The Vietnam Veterans of America National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11 & 15
|LTC. (Retired) Charles Kettles receved the Medal of Honor - July 2016|
On December 20 John Kinzinger, members of VVA 310, AVVA and Friends, the Rolling Thunder, and the Michigan Military Moms met at the VA Hospital to make room visits. As you may be aware, because of some new regulations at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital, we had to break up our visits with the patients into two different days to help keep the hallways less crowed.
The Michigan Military Moms gave patient gift baskets. The Plymouth VFW Auxiliary gave Christmas stockings.
The Rolling Thunder gave hand knitted lap blankets that were red, white, and blue. We broke into two teams with myself escorting Miss Michigan, Ariana Kwan. John K. took Miss Washtenaw, Alaina Cook and former Miss Michigan Stacey Mason. As I understand it, this is the eighteenth year that Stacey has joined us for this event. Many of the patients enjoyed seeing the three beauty queens and loved getting autographed pictures of them. Alaina and Stacey provided violin music for both the patients and the staff. The Chelsea Fiddlers provided opening ceremonies in the CLC and then played music on the floors for the patients. It was gratifying to see the pleasure on the faces of the patients as some told war stories. Most thanked us very much for thinking of them. If you have never joined us before, try participating this year - it’s very heartwarming!
On January 8th we held our annual Underwear Party at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital. This makes somewhere around fifteen years that our Chapter, under John K.’s leadership, has participated in this event. We had volunteers from VVA 310, AVVA310, the Veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County, and Beverly from the VA Volunteer Services - around fifteen in all. We passed out T-shirts and underwear to the patients. This year we had only one female patient. We gave her pajamas. I would like to give special thanks to Jack Meyers’s daughter, Anna, for taking pictures at the event. Hopefully we will have them posted to the website by the time you read this. We had a great time talking with the hospitalized Vets. Some were about to be discharged and some had been there for several months. Most were in good spirits and some outright funny. They were all grateful for us taking the time to even think about them, much less giving out the gifts. Most of them seemed to be Army. There seemed to be a very few of the other branches of service. This is truly a great thing that we do every year- Vets serving Vets!
As you may remember, we are now selling merchandise at the VA Hospital every month on the second Tuesday of the month. This month we did not do quite as well as last month. Weather may have been to blame this time though. We received a few inches of snow the night before and the morning of the event. Thanks to all who came out and to Meni Draper for running the event during the months that Al Dieter is away. Meni said she had a lot of help which was greatly appreciated.
My wife and I had a great time at the WACU Fundraiser January 11th at Frenchie’s (Sidetrack) in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town. Many members of our Chapter were there along with members of the AVVA and Friends, Veterans Honor Guard, and WACU. Also, singers Stacey Mason and Kelly Trudell. It started off with dining to the vocal and violin music performed by former Miss Michigan, Stacey Mason. Then John Kinzinger stood to accept donations from various organizations and individuals. WACU did very well. After that John started the auction by presenting Louie, the auctioneer. There were around twenty items up for auction. As you might guess, the items were diverse. They ranged from professional photos taken of Colorado mountains and Vietnam pictures by Gary Lillie, to Red Wing hockey tickets, four ‘Club Seat’ Tigers game tickets, jewelry, blankets, a very nice bronze statue of “The Three Servicemen”, 2015 Blue Bloods script signed by all the cast, aroma therapy gift box, and a framed set of Washtenaw County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commemorative Programs signed by distinguished officers. John Kinzinger did a great job of assembling it for the fundraiser. I won the bid on the last item and I will be donating it to the Ypsilanti Township display area. The night finished out by singing from Kelly Trudell. Two other exciting things happened that night. John announced that he and Jane are becoming grandparents.
WACU’s Terry Hall (left) got down on bended knee and proposed to Stephanie Fairbotham. They both first met two or three years ago at Frenchie’s during a WACU fundraiser. Congratulations to both families. Exciting news.
We had a very productive Chapter meeting on the January 12. We agreed to support these projects:
- A donation to Fisher House, which is to be built at the Ann Arbor VA Hospital grounds (similar to Ronald McDonald house, only for Veteran families);
- A donation toward the cost to purchase a VA Hospital Transport Vehicle (the enhanced golf carts used to transport patients and their supporters). VFW Post 423, American Legion Post 46 and our Chapter will be sharing the cost of a replacement vehicle. The Marine Corp League purchased one as well. The VA’s current carts are very old and are constantly breaking down. Our Chapter’s logo and the Posts’ logos will be attached to the vehicles to show everyone our combined Veteran support;
- We unofficially agreed to make a line item in the upcoming new budget to support Wreaths Across America with the purchase of 20 wreaths each year. We will designate them to be placed on gravesites at the Great Lakes National Cemetery;
- We approved getting our flag set replaced for our Chapter. We use them at both our Chapter facility and also the special occasions and events we participate in.
- We also set in motion the process for procuring a memorial brick for “Doc” Martinez at Kokomo.
- We are also getting ready to get bricks from our Vietnam Veterans Memorial to have names inscribed for the four members we have lost.
- Lastly, we also received a new member, Army Veteran Rudolph Johnson. If you get a chance, shake his hand and welcome him home.
On January 13, the Defense Department announced that veterans will soon be able to shop online at military exchanges. The policy change will extend limited online military exchange shopping privileges to all honorably discharged veterans of the military, DoD officials said. It will be for online shopping only and will not include purchases of military uniforms, alcohol, or tobacco. It is slated to take effect in November.
A quote from an e-mail recently sent to me regarding Camp Lejeune:
“Most recently after a long delay, the soon to be Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald signed the Ledger authorizing certain conditions to be granted [presumptive status] for those who were stationed at Camp Lejeune from August 1, 1953 through December 31, 1987, and are diagnosed or were diagnosed with any of the following conditions: Adult Leukemia, Aplastic anemia and other Myelodysplastic syndromes, Bladder Cancer, Kidney Cancer, Liver Cancer, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hogkins Lymphoma, and Parkinson's Disease. Those who were stationed there during the timeframe, or TDY from another military organization, or families can apply for benefits, but they have [to have been] there for 30 days or more.”
In late January (after the submission of this article) we will be attending our first planning meeting for our annual Garry Lillie Recognition Dinner, which takes place on April 8 this year. I look forward to working with all the volunteers to bring all the ideas together into one cohesive plan to present what is believed to be our 30th Dinner. As with last year, it will be held at the UAW Hall in Ypsilanti.
Next time you see George “Chief” Perrault, give him a big “Thank You” for applying for, and receiving a grant from Walmart to subsidize our Memorial Grounds account. This will help carry on the job of keeping our Memorial as pristine as it is now.
Another person to congratulate is Gary Bourdeau. He recently won the Veteran of Month Award from the Milan Chamber of Commerce. We sure have a class act going on in our Chapter, don’t we? A great bunch of Vets and supporters.
February 14 is the VVA 310 Merchandising event at the VA Hospital.
February 19 is the seventy-fifth birthday of the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve.
On February 20, we celebrate Presidents’ Day (Lincoln’s Birthday, Feb 12 and Washington’s Birthday, Feb 22).
Officer nominations start in February and go through April. Who would you like to see representing you for 2017- 2018? Be thinking of who you would like to nominate for Officers and Board members.
See you at the next meeting,
Sgt. Dave Draper