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(This commentary piece also appears in THE VETERAN, Spring 2010 (Volume 40, Number 1).)

From the National Office

By Barry Romo

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In every book on VVAW, we get praised for understanding and using the media to get our point across.

VVAW has to isolate its enemies and gain as many friends as possible.

VVAW, with help from our friends, got PTSD recognized as a service connected disability. When we first came across this illness, we called it Post Vietnam Syndrome. We learned more and came to understand PTSD better as we helped more of our members and other vets deal with its devastating symptoms. It was this work that led to its recognition. We didn't get it by burning flags or insulting our neighbors. We did it by explaining the problem and then moving forward with concrete solutions like disability payments and vets centers.

The same goes for Agent Orange poisoning. We publicized the problem, built a movement and got results even if they were limited.

It is our responsibility to do that again with the upcoming comprehensive Agent Orange bill.

It vital that we help Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW). We must support our brother and sister veterans by participating in their events and fundraisers.

Finally, it is important that we recognize three staff people who do outstanding work for all of us and who help make VVAW what it is. Ray Parrish helps vets win their benefits. Hans Buwalda gives psychiatric counseling and intervention, literally saving lives. And last but not least, Jeff Machota puts out this paper, mails it to you, mails our fundraising letters, handles the web site and answers the mail. If they were paid by the hour we would be broke. They accept a salary now for things they were doing for free. These people truly embody our slogan, "fighting for veterans, peace and justice."


Barry Romo is one of the VVAW national coordinators.

New York City VVAW, Veterans Day 2009

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