|Vietnam Veterans of America|
Western New York Chapter 77 had a busy fourth quarter last year. “We had our second chicken barbecue fundraiser early in October, and as usual, it was a success, except for the cold weather,” said Chapter President Tom Thompson. He went on to say that the chapter managed to function during the six-foot snowfall that hit Buffalo in November. “The chapter never closed our museum,” he said, “and our all-inclusive veterans food pantry is situated on the northern edge of the snow belt,” and received “only” a foot of snow. “The food pantry has been busy as usual, and we have been receiving many donations. Other veterans organizations, churches, schools, supermarkets, and the city of Tonawanda Police Department have all given generously with food and cash to help resupply our pantry.” The chapter’s AVVA members, he said, “do a great job restocking and distributing the pantry items as supplies are brought in. They also raise funds to supply needy veterans’ children and home-bound veterans.”
St. Charles, Illinois, Chapter 693 recently made a $1,000 donation to Honor Flight Chicago, a local nonprofit that takes war veterans on all-expenses-paid, one-day excursions to Washington, D.C., to take in the national war and veterans memorials. Chapter President Stan Herzog and Vice President Joe Morgan, Sr., presented the check to the organization’s Dee Simmons, a Vietnam War veteran.
Tom Buono, the president of Utica, New York, Chapter 944, is one of the founding members of the Mohawk Valley Hometown Heroes banner program, which formed in Utica in January 2022. The committee, which also includes the regent of the Oneida DAR chapter and a member of the local Military Order of the Purple Heart chapter, recently announced it was expanding the program, which creates and displays banners honoring local veterans. They expect to set out nearly 200 banners in four municipalities in 2023. “It’s a great program that gives families and friends the opportunity to honor their loved ones,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente Jr., who purchased a banner honoring his father’s service in World War II. “There are so many veterans that have served this community.”
Marion County, Ohio, Chapter 1117 is also involved in a local banner program. Chapter Secretary Randy Drazba announced that the chapter took orders on a first-come, first-served bases for its 2023 Military Banner Program through the end of February. Marion County “veterans currently serving, retired from the service, or separated from the service with an honorable discharge can be honored through the banner project,” Drazba said. In 2022, the program’s second year, more than 300 of the two-foot-by-three-foot banners adorned with a veteran’s photograph were sold and displayed on utility poles in Marion from Memorial Day through Veterans Day.
The Rev. Bob Bull, a member of Charles S. Kittles Chapter 310 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, has started what he’s calling DAVe, in “Delivering a Veteran.” The program will provide rides to veterans who need them to medical appointments, treatments, and procedures that require someone else to do the driving. “Rev. Bull is putting together a list of volunteers who may be able to provide the ride,” said Chapter President Stan Harrison. For more info, go to the chapter’s website, https://www.vva310.org
Portland, Oregon, Chapter 392 has one of VVA’s largest chapter headquarters, almost the entire second floor of a large building in Southeast Portland that formerly was used by a pipe supply company. The space includes eleven offices, six cubicles, a lunch room, three bathrooms (including one with a shower) and two large meeting areas. Former Chapter President Gary McAdams thought up the idea as a one-stop Veterans Outreach Center. Today it houses several nonprofit veterans-support organizations. That includes Fort Kennedy, a day center for homeless veterans; Baby Closet, which provides clothing for deserving active-duty service members’ infants; Love One; which offers laundering services to homeless veterans; F.I.D.O, a homeless veterans’ pet food bank; and an office for a certified Veteran Service Officer.
Arturo Edwards, a member of Nassau County, New York, Chapter 82, received the MLK Jr. Distinguished Service Award in January from the Oyster Bay, N.Y., Town Board. The award “is presented to noteworthy recipients in recognition of their outstanding leadership and achievement, adherence to the principals of a just society, and continued involvement in support of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s dream,” Supervisor Joseph Saladino said at the award presentation. A former New York City police officer, Edwards served for 18 months in Vietnam during the war. “Arturo’s service to our nation and our community didn’t end with his tour of duty,” Councilwoman Vicki Walsh added. “He has been very involved in our community, is dedicated to the service of his fellow Americans and truly represents the gold standard of community service.”
The officers of Raymond M. Clausen Chapter 1052 in Independence, Louisiana, unvieled a new memorial at Ponchaltoula Cemetery on January 14. The memorial honors five Vietnam War Medal of Honor recipients from the state — USAF Capt. Steven Bennet; U.S. Army 1st Lt. Douglas Fournet; U.S. Marine Corps PFC Clausen; Army PFC Milton Lee, and Army CWO Michael Novosel — as well as the 24 Louisianans still listed as missing in action in the Vietnam War. Louisiana State Council President Terry Courville and Vice President J.D. Soileau attended the dedication ceremonies at the memorial, which is located along the cemetery’s Avenue of Flags.
Members of Sumner County, Tennessee, Chapter 240 continue to maintain the Sumner County Veterans Park, which the chapter designed and dedicated on November 7, 1998, near the County Administration Building in Gallatin, Tennessee, not far from Nashville. It includes the Wall of Honor, which recognizes men and women from Sumner County who served (and are serving) in uniform, as well as the Sumner County Veterans Memorial, which honors local service members who perished in America’s wars from World War I through the first Persian Gulf War. The park itself is designed to be a community gathering place, including for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, and other patriotic events.
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