do, including PTSD.

We need you to call your members of Congress and ask them to sponsor legislation that would give these veterans the same benefits that their fellow American Vietnam War veterans receive.

It is my wish that you enjoy your upcoming holidays with your families and that all be blessed.

PTSD/SA Committee Report


When we returned home from war and sought help for the invisible wounds that resulted from our experiences, the VA did not recognize PTSD as a real concern. Veterans were shuffled around to psychologists and psychiatrists and generally told they weren’t eligible for services — or were misdiagnosed. Only a few veterans who had extreme cases were treated, and only for a short period of time.

After years of pressure from Vietnam veterans and from VVA, in 1979 Congress began establishing Readjustment Counseling Services, AKA Vet Centers. The founding principal of the Vet Center program was creating a place for peer-to-peer counseling. Vietnam War veterans — myself included — began to use Vet Centers and get the behavioral health support they needed and deserved.

However, as more veterans are given eligibility for this care, paired with a national shortage of mental health providers and with more and more requirements from VA moving the Vet Centers more toward medical models and standards, they have strayed far from peer-to-peer path.

Today, the VA’s Vet Center leaders are pressuring counselors to see more veterans than the recommendation of their own clinical Capacity Group, despite a 2015 VA report that analyzed the clinical capacity workload for Vet Centers and found that many have exceeded their “real capacity.” The report recommended that the productivity standard for counselors be set at 18 visits from clients per week — two fewer than the 20 visit per week standard.

This recommendation does not take into consideration the amount of time needed to work with a client and get somewhere in helping the veteran carve out a life. It is merely based on having a number that appeases congressional pressure and paints the VA in a positive light.


This increased goal is a recipe for therapist burnout amid a national shortage of clinicians. These increased metrics can easily alienate an already skittish veteran because counselors have a bureaucratic stick pushing them to get to the next patient, which leads counselors to sometimes shut down sessions as the veteran is finally willing to open up.

It is essential to remember that Vet Centers were founded because Vietnam veterans were put off by the rigid structure of the behavioral healthcare provided by the VA when we came home. These metrics of 30 some contacts a week and manualized clinical practices fly in the face of what drew generations of veterans to Vet Centers in the first place.

The quality of mental health and support consistent with the intention of the Vet Centers is only available if counselors have the time to give it.

So please reach out and tell your members of Congress to demand that the Vet Center leadership returns the Vet Centers to being client-centered and not just another off-putting bureaucracy.

You can do that by asking them to support the Vet Center Improvement Act of 2021, S. 1944 and H.R. 3575.

Veterans Benefits Committee Report


The Veterans Benefits Committee has been meeting frequently and diligently on matters of importance facing our membership.

As you likely know by now, the PACT Act was signed into law by President Biden on August 10 while we were in Greenville, South Carolina, for the VVA Leadership & Education Conference. The VA has stated they will begin processing claims under this law on January 1. We have learned that the VA is hiring additional staff to handle the influx of anticipated claims.

The Committee is strongly in favor of continuing our long-standing partnership with the Bergmann & Moore law firm, which began in 2004. The passage of both the PACT Act and the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 makes our partnership even stronger.

The Committee has unanimously approved a resolution that will be considered by the VVA Board of Directors to endorse Bergmann & Moore as VVA’s partner in helping us navigate the VA litigation system with the PACT and Camp Lejeune acts. If we do so, the result will be providing much-needed legal counsel to our membership. VVA members need assurance that they will receive the maximum benefits allowed under the law, while being protected against predatory and unscrupulous actors. The committee has the utmost confidence in Bergmann & Moore.

Written by Gary Estermyer with input from the committee.




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