I know that volunteering isn’t always easy and it’s almost never convenient, but to those of you who chose to participate in last year’s events, you have my utmost respect and gratitude. 2015 was one more in a long line of productive years for TAVV. And if it’s productive for TAVV, it’s productive for all veterans. I expect no less in 2016.
After completing the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument in 2014, a stand down would’ve seemed appropriate. My guess is that about half of TAVV participated in the monument project in one way or another, whether serving on a committee, lending your expertise, reading names, supporting the exhibits, or serving in the Color Guard, the Firebase Team, or as a member of the Patriot Guard. With four of our members serving on the 11-man Monument Executive Committee, TAVV was committed from the beginning. You folks never let us down. Although the monument was a hard act to follow, it was but one mission.
Our members went on in 2015 to participate in many Statewide events, including VA hospital visits in Kerrville, the Tet Reunion in Abilene, a Vietnam War Commemoration in Leander, the installation of the Texas Vietnam Hero Tag Exhibit in College Station, the Vietnam National War Museum in Mineral Wells, the Independence Day Parade in Lakeway, a memorial service for Vietnam casualties in El Campo, the Red, White, and Blue Banquet in Bastrop, and the Memorial Day Ceremony in Round Rock.
Locally, many TAVV members were involved in Honor Flight Austin as either guests or guardians. At the annual Muster Days Event at Camp Mabry, TAVV again displayed Vietnam era military items and vended military memorabilia. When the Daughters of the American Revolution celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on Memorial Day at the State Cemetery, TAVV’s Firebase Team was there. Later, a few TAVV members were honored at a DAR Veterans Appreciation Banquet. At the annual VVA 915 POW Recognition Ceremony at the State Cemetery, TAVV again shared in the duties and responsibilities. And as in past years, many of you participated in the VFW’s annual Homeless Veterans Stand Down at VFW Post 856. With regard to Veterans Day, TAVV represented our generation well in the downtown parade, not only as a “marching” unit but also as members of the organizing committee. At the Veterans Day Ceremony at the State Capitol, TAVV provided both the Color Guard and the Firebase Team. And last but certainly not least, several of you spoke at local schools throughout the year about your Vietnam experiences.
And then there were awards. Many of our members were recognized for their service to the veterans community. Robert Floyd, Chairman of the Monument Executive Committee, was acknowledged at many events for being instrumental in giving Texas Vietnam veterans the monument they so rightly deserve. My Texas Vietnam Hero Tag Exhibit received a fair share of attention, and is now on permanent display at the Museum of the American GI in College Station. For his continuous service to veterans, TAVV Secretary John Miterko received the Americanism Award from the Forty and Eight Veterans Honor Society. My brother Ron and I received complimentary trips to Vietnam from Operation Comfort for our assistance to veterans and were later named national VA Veterans of the Day. For his service to home-less veterans, TAVV Vice President Joe Boatman received a scholar-ship to the Veterans Entrepreneur Academy to assist in the operation of his non-profit Veterans Connection Thrift Store. And TAVV State Representative Jim Torres, who serves with Joe on the Round Rock War Memorial Committee, received recognition from Congressman John Carter for his service to the Williamson County veterans’ community.
The cornerstone of TAVV has always been The Perimeter. Without Donna Goodwin to compile, organize, and present this outstanding newsletter, TAVV would probably have accomplished very little. Our regular columns keep you informed about legislation, legal aid, POWs, Agent Orange, mental health, general health, comrades in dis-tress, veteran homelessness, and many other items of interest to our veteran community. And most likely due to Donna’s efforts, we added 11 new members last year and forged new alliances with organizations such as the El Campo VVA chapter, the local DAR, TexVet, and the Lost Pines Leathernecks of Bastrop.
2015 was a good year for TAVV, but it ended on a sad note with the loss of yet another member. This past year, TAVV lost four of its most respected leaders: former Vice President Bob Solomon, Monument Executive Committee member Terry Burkett, Turkey Fry coordinator Will Rogers, and VA Volunteer Chairman Sid Hull. We’ll miss them all, but as we honor their memories, we’ll soldier on. It’s what we do.
It’s a new year now. We’re older, maybe wiser, but certainly less healthy and fewer in number. With more missions ahead, that means we must close ranks and step up to share the load. Please become involved. All of you benefit from the efforts of a few, and it really doesn’t have to be that way. Do something for someone other than yourself. Do it while you’re able.
See you on Thursday.
Don Dorsey, President
The Austin Chapter of Texas Association of Vietnam Veterans (TAVV) meets Thursday, January 14, 2016 - 7:00 pm at VFW Post 856 — 406 E Alpine Rd - Austin, Texas 78704.