The Vietnam Veterans of America National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11 & 15
|LTC. (Retired) Charles Kettles receiving the Medal of Honor - July 2016|
|US Army photo by Sgt. Brand|
Colonel Kettles celebration at the Yankee Air Museum on August 13th was a well-attended one. There was standing room only. The staff had to place additional chairs in addition to the estimated 300 chairs originally placed. Some of the audience ended up sitting in the hallway in addition to that. Our own John Kinzinger was the emcee and Vance McCrumb gave some personal reflections on his trip to DC for the Medal of Honor ceremony. The Colonel received many honors including a bench in his honor being placed at the Historical Society of Ypsilanti. August 13th was proclaimed “Lieutenant Colonel Charles Kettles Day” in Ypsilanti by Councilman Dan Vogt. The Rotary Club awarded LTC Kettles an honorary life membership, and several Senators gave homage to him. All in all, it was a great evening that ended with his graciously taking pictures with anyone that asked.
Thanks to Al Merritt and anyone else who helped arrange the trip to the Tigers game on August 15. It was hosted by Fox Sports News Mario Impemba. He has a program for Veterans called Military Veterans Program (MPV) where he hosts Veteran groups at Detroit Tiger games. They had a bus pick us up at Arborland, provided us with customized t-shirts, fed us at Comerica Park, took group photos with Mario, provided tickets to the game for thirty people, gave each of us an autographed picture of Mario, and bused us back to Arborland. They also had two Mario attendants with us at all times (except during game time) to make sure we were where we needed to be and that our questions were answered. Other than the Tigers losing the game it was a great time by all who participated.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Chapter 310 members for allowing me (and my wife, who was attending on behalf of the AVVA) to attend the Vietnam Veterans Leadership Conference. As you probably already know, this year it was held in Tucson, Arizona. While it was nice to go there, it was not the best of temperatures during my stay. It stayed between 102 and 106 degrees with a few thunderstorms thrown in for good measure. It would be great if National planned these events in the Spring or Fall, but I digress. It also was an excellent opportunity to visit my youngest son and my granddaughter who live in Tucson. I am only able to get out there every few years to see them.
I asked to go to this Conference so that I might gain the leadership skills that would help me lead this Chapter in a professional, well organized way. While I didn’t receive a lot of leadership skills, I did learn about the structure of the VVA at the National, State, and Chapter levels. Also, of course, learning what forms are required each year and when to file them. I also learned a little more about Agent Orange, bylaws, children with disabilities, secondary PTSD, and Veteran suicides. So, the seminars gave me a better insight to some of the side effects of the war we all were a part of and how we can cope and live with them.
As usual for the first day at these events. there was a wreath laying ceremony. This took place at the flagpoles in front of the hotel. The wreath was presented by VVA President John Rowan and AVVA President Sharon Hobbs. It was so hot not many stayed afterward to view the pictures of the Vietnam era that were presented on poster boards at the flag poles.
During the opening ceremony, God Bless America was sung by USO star Marilyn O’Leary, followed by the posting of Colors by AZ Chapter 432 Color Guard. Then VVA President John Rowan spoke a few words. He said that there were now more Air Force vets attending the conference than Marines – this was not the case in the past. He also mentioned the awarding of the MOH to LTC Kettles. He asked for all the Coast Guard Vets to stand and there was only one who stood, although everyone stood when the Coast Guard flag passed during the Presentation of the Service Flags. He also asked all those who had received a Silver Star and above to stand and five or six vets stood. Also, he let us know that the government is trying to cut funding for the GI Bill (which, I believe, Sandie Wilson made us aware). He said that the VVA National had contingents at both the Democrat and the Republican Conventions to tell anyone who would listen to try to get our bills pushed through. The AVVA President spoke and said they are bringing awareness to secondary PTSD and in their brochures are calling it PTSD 2. They are working with doctors Tom Berger and Tom Hall – both Vietnam Veterans.
The keynote speaker was Lindsey Bier who went to college in Knoxville and received a PhD in international communication with a focus on Vietnam. Before going to college she applied for and was awarded a grant to go to Vietnam to study the culture there. When she went, she found the Vietnamese to be very friendly and wanting to know more about America. When she returned she didn’t know where to turn to look into Vietnam Veterans for a research study group. She had no relatives who served in that war nor did she know anyone who had. She went online and Googled Vietnam and found that there was a local VVA Chapter, 1078. She sent an email through their site and within an hour had a response from them. She ended up calling the gentleman who responded to her, having expectations that she was going to talk to someone like a soldier from Platoon or Lt. Dan from Forest Gump. The gentleman was eager to help her with her research. She said she learned four lessons from her experiences with the VVA: (1) The journey for Vietnam Veterans was difficult. She asked a Vet, “When did you come home?” and, he replied “I come home every night.” (2) Veterans trust veterans. Vets missed the war – the comradery with those you trust your life with. (3) Veterans care. They care for all veterans – not just Vietnam vets. (4) Vietnam Veterans forgive.
I attended several seminars. The first was on the new website that the National is rolling out for membership. State and Chapter VVAs will be able to go online to add, view, and edit membership but only for the information granted for that particular organization.
Then I attended the Chapter & State Council Bylaws Workshop where we learned how bylaws should be formatted and the interactions between bylaws of the National, State, and Chapter.
Then, in the next seminar I learned a little bit about being a President. Mostly that the responsibility of everything that goes on at the Chapter level falls on the President’s shoulders.
After this I attended the Federal Laws Covering Children with Disabilities. I learned that while it is a parent’s natural tendency to treat your disabled child as a buddy, it is counter intuitive. It is imperative that you start as early as possible in your child’s life to get treatment. Documentation is key and a journal should be kept making sure dates, times, and places you spoke with anyone are recorded in it. Find out what rules are in effect in your state government regarding coverage by Medicare. IDEA mandates that public schools must make available an education for disabled children in the least restrictive environment. IDEA also requires public school systems to develop appropriate IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) for each child.
Recognizing & Living with Secondary PTSD was the next seminar on my docket. Veterans, I learned, have more marital & family problems than any other group. They are also the majority of persons who smoke. Getting support to the veteran AND the veteran’s close support person is vital. Training can be provided through PTSD “2” (a peer support group for family and friends).
Homeless Seminar was more about organizing and performing a stand down. It was said that approximately 58,000 Veterans are homeless each night. If a group is thinking of putting on a stand down, they should realize that it can cost $1- $5,000 for one day and around $10,000 to implement for a two to three-day event. They have found that during these events they don’t run into a lot of trouble as Veterans typically police themselves. When planning a stand down you should try to include Walmart as one of the donors of products as they support veterans. Gift bags should include underwear, socks, t-shirts, toiletries, etc.
The last seminar I attended was Veteran Suicide Risk & Prevention. Some statistics given were that now days only 1% of the population serve in the military and that women are twelve times more likely to commit suicide, and at a younger age than men. Also, there are two times more suicides than homicides in the U.S. Attempts at suicide outnumber committed suicides by twenty-five to one. In 2014 65% of suicides by veterans were fifty years of age and older. Unfortunately, only six out of twenty veterans go to the VA Hospital for medical treatment.
So, in summary, I was very busy and learned a lot. Thank you again, members of VVA 310, for sending me to this Conference. It was money well spent.
SSgt Dave Draper