• 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
LTC Charles S. Kettles (ret) Passed Away On January 21, 2019.  Rest In Peace My Friend, Rest In Peace.......
President’s Message
Jon Luker
The Choices Are Yours
luker During our March meeting, me began diving into the complexities of the final years of VVA National. There are two important questions our members must answer before the July Convention.  There are two more that must be answered at some point after the convention.
The first question is whether VVA National should implement a plan for winding down the affairs of the national organization before the last man dies.

The second question is whether VVA National should implement a plan for passing on our mission and our means for achieving it to another organization.

Both questions are “yes or no” questions.  The questions are not alternatives to each other.  That is, you can say yes to both, or no to both.  We are not asking you to choose one plan over the other.  On the other hand, you may approve one and not the other, as well as disapprove both or approve both.

Regarding question one, much is known.  Congress will not approve amending our charter to allow people to join who did not serve during the Vietnam Era.  Therefore, at some point, the nationally chartered organization called VVA will cease to exist.  The legalities of the situation tell us that either we plan for that day and windup the affairs of the organization ourselves, or we let the State of New York take our property and distribute it as they see fit.  Because it is unfair to the veterans we serve and their loved ones to leave people stranded while they have a claim or appeal pending, VVA thinks it is obligated to develop and implement a windup plan and not leave it to the State of New York to close the organization.  There is a workgroup that is studying what needs to be done and figuring out when it needs to be done, so that the work is done before the last people standing are no longer able to do the required work.

Our current understanding is that Workgroup One believes that once we have an estimated date by which the windup must be complete, the winding down would need to start about eight years before that date.  We will be asked in July to agree to the wind down plan.  We will be told that if membership votes “no,” the State of New York will take over VVA at some point and give everything away as they see fit.

The second workgroup is proceeding with the idea that even on the day the last Vietnam Era veteran dies, our work will not be finished, because we said, “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”  Perhaps we should have said, “Never will the generation of Vietnam Era veterans abandon another,” but we didn’t.  We made a commitment to train future generations to carry on the mission and duty to care for future veterans.  So, the task before Workgroup Two is to figure out how to pass the mission, the knowledge and the resources to the next generations.  At this time, only one scenario has been described by Workgroup Two and it has people nervous.  However, Workgroup Two is being secretive about its deliberations and possible plans, so we are not sure what we will see in July.  We can be confident that the goal of the plan will be to make sure the mission lives after the last Vietnam Era Veteran dies, but we can’t be sure of much else.

The outline we were given at the Leadership Seminar last year called for two phases:  First, in concert with the timing set by Workgroup One, VVA would start an interim 501(c)(3) whose mission would be to start another organization that would take up the mission.  VVA assets would be transferred to the interim 501(c)(3).  That would include the income producing methods VVA uses, as well as all the real estate and physical stuff owned by VVA.  It would also include intellectual property, such as the name “Vietnam Veterans of America,” the logo, the motto and so forth.  Once the transfer is complete, the process would begin of gathering the generations to learn from them how to build (or merge with) and organization that could effectively carry on the mission nationwide.  

The reason they are being somewhat abstract about what the new organization would look like is because of the history of the birth of VVA.  When VVA was formed, Neither VFW nor American Legion wanted anything to do with Vietnam Veterans.  That worked out okay, because Vietnam Veterans were not looking for a place to go drink and get away from their spouses and kids.  But Vietnam vets were not at all clear about what they wanted instead.  As a result, many organizations developed across the country.  Some got large enough to involve several states, but none dominated the national scene.  Each had its own focus, be it agent orange, POW’s, bad conduct discharges, antiwar advocacy or whatever.  The folks that ended up leading the new organization only started to make progress once they got representatives of many of these organizations together in one place and began to talk about what all they had in common and what they all believed needed to be done.  After a while, an organization plan developed, local groups became part of the bigger group and a Congressional charter was secured.

Sandbox veterans do not want an organization that is just like VVA.  They deal with nonsimultaneous communication, video calls, texts and such far more than any type of face to face communication.  When they act in concert, it is often via some online app.  It is reasonable to expect them to have their own way to do things and their own idea about how to govern what they do.  The only thing we need to insist on is that they accept our battle flag and promise to carry it into the future, along with whatever else they do.  We can’t know what the new organization will look like or act like until those meetings happen.  But just as VVA picked up where the VFW and American Legion left off, there is good reason to hope that the Sandbox vets will do the same.  Sandbox vets acknowledge (except in the press) that they could not do what they have been doing but for the advocacy VVA did on their behalf as they were coming home and dealing with Gulf War Syndrome, Burn Pits, TBIs, PTSD, bad conduct discharges, irradiated ammo, etc.

Workgroup Two says that it will take longer to stand up the new organization than it will take to windup the VVA.  That is not a problem, if the interim 501(c)(3) is up and running before VVA shuts down.  Once the new organization is up and running, the VVA’s assets can be transferred and the interim 501(c)(3) can be shut down.

The fly in this ointment is that VVA has set up a couple nonprofits before and had both nonprofits run away with VVA assets, leaving VVA and its mission in the dust.  Workgroup Two is aware of this issue.  As I said earlier, they have not been generous with details about how the interim 501(c)(3) will be set up or governed.  We will be paying attention as we hear more from Workgroup Two in the future.

Bottom line, then, is that when we ask for a vote of the membership in May or June, all we can ask is if you like the idea of trying to pass on the mission and our resources to an organization that will be built by Sandbox veterans with the help of an interim VVA built and funded 501(c)(3).  A no vote would signal your wish that the State of New York make those decisions for you.

Please note that our own Chapter and our own State Council need to develop a long-term strategy.  Unlike the nationally chartered VVA, we can amend our governing documents to include Sandbox veterans and their families.  Even if VVA decides to fold without making any attempt to pass the mission to the next generation, our Chapter and the State Council can decide to continue the mission anyhow.  These are questions we should be thinking about now, but we can wait until we hear the outcome of the votes in July before we start developing our own strategic plans.  Four or five of the other Great Lakes States may join with us in the effort to continue the mission.

We will try to set aside discussion time during future meetings.  However, feel free to share your questions and comments now, if you have any.  With your permission, we can post questions and answers on the website or circulate them via email (or both), as well as use them to begin discussion at the meetings.  If you already have an answer to either or both mail questions, please feel free to share that as well.

Please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  Remember to let me know if it is okay to share your questions or comments.


De Oppresso Liber

Jon Luke


(By the way, that is the motto of the US Army Special Forces.  For those who may not know, Special Forces Soldiers are the ones who wear the Green Beret.  What that motto means to us is, “to free the oppressed.”)