My time at the stick is over, and crew rest and financial relief desperately sought! I haven't checked but maybe there is even a FAR about too much time on veterans issues by one individual??
Who feels led to offer time and talent for the next year, with our important new objective of working with VA to implement recommendations of the IOM? The worst of the struggle is over – now we find our aircrews and maintenance personnel from all three bases and start getting the word out.
VA will help just in their administrative changes. Web pages, training letters, press releases all will orient claims official, health provider and veteran. The major veterans organizations will all be carrying the news in their magazines and web sites and we on ours. I've asked VA about reaching out through DFAS, ARPC, TREA, ROA, AFA and other authorities and associations. VA's working group, in place since IOM briefed VA on January 8, seems to be their focal point for the many decisions and we need leadership to liaise with them.
I believe we need to stay an informal, funds-free organization welcoming all with a simple request to join us. We do now need to start identifying all who'd like to be members and start a more formal collection of names, their association with the C-123 and how they can document that, illnesses, claims, denials, survivors and whatever else comes to mind in our group's new leadership.
John, Charlie, Andy, Big John, Butler, Arch, Jim, Clancey, Al and Gail, MGB...everyone. Please work this out among yourselves and find us leadership for 2015 and beyond!
Finances. We have nothing in the piggy bank, obviously. I propose we raise voluntary funds of at least $2000 per year for travel expenses, and that really covers only two trips to DC. There will be much work with legislators, VA, military associations and others which will need to keep us busy. Example: my last trip for IOM Jan 6-13 was $1250 and we shouldn't ask our leadership to get soaked for such expenses personally,
The web sites run about $250 a year, and postage maybe $200 now that we don't need to blitz every senator with a $35 350 page 3-ring binder, or solicit interest from reports with one.
Chores, either done by the chairman or delegated to another volunteer:
1. web site and blog entries
2. correspondence with vets, legislators, military associations
3. close contact with VA to insure our needs are met with their program changes
4. PR...keep seeking interest from the press, promoted good coverage about us
5. a couple trips to DC each year; at least one guest appearance at the next annual meeting of the Vietnam Veterans of America and at the American Legion, our two key sponsoring veterans groups
6. I propose a poster display at the 2015 Society of Toxicology and the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, telling the story of how we were screwed and how things worked out
7. work with the USAF Museum to amend Patches' history to cover our service
8. maintain contact with the Senate minority and majority leaders of the Veterans Affairs Committee
9. consider a more formal, permanent organization structure
10. STRATEGY, STRATEGY, STRATEGY for ongoing "guerrilla" advocacy of our veterans' issues, aka running an effective national campaign on less than pocket change!
Please find us a new chairman! If you want to pass the buck, nominate someone else and we'll crown him/her by popular acclaim!