We have taken the Vietnam Veterans of America [VVA] to task on more than one occasion here. Unfortunately it seems that we must do so again.
It has become apparent that to the VVA, Blue Water Navy Veterans are, following the lead of current Department of Veterans Affairs Policy, NOT Vietnam Veterans.
VVA’s National leadership has made a number of alliances that almost totally relegate the Blue Water Navy to a status not worth their efforts, placing them behind those who served on Guam, Okinawa, Korea, Johnston Island, and so on. There is nothing coming out of the VVA concerning the BWN. Indeed, they totally ignore small Vietnam Veterans organizations, foregoing their additional numbers, and organizational strength, to further their non-BWN agenda.
The shame of it is that they ignore men who fought on the coast of Vietnam, received the same Vietnam Service Medal the guys on the ground received, and frequently supported Army and Marine units ashore with naval artillery, and who delivered much of the supplies the folks on the ground consumed.
Take for example the latest VVA Web Weekly, advertised as the “Memorial Day Web Weekly.” The VVA Web Weekly, unlike the newsletters of the other major Veterans Service Organizations that arrive on Fridays, arrives on various days the following week. The current edition includes a link to a section on their website called “Faces of Agent Orange.” It is concerned mainly with children of Vietnam Veterans exposed to Agent Orange, and the birth defect disorders of those children. One of the faces included on the list has NO LINK TO AGENT ORANGE OR VIETNAM, but worked in the fight to help children with such afflictions by starting an organization to work on their behalf, which later began including AO related birthd efects. No one on the list of people whose stories you can read was strictly about a Blue Water Sailor’s story. There were a couple of stories that included information about Blue Water Sailors who ALSO served ashore or in the Riverine Forces. The DVA would not question their right to presumptive exposure.
So where are the stories of the Blue Water Navy’s genetically malformed children and grandchildren?
Now lest you think us callous, we do not denigrate or decry this VVA effort. Instead, we say to the VVA, “Okay, you are doing work for every facet of Vietnam Veterans except for the Blue Water Navy? You have never reached out to all the Vietnam Blue Water Navy groups to coordinate efforts to pass legislation RESTORING them to presumptive eligibility. We see nothing in the Web Weekly issues that points to ANY work done on the current bills in Congress, S1629, and HR 3612. We may have gotten a paragraph buried in your annual Legislative Agenda and read before the Joint Committee on Veterans Affairs. Lip service.
We have personally reached out to the VVA legislative director on many occasions, and we have been, in a word, ignored. VASVW has almost 500 members. Imagine what kind of strength the Blue Water Navy Veterans would have if it had the full support of the 50,000 members of the VVA!
But the VVA apparently could not be bothered.
We have considered renouncing our membership in VVA. The difference between 50,000 and 49,999 is small, of course, but we would be remiss if we failed to make a statement about an organization that essentially exists to advocate on our behalf and does not do so.
VVA touts its founding principle:
"Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another."
We ask, “What about the ‘one generation’ that is our own?”
They claim as their goal:
“VVA's goals are to promote and support the full range of issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to change public perception of Vietnam veterans.”
We ask, what about the Blue Water Navy issues? Where is the support?
What a shame. What a sham.
At VASVW we do our own advocacy, and we do it without benefit of the resources of the VVA. On the other hand, we have support from the Fleet Reserve Association and the American Legion.
Feel free to join the Veterans Association of Sailors of the Vietnam War. We take action on our own behalf. Our members all participate in decision making and in taking legislative advocacy action to get the AO BWN Bill passed. Join us and do your part.
”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 Obama 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
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