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Directors’ Reports, May/June 2023 -   -  

By the time you read this, the April BOD meeting will have been held, along with a special meeting to discuss the steps needed to end VVA as we know it. The critical decisions made by the officers and Board will be presented to the delegates at the August National Convention.

Bruce Dobson of Massachusetts Chapter 908 was a guest on radio station WATD-FM in Marshfield, Mass., along with Justin Latini and other VVA members. They did an hour about Agent Orange and the effects on our kids and grandkids. It was very interesting, and a few Gold Star Wives were in attendance.

Patty Dumin announced a special meeting of the Connecticut State Council on 7 May. I will report on the meeting in the next issue. I will also have an update on the 19th annual Vietnam Veterans Memorial ride that Jim Benton of Chapter 907 is holding on May 28 in Gardner, Massachusetts.

The Vermont State Council re-sent their Election and Financial reports to National, and now all Region 1 state councils are in compliance and ready for the Convention.

New Hampshire Chapter 992 is in the running for the Chapter Newsletter of the Year Award to be presented at the Convention and I enthusiastically gave them my endorsement. They do a great job with each issue.

The Massachusetts State Council voted to revamp their website and work on the new site is to begin soon. Looking forward to a great product when complete.

Remember to send any news to me at Skip1juli1@comcast.net.

I hope you plan on attending the 2023 National Convention in August in Orlando. This is going to be a great event in a good location, and I am sure there will be lots of discussions.

If you have been to a Convention, you know how important it is, and if you have never attended one, you need to get it off your bucket list. The mail-in pre-registration deadline date is July 7. If you miss it, you can register onsite at a higher cost - $150 versus $75.

The last Region 2 report listed 10 suspended chapters in the region. on New York Chapter 480 remains on suspension for not filing a 2022 Finance Report and Pennsylvania Chapters 210, 349, and 468 for not filing 2022 election reports. Please note that the 2023 reports are due now, with the deadline of July 15th.

The Moving Wall will be in Union, N.J., from May 18t-22. The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall will be in Roscoe, Pa., from June 15-19.

Hope to see you all at the Convention. Stay healthy and safe.

Region 3 is in great shape and the credit goes to the knowledgeable state council and chapter presidents who serve the Southeast. They are my backbone and I applaud them for their great work.

I am still trying to process the welcome that I received on a recent return trip to Vietnam. I was treated more like a diplomat than a visitor. Many times, I was approached by Vietnamese people, who simply said, “Thank you.”

My tour guide explained that the people of Vietnam thank all American veterans for supporting their country in times of need. Children approached me, and speaking in fluent English, said, “Thank you, American.” Many of them reached out to touch my hand and offer me a smile.

The once war-torn country is now beautiful, with very few signs of what the American military left behind after the war. On my final two days in Hanoi, I met and spent quality time with a former North Vietnamese solder who said that fifty years ago, “I wanted to annihilate you, and you wanted the same toward me.”

We shared a thousand-yard stare, then a handshake, and next a loving embrace as forever brothers. He shared with me the philosophy of Vietnamese culture of people practicing living in the present and not dwelling on the past. In considering this, I couldn’t help by ask myself why so many of our VVA brothers and sisters still live in the past?

I returned home with a new sense of inner peace. I now strive to move forward and be happier.

Back in Region 3, we are getting ready for the 2023 Convention where there will be many decisions to make. As an organization, VVA will make honorable moves about our future that I know will be well received by the other veterans service organizations.

Region 8 continues to help our fellow veterans and their families in every possible way. We continue to move forward as we increase our membership and the number of chapters in our states.

On February 27-28, Chuck Renevier, the president of the Montana State Council, joined VVA President Jack McManus in a meeting with several politicians, including U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) to discuss issues such as Agent Orange, medical marijuana use for veterans, and the need for health services in rural areas of Montana and the rest of the country.

On March 25, we held the Washington State Council meeting in Toppenish, Washington. We had a great meeting, made even more meaningful with the attendance of our President Jack McManus.

After the morning meeting, we were invited to attend the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event in Yakima, hosted by the Yakama Warriors Association. I had the honor of introducing Jack McManus and we were all inspired and encouraged by his remarks.

Region 8 member Jim Daly, a retired Marine Corps captain, wrote an impressive article on his Vietnam War experiences that was published in the Aberdeen, Washington, Daily World.

On March 28-29, I was invited by Alaska State Council President Craig Wade to speak at the National Vietnam War Veterans Day ceremonies in Wasilla, Alaska. It was a great event reminding those in attendance of the many sacrifices made by many young men and women 50 years ago. I want to thank President Wade for the invitation and for his leadership and for the excellent work he is doing on behalf of VVA.

The Oregon State Council is working to help pass a bill in the State Legislature that would grant a higher property tax exemption to veterans with disabilities. It is legislation worthy of all veterans, especially Vietnam War veterans who have high numbers of disabilities.

Oregon and Washington had their “Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day” on March 30th hosted by their respective State Department of Veterans Affairs in Salem and Olympia respectively. In April, I traveled to Visalia, California, to meet with Dick Southern to discuss and plan our Region 8/9 meeting in Reno; attended the Oregon State Council meeting; and finally traveled to Silver Spring to attend the National Board of Directors meeting; and attended the Montana State Council meeting.

I will keep mentioning the following: Region 8 is doing well because of the leadership we have in place. We have individuals that are committed to making a difference and who sincerely care about taking care of our fellow veterans. I am proud to be part of Region 8 and I am proud of every veteran that makes up Region 8. We will not falter nor fail in keeping our commitments. Peace.

Region 9 continues to see increases in membership every month, and I believe this trend will continue. I am looking to get more Region 9 states, along with their chapters, to attend all of the VVA events and functions that they can.

One event in June is the Region 8/9 Pre-Convention Conference that will be held at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada, June 27-29. It will be an educational event that will include information about the amendments and resolutions that will be presented to the delegates at the Convention in August.

This conference also will be an opportunity for those running for office to become acquainted with the members in Region 8 and 9. VVA and AVVA members will be attending the conference.

Since chapter elections have been completed, don’t forget to send in Elections and Finance reports to VVA National and your state council.

One of my goals for the future is to have each state in Region 9 increase its number of chapters. Stronger state councils insure that VVA will continue to help veterans and their families to get the benefits they deserve. A higher number of members also helps to persuade Congress to pass legislation that benefits veterans and their families.

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

I pray that you all stay safe and well and check on your buddies. Get back in the habit of attending meetings and recruiting new members.

I am available by e-mail. Feel free to contact me at dsouthern@vva.org with any questions or concerns.




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