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

By the time you read this, Thanksgiving will be behind us and Christmas will be upon us soon.  This time of year is, by American custom, both a time to reflect upon things we can be thankful for and a time for passing on some of our good fortune to others (in a way that is different from what we do all year).

One of the things I’m grateful for is living in the most liberated country in the history of the world.  I mean “liberated” in the sense that we are free of governmental restraint to the greatest extent possible.  For one thing, it means that I am free to think of this time of year as one during which Christian people pay attention to the gift of Grace God gave us through the birth of Jesus and there is nothing the government can do to stop me or make me feel bad about it.  Of course, society is different.  Some people may be offended or may want to harass me for my beliefs.  But that leads to me having another reason to be grateful – America has been, for the longest time, one of the most tolerant places to be as well.  Here’s what I mean.   When I was a kid, I lived on the U of M campus, (between the main campus and the athletic grounds) and met folks from many countries and many cultures.  In the 50’s I would say “Merry Christmas!”  Many people would respond with phrases like “And Happy New Year to you!” or just by saying “Merry Christmas” back to me.  But now and then, I’d hear something different, like “Happy Hanukkah!”  All I knew back then was that they believed something different than I did.  They were not offended that I was a Christian and that I didn’t think to say “Happy Hanukkah!” to them.  Instead, we brightened each other’s day, showing respect for each other and sharing a common appreciation of the benefits of living in the United States.

Although I miss those days, I’m thankful for Gary Lillie badgering me until I became a member of VVA 310.  Since the Army, I’ve not been a joiner.  But my work at Concordia forced me to become familiar with veterans and veterans’ organizations.  I was already impressed by the fact that it didn’t matter what type of event I attended, it was well attended by VVA members and was probably being run by somebody who was also a member of VVA 310.  But, eventually, Gary convinced me that I would be welcomed, even though I was a messed up veteran with no combat history.  I found a group of people who still had old fashioned respect and a common appreciation of what it is to be an American.

Not everybody in VVA 310 thinks the same way, as we occasionally find out.  But almost always, we find a way to keep moving together for a common purpose, knowing that there is much more that binds us than that separates us.  This is a place where that old school respect for others is prominent.  I could be wrong, but I believe that it is that way because that’s how our members’ personal beliefs teach them to behave toward others.  It is not “custom” or social pressure, but values that motivate our members.  I love that.  Gary was right.  I am truly grateful that I’ve had a chance to meet you and to work with you toward honorable goals.

And VVA 310 is a great place to be for examples of the old style spirit of Christmas giving.  Not only do you see the annual gift budget getting bigger, you see a concentration of volunteer hours with the VA underwear party, packing parties, shopping for the Dawn Farms Christmas program and so forth.  Not that you don’t do this all year.  I’ve seen you helping a vet get their car back on the road, making sure VA patients are not forgotten during their hospital stays, building ramps, providing needed medical equipment and so much more.  For you, Christmas is every day.

I’m even grateful for our challenges.  We’ve been without a Secretary and a couple board members for a while.  The board positions were filled at our last meeting, but we still need a Secretary.  Challenges teach us that our self-imposed limitations usually underestimate our actual limitations by a significant amount.  If we think that there is no challenge put before us that doesn’t have a solution, we begin to see how our group members possess talents or training the rest of us wouldn’t have found out about otherwise.  Sometimes we surprise ourselves by doing what we previously thought we couldn’t do.  Challenges are not meant to turn us back into people who want to live in a cave.  They are designed to make us realize that God gave us much more than we may have realized.  So, if you are ready for a somewhat mild challenge, please let us know.  If you can be at most meetings and can hear and print or write or type, you are qualified and probably would do a respectable job.

I hope you all will be able to fully enjoy whatever your holiday traditions might be.  I hope you are healthy enough and wealthy enough to go where you need to go and to create great memories for yourself and your loved ones.  I wish you safe travels.

Thank you for being you and allowing me to be with you during this past year.

De Oppresso Liber