Vietnam Veterans of America

Chapter 137 Dallas

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About Us

Who Are We?

Founded in 1978, Vietnam Veterans of America is the only  national Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively  dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA is organized as a  not-for-profit corporation and is tax-exempt under Section 501(c)(19) of the  Internal Revenue Service Code


"Never again will one  generation of veterans abandon another."


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.


Over 65,000 individual members 48 state councils 650 local chapters


Aggressively advocate on issues important to veterans Seek full access to quality health care for veterans Identify the full range of disabling injuries and illnesses incurred during  military service Hold government agencies accountable for following laws mandating veterans  health care Create a positive public perception of Vietnam veterans Seek the fullest possible accounting of America's POW/MIAs Support the next generation of America's war veterans

Serve our Communities

Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the only national  Vietnam veterans organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families.

By the late 1970s, it was clear the established veterans  groups had failed to make a priority of the issues of concern to Vietnam  veterans. As a result, a vacuum existed within the nation's legislative and  public agenda. 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. At the end  of its first year of operation in 1979, the total assets were $46,506.

Council members believed that if the nation's attention was  focused on the specific needs of Vietnam veterans, a grateful nation would  quickly take remedial steps. However, despite persuasive arguments before  Congress, which were amplified by highly supportive editorials printed in many  leading American newspapers, they failed to win even a single legislative  victory to bring new and needed programs into creation to help Vietnam veterans  and their families.

It soon became apparent that arguments couched simply in  terms of morality, equity, and justice were not enough. The U.S. Congress would  respond to the legitimate needs of Vietnam veterans only if the organization  professing to represent them had political strength. In this case, strength  translated into numbers which meant membership. 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.

Hindered by the lack of substantial funding for development,  the growth of membership was at first slow. The big breakthrough came when the  American hostages were returned from Iran in January 1981. It was as if America  went through an emotional catharsis that put the issues of the Vietnam era on  the table for public discussion. The question was asked why parades for the  hostages but not for Vietnam veterans? Many veterans complained about the lack  of recognition and appreciation for past national service. Vietnam-era veterans  wanted action in the form of programs that would place the latest generation of  veterans on the same footing as veterans from previous wars.

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. In the  nineties, VVALS evolved into the current VVA Service Representative program.

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.

VVA strives for individual and group empowerment and locally  originated action to assist veterans and other needy members of their  communities. These volunteer programs offer unique and innovative services to an  ever-widening population. They include: support for homeless shelters;  substance-abuse education projects and crime-prevention campaigns; sponsorship  of youth sports, Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, Big Brothers/Big Sisters; and relief to  other communities affected by natural disasters and chronic poverty.

VVA is governed by a national board of directors and by  national officers -- 24 women and men democratically elected by VVA delegates,  are sent by their respective chapters to biennial conventions. VVA's essential  purpose is to promote the educational, economic, health, cultural, and emotional  readjustment of the Vietnam-era veteran to civilian life. This is done by  promoting legislation and public-awareness programs to eliminate discrimination  suffered by Vietnam veterans.

VVA's government-relations efforts combine the three  ingredients essential to success in the legislative arena -- lobbying,  mobilizing constituents, and working with the media -- to achieve its ambitious  agenda. Legislative victories have included the establishment and extension of  the Vet Center system, passage of laws providing for increased job-training and  job-placement assistance for unemployed and underemployed Vietnam-era veterans,  the first laws assisting veterans suffering from Agent Orange exposure, and  landmark legislation (i.e., Judicial Review of veterans claims) permitting  veterans to challenge adverse VA decisions in court. All were enacted largely as  a result of VVA's legislative efforts.

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 newspaper, is mailed to all VVA members and friends of the  organization. In addition, self-help guides on issues such as Agent Orange and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder are published and made available to anyone interested.