|Vietnam Veterans of America|
|Vice President’s Report, January/February 2023|
Preparing to Pass the Torch
To all of you out in VVA land, welcome to 2023.
Last year was filled with activities for officers, staff, members, and anyone who wanted to get involved. National Vietnam War Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day at Arlington National Cemetery and The Wall, and Vietnam War 50th anniversary commemoration activities — the list of events in which VVA was heavily involved is considerable.
In addition, all of the regional and chapter activities across the nation were truly incredible. I congratulate all who became involved with VVA last year in local communities. We are marching on; VVA is alive and well — for now.
We are an aging organization. But as we get older, I like to think we are getting more mature and a lot smarter. At the 2022 National Leadership & Education Conference many seminars addressed issues of aging veterans and how long we are going to last as an organization. Many times, as I have traveled the country, VVA members have asked me, “Where are we going? What is our longevity? How long will we be a factor?” I tell you now that we will be a factor until the last VVA member is gone.
Vietnam Veterans of America is a unique organization: our origin; the reasons we came together; our drive to get justice for veterans; legislative victories in Congress; our advocacy on many issues on all levels of the organization; and much more. There simply has never been anything like VVA before. It may well be that there will never be another organization like ours. But make no mistake, VVA has made a lasting impact on the veterans community.
As for how long we will be around, that’s a question that we have been asking and talking about for some time — including on the Convention floor.
We have kicked the can down the road for too long. I believe we must now confront the issue head on. We must decide where we are going. An aging membership, along with pandemic restrictions, diminished our ability to connect on a personal level, and that hurt the progress that was made with recruiting new members. But we have not lost faith. We are a tough group.
Delegates at two National Conventions were asked if we should open up our membership, and they came back with a resounding no. This organization was and will be an organization of Vietnam War veterans. With that understanding, my belief is that we can keep going somewhere between five and eight more years.
But we can still help younger veterans with VA benefits, homelessness issues, health concerns, legal issues, and much more.
All of the services VVA has built over the years are available to all veterans of peacetime and war. But to ask ourselves if we are going to just drop it all off — absolutely not; it is simply not in our DNA.
If you spend time with younger veterans, a majority of them will say thank you in spades. They know what VVA has done. We opened the doors to those who came after us. We followed our Founding Principle, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
May we live long and prosper. But now we must prepare to pass the torch to another generation.
VVA’s officers have been talking about this subject for some time. At our last officers’ meeting we discussed it at length, and we believe that we are zeroing in on a path to take. The newly approved MOU by the Board of Directors with Veterans Voice of America is a huge step in the right direction. We need to thank the Board for their wisdom and foresight in approving this agreement.
We are aware that this topic will come up in August at the National Convention in Orlando. We are preparing to answer questions. If you have thoughts or ideas, please bring them to our attention.
Jacy Smith, who formerly worked in the national Finance Department, returned to VVA on January 3. She will be the new administration manager at National headquarters and will report to me.
Three new Veteran Service Officers joined the Veterans Benefits Department in January and will work out of our Silver Spring Headquarters. We are working to bring a Managing Director to run the daily operations of the National office.
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