24 February 2013
Vietnam Veterans of America - doing their job?
There has been some Internet chatter this weekend about the usefulness of the Vietnam Veterans of America - some folks feel VVA isn't doing enough for Guam, Blue Water Navy or other non-core VVA populations.
That's not my experience. Rather, VVA was the first to address our needs with their national resolution calling on DOD and VA to treat us right. VVA introduced us to effective allies in the Agent Orange community, without which much time would have been wasted. I have no complaints and each request for liaison or other support has been honored by their leadership.
My only concern is a local one here in Portland, Oregon. VVA lacks a service officer in the Portland VARO and instead utilizes dedicated volunteers elsewhere in the state. With my own claim, I felt I needed a local contact and went with another service organization (State of Oregon) only for that reason...I wish local VVA VSOs had been available as obviously the Vietnam Veterans of America has the expertise in Agent Orange issues.
Heck...some of the veterans' organizations in which I have life memberships, such as the Disabled American Veterans and the Paralyzed Veterans of America, never even answered multiple letters and phone calls asking for their leadership and assistance in our C-123 veterans' struggle. I get the feeling too much focus is on fundraising. Specific requests to PVA regarding help needed in Washington DC re: handicapped issues have been ignored. PVA even lost my appeals documents for my claim before the Air Force Board of Correction of Military Records when their staffer left the organization. This happened twice, then they told me they no longer represented members at the AFBCMA! Two years wasted. Yet, years ago, it was the PVA medical director, the late Dr. Bodenbender, who documented my Gulf War injuries for my initial VA claims.
From my experience, we have had all the assistance we could have hoped for from the Vietnam Veterans of America and the American Legion. We hope for a national resolution this summer from the Veterans of Foreign Wars. To all veterans organizations dedicated to helping veterans stand up to the VA, our thanks. God bless!
Let's stop squabbling, okay?
Wes Carter, Chair, C-123 Veterans Association
Member, Vietnam Veterans of America, American Legion, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars