Saturday, April 11, 2009

Time for an Unconventional Fight

Although they will never admit it, last spring's campaign to send our Vietnam Service Medals back to the White House, the Senate and the House was a success. It was what prompted Filner to introduce the Agent Orange Equity Act of 2009. We all know that it subsequently got loaded down by other Veterans groups and failed to move out of committee last session. The bill died under its own weight.

Now we are three months late in the new bill that was promised.

We now ask ourselves, who has been missing from this fight? Not the FRA, which has been actively with us every step of the way, and not the V.V.A., which has also been directly involved with the legislative process to restore our benefits.

But outside of financial support for the Haas case, and a few resolutions on our behalf at their annual conventions, the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars have been noticeably absent.

That said, we need to hammer the VFW and the American Legion for never applying enough pressure by their legislative staff, and their Sr. Officers to get Filner and Akaka to pass the legislation.

Beyond funding the Haas Case, which I question would EVER have been a precedent since Haas was claiming direct exposure, the VFW and the Legion have done nothing, zilch, zero.

Why would you remain with a Veterans Organization that doesn't support you?

I'm sorry, I love the VFW. It is the first VSO I ever joined. A BT Chief came around the ship within hours of our first crossing into the Combat Zone and signed us up for $5 a pop in the Fall River, Mass. VFW Post. When I moved to my present location I went into the local VFW Post and fell in love with it. The people made me feel welcome without knowing a thing about me. I still feel that way even though they know me now. :)

I joined the American Legion when I got home, my father's post, and was elected as the youngest Jr. Vice Commander ever in my state. It didn't last, as I attended the meetings long enough to see they spent 10 minutes with the bar closed, raced through the meeting, and then opened the bar again, all without leaving their seats at the bar and the poker tables.

Great guys, lots of fun, but...

Now here we are 43 years later and what has either done for me? That may be short sighted, but as far as I can tell, they've concentrated on the WW I, WW II, and Korean war Vets, and skipped us entirely. I don't begrudge those Vets their organizational services, but would have liked to have been under that same umbrella. I never felt it was there for us.

Face it. we fought a war during which a minority of folks poisoned our legacy at home while the Government poisoned us in theater.

Two Vietnam Vets who served in the Navy have run for President, one a phony hero, the other legitimately a hero, and both were soundly defeated. There is a message in that. The people have never forgotten or forgiven us for the sins that were falsely charged to our accounts.

If we want that legacy, if we want those benefits, we must engage in unconventional warfare.

I am sending my VFW and American Legion Life Membership Cards back to their respective national HQ and renouncing my membership in both organizations. I am sending this statement with it:

Dear National Commander of the American Legion,

I am returning and renouncing my life membership in the American Legion to protest the extremely dissatisfying lack of public and lobbying pressure on Congress to restore presumptive Agent Orange benefits to Blue Water Navy, Blue Sky Air Force, and Thailand, Laos and Cambodia Veterans of the Vietnam War. Legislation a decade or more ago should have been enacted and would have corrected the path on which the DVA was embarked to deprive more and more Vietnam Veterans of their legacy and their rightful benefits. This inaction is disgraceful in a national Veterans Service Organization of the stature of the American Legion.

Merely mouthing words at a table in front of the Congressional Committees on Veterans Affairs, and issuing a resolution at a national convention is tantamount to lip service toward the hundreds of thousands of remaining Vietnam Veterans. Instead, your inaction has led to a whole class of Veterans being reclassified as Vietnam Era Veterans, no longer Vietnam Veterans, and the deprivation of rightful benefits.

It is to the utter shame of the American Legion that your inaction has led to the early deaths of far too many Vietnam Veterans, and the deprivation of benefits for tens of thousands of widows and survivors who will now never see a penny from the DVA.

American Legion, you have left us behind.

Sincerely,

Life Member # xxxxxxxxxx
I will of course substitute Veterans of Foreign Wars for American Legion with my second letter.

I will also remain a member of the Home Association of both of my local posts. It is not their fault that the National Officers have failed us.

I will be mailing these out on Monday.

I'm tired of waiting around and doing nothing while Congress fiddles with Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran resolutions [HRes 234] that do not include us instead of passing the legislation we need now!

Anyone care to join me in this?

VNVets

”It is a stain on this nation's honor that the Department of Veterans Affairs has become a deadlier and more difficult adversary to the American veteran than any they have ever faced on a battlefield."-- VNVets

"The concept that Agent Orange, and its effects, stopped dead in its tracks at the shoreline is simply too illogical, and too ludicrous to accept. What does that say about the Bush Administration and his Department of Veterans Affairs?"--VNVets

"With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan--to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations." --President Abraham Lincoln

"It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious."--President George Washington

Copyright © 2005-2009: VNVets Blog -- Now in our Fifth Year of Service to Veterans; All Rights Reserved.

6 comments:

  1. Anonymous11:08

    Have to agree about the VSO's, I can remember the 60's when neither of them really welcomed us and, you're correct about Haas....had it stood, the DVA would have soon found a way to shut the door on the majority of us. I told both VSO's to take a walk years ago, now belong to DAV who, while they may not do as much as they can, certainly do more than the other two.

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  2. Anonymous12:24

    Bravo. I too will join in with my lifetime membership to the DAV. I have tried on many occassions to get them to take a stand on AO.

    Thailand Vet

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  3. I'd hold off on the DAV. They do a fantastic job of getting Veterans Claimns approved.

    Most of their money goes toward this.

    VNVets

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  4. Anonymous01:04

    I agree on DAV, they work hard for individual veterans claims. Here in Florida, the county contracts with DAV to provide the County Vet Service Rep. This guy is paid very little but gets fantastic results...he really cares.

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  5. Anonymous01:10

    Regarding your comment on John McCain; I really don't feel he was defeated because he was a VN vet, the fact is, although I feel he was the better man, he ran a very poor campaign....sad but true. He is twice the man Obama is but not even half the speaker. The present economic crisis sealed his fate.

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  6. Actually, McCain lost for a number of reasons but paramount among them was the near-total liberal bias in the Media. They created an anti-war candidate and dragged out their old prejudices against the Vietnam War. John did not campaign on it, but when he did, they landed hard -- questioning his physical and mental condition to be president after such an ordeal, and on TV: mocking him at every turn, particularly Letterman.

    This all has its roots in the Vietnam War history.

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