• Chuck and his wife Ann

  • President and Charlie heading to the East Room

  • Chuck and his son Mike

  • Chuck and his daughter Jeanna

  • Medal of Honor

  • East Room For The Medal of Honor Ceromony

Vietnam Veterans of America,
Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310
National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11, & 15
E-Newsletter of the Year 2017
Chapter member LTC. (Retired) Chuck Kettles receved the Medal of Honor - July 2016
Click Here To View The 2018 MLB All Star Game Opening Ceremony Honoring MOH Recipients.  Col Kettles Is One Of Two In Uniform.  The Video Lead In Is A Short MOH History Followed By Announcing Each Receipient. 
President’s Message
Jon Luker

Veterans Day is coming soon.  For us who have sworn that never again will one generation of veterans abandon another, every day is veterans day.  Whether we are volunteering at the VA, working on one of the VVA committees, doing our work with any of the other Veterans Service Organizations, briefing high school and elementary school students on the Vietnam War, we all are performing these services in honor of and in support of veterans of US military service.  And, of course, we are doing it for the fallen servicemembers who can’t do it for themselves.  
Sometimes, it feels like we are just paying back a favor.  After all, none of us would be where we are today if our fellow brothers and sisters in arms had not been of service to us many times in the past, both while in uniform and since then.

But, there is something different.  Fifty years ago, the Greatest Generation was happy to have been welcomed home with ticker tape parades and new industrial age jobs.  During World War II, nine percent of the US population served in uniform.  So, the odds were very good that everybody had at least one family member in uniform.  It makes sense then that the civilians would have a better understanding of what military service meant and had a personal understanding of what civilians left behind when they put on the uniform and went to war.

Thirty years later, however, even the WWII veterans had a chance to put the War behind them and start thinking about and living life as civilians when it came time to send troops to Vietnam for reasons that were not well explained to the public at the time.  In 1969, less than one percent of the US population was in uniform.  As is well known, Vietnam Veterans did not come home to ticker tape and great jobs.  They landed home in the middle of many cultural revolutions that left Americans questioning everything from fashion restrictions to America’s leadership.  Patriotism took a back seat to everything from “doing your own thing” to loyalty to a gender or ethnicity or religion or national origin and so forth.

By 2004, we were in a condition such that even though we were involved in two wars, the only thing that happened on Veterans Day was that Veterans were totally ignored by government officials who held a second Memorial Day service, instead.  Vietnam veterans also sponsored various ceremonies, but those also tended to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Most of these services happened at graveyards or at memorials.

But a slow change was in progress also.  Vietnam Veterans were doing a great deal of work to make sure that Sandbox veterans got much better treatment upon their return home than the Vietnam veterans received upon theirs.  Starting 2004 or so, you might find a welcome committee at the airport or at home stations.  In our area, in 2008, Concordia University held an event that not only recognized that Veterans day was about the living, not the dead, but recognized the need to help veterans get connected to the resources they need.  Concordia also led the way with getting nonprofits that serve veterans a chance to get familiar with the services the other organizations offered veterans and with helping the public understand that the family rendered service to our nation as well.

These days, you can find Veterans Day programs for veterans happening at several college campuses, a few high schools, and a few charter schools and even at a few commercial establishments.  There will be concerts, plays and art displays honoring living veterans.  I would list some of them for you, but by the time you read this, they will be history.

When I began to realize that part of what makes me different from my high school classmates and friends from back in the day is the fact that I have years of military service experience, I first saw the extra work and the extra physical and mental damage that comes with service.  But then I started to recognize veterans in a crowd, not by their clothes, but by their behavior.  Yes, the thousand-yard stare gives some of them away, but courtesy, decisiveness, bravery and other things also show through.  It started to make me realize that my military time was not just a service to my country, but an irreplaceable contribution to me as well.  I am a better person than I would have been due to what I learned and experienced while a member of the military service family.

I am very pleased to know the veterans that I know.  They are people you can count on when the chips are down.  They are people who treat me with dignity and respect even when they disagree with me on issues that are important to both of us.  They are people who mean what they say and do what they say much more often than people I know who have no military service.

It makes me wonder if America would be an even better place if we still had the draft.  Military service changes people.  Seems to me, it changes most people for the better.  Not that I’m advocating that we bring back the draft.  Congress has much bigger fish to fry at this time.  I’m just saying I really appreciate each and every veteran I’ve ever met and I know lots of other veterans who feel the same way.  Bottom line, it is nice to see that civilians are also recognizing the good in veterans.  I hope that Vietnam Veterans of America will be able to work with this reemerging appreciation of veterans to continue the work of improving VA healthcare and benefit operations, getting combat diseases recognized, diagnosed and treated, getting the Blue Water Navy bill passed and following through with the promise to study Agent Orange birth defects and Gulf War Syndrome and Burn Pit issues.

A pat on the back and a 50 year pin is a wonderful improvement over 1971, but action speaks louder than praise.  I look forward to America acting appreciative of those who serve in the military both during their time of service and afterward.

De Oppresso Liber