Vietnam Veterans of America
|Founder(s)||Bobby Muller and Stuart F. Feldman|
|Area served||United States|
Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. (VVA) is a national non-profit corporation founded in 1978 in the United States that promotes the interests of United States military veterans of the Vietnam War era. It is funded without any contribution from any branch of government. VVA is the only such organization chartered by the United States Congress and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam veterans and their families. The group holds a congressional charter under Title 36 of the United States Code.
VVA aims to campaign on issues important to Vietnam veterans, to create a new identity for this generation of veterans, and to improve public perception of Vietnam veterans. The organization's main efforts concern:
- Government Relations Advocacy on veterans' issues
- National Task Force for Homeless Veterans
- Health care for veterans, including disabled veterans
- Issues pertaining to women and minority veterans
- National scholarship fund
- Assisting veterans seeking benefits/services from the government
- Organizes "Stand Downs" for the hard to reach homeless veteran in need of services.
VVA has organizing councils in 43 states, 525 local chapters, and over 50,000 individual members.
Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.
In January 1978, a small group of Vietnam veteran activists came to Washington, D.C., searching for allies to support the creation of an advocacy organization devoted exclusively to the needs of Vietnam veterans. VVA, initially known as the Council of Vietnam Veterans, began its work. By the summer of 1979, the Council of Vietnam Veterans had transformed into Vietnam Veterans of America, a veterans service organization made up of, and devoted to, Vietnam veterans. Bobby Muller and Stuart F. Feldman were among the organization's co-founders.
Membership grew steadily, and for the first time, VVA secured significant contributions. The combination of the public's willingness to talk about the Vietnam War and the basic issues that it raised, as well as the veterans themselves coming forward, was augmented by the nation's dedication of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in November 1982. The week-long activities rekindled a sense of brotherhood among the veterans and a feeling that they shared an experience that was too significant to ignore.
In 1983, VVA took a significant step by founding Vietnam Veterans of America Legal Services (VVALS) to provide assistance to veterans seeking benefits and services from the government. By working under the theory that a veteran representative should be an advocate for the veteran rather than simply a facilitator, VVALS quickly established itself as the most competent and aggressive legal-assistance program available to veterans. VVALS published the most comprehensive manual ever developed for veteran service representatives, and in 1985, VVALS wrote the widely acclaimed Viet Vet Survival Guide — over 150,000 copies of which are now in print.
The next several years saw VVA grow in size, stature, and prestige. VVA's professional membership services, veterans service, and advocacy work gained the respect of Congress and the veterans community. In 1986, VVA's exemplary work was formally acknowledged by the granting of a congressional charter.
Today, Vietnam Veterans of America has a national membership of approximately 50,000, with 635 chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. VVA state councils coordinate the activities of local chapters. VVA places great emphasis on coordinating its national activities and programs with the work of its local chapters and state councils and is organized to ensure that victories gained at the national level are implemented locally.
Presidents of VVA
- John Rowan, 2005–present
- Thomas H. Corey, 2001–2005
- George C. Duggins, 1997–2001
- James L. Brazee, Jr., 1991–1997
- Mary Stout, 1987–1991
- Bobby Muller 1978-1987
VVA helps to provide greater public awareness of the outstanding issues surrounding Vietnam-era veterans by disseminating written information on a continual basis. The VVA Veteran, VVA's award-winning magazine, is mailed to all VVA members and friends of the organization. In addition, self-help guides on issues such as Agent Orange, to Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, to discharge upgrading are published and made available to anyone interested.
- Naedele, Walter F. "Stuart F. Feldman, prime Constitution Center supporter", The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 17, 2010. Accessed July 22, 2010.