A collaborative effort between Vietnam
Veterans of America, various other Veterans groups, Local community
groups, Anti-Drugs Program, the clergy, law enforcement and educators
has been formed to reduce the efforts of drugs and Violence on our
local youth.. Veterans will be visiting classrooms and volunteering
by stressing the five core values of the Veterans Against Drugs program.
core values are: Respect & Camaraderie, Loyalty & Compassion,
Honesty & Integrity, Meaningful Achievement and Advocacy.
are three other programs developed by Veterans Against Drugs including
an Anti-Violence program, an advanced drug prevention program for a
more mature audience, an a new, exciting, patriotism program.
”Commit To Life” is designed to help youth develop responsibility, good
judgement and commitment to their families, schools, communities and
Veterans will go into the communities to visit students, detention
centers and youth organizations to educate and demonstrate support.
Veterans will also participate in many programs already in place to
support our youth.
This program is done on a community basis with support
from local organizations.
If you are interested in joining the Veterans
Against Drugs Program, (VAD) please contact: Dave Simmons at 1-800-882-1316 or e-mail email@example.com.
Winning Hearts and Minds in Silver Spring:
VVA's Veterans Against Drugs and Violence Committee Launches "First Annual All Skate Free"
"We want to welcome you to the 'First Annual Community Day All Skate Free,' Sponsored by Vietnam Veterans of America's Veterans Against Drugs and Violence (VAD) committee," announced VVA Vice President Fred Elliott over the loudspeaker to all who had come out on Valentine's Day for an evening of fun and education.
Dave Simmons, chair of the VAD Committee, noted, "Tonight is special, because we are here in Silver Spring's Veterans Plaza, and this location just makes good sense. We are veterans; the name of the program is Veterans Against Drugs; and we are within a block of our national headquarters." Simmons went on to explain the VAD program: "We do outreach events like this in communities nationwide. Our anti-drug and -violence projects are done in different ways in communities all over the country, for example, in West Virginia, we roller skate, and in Alaska we take the kids out on horseback for wilderness camping."
Said Elliott, as he and his wife, Marie, greeted the young skaters and handed out VAD literature to the children, parents, and others who stopped by, "this event is a huge success, well beyond anything we had anticipated. We had hoped for 200 skaters; we felt that if we could hit that number, we would have reached our goal. At last count, we had 229 skaters."
Past AVVA President Elaine Simmons, who distributed dozens of red carnations, donated by Bell Florist in Silver Spring, observed, "This is truly VVA in service to America. The national headquarters has made its presence known in its local community."
As VVA staff and members of VVA Chapter 641 distributed brochures, as well as pads, pens, and water bottles donated by Monument Bank, they were heartened by the warmth and gratitude of those who came out for the event. One young couple, in town from Atlanta, came by the table to thank VVA. "It's my wife's first time on skates, and my second time. This is for a good cause and we wanted to support it, thank you VVA."
Noted VVA's Tom Berger, "this is almost overwhelming; it's been a long while since I have seen so many happy people in one place."
"Our objectives are twofold," explained Deborah Williams, VVA staff member and VAD program facilitator for the D.C. area. "We want to get the anti-drug and -violence message out to the children and their parents, and we want to let the community of Silver Spring know that we are here and that we want to be active in our community." She noted, as parents, we can equip our children with what we know, but we need the help of others to reinforce our message, and that is where VAD makes the difference. "My sister was a drug addict," shared Williams. "It impacted our family tremendously. She ended up dying at a young age from a drug overdose. That is why I asked to become part of VAD."
Added Williams, "I can't wait to do it again. Skating is a great way for kids to burn off energy. VAD promotes healthy activities, because we want to encourage kids to be fit and healthy and to look for other things than getting high."
"We were able to reach out and touch an awful lot of people and inform them about our program and our organization," observed Elliott. "It was a win-win-win success—I could not have been happier. This is something we need to do more often, and hopefully this is the first of many more events in Silver Spring."
Honoring Vietnam Vets is a cause dear to country singer Paulette Carlson’s
‘‘What took me back to my music was
a song I had written called `Thank You Vets,’ ’’ she says. ‘‘My brother,
Gary, served in Vietnam in 1968 with the 82nd Airborne and in 1969
with the 173rd Airborne. Gary was a medic. He was 17 when he landed
in Vietnam and was convoyed up to Hue in the first days of February
1968. ’’ She wrote "Thank
You Vets" in the fall of 2004 when he was in a VA hospital with
Agent Orange-related liver cancer. "The war had finally caught
up with him," she says, "and I thought we were going to lose
him. I pulled my guitar out of my closet, sat on my bed, and ‘Thank
You Vets’ wrote itself in ten minutes. I don't think I changed a lyric
Paulette lost her brother a year later.
"When a song comes that quickly, all you have to do is pick up
a pen,” says Paulette, the founding member and lead singer of the acclaimed
country music band Highway 101. “I knew I could not, in good conscience,
put this song on the shelf with the other songs I had been writing.
This song needed to be heard. Who knows why a song like this writes
itself after all these years? All I know is that "Thank You Vets" was
given to me, and I knew I had to go back to work so this song could
Paulette’s work in support of Vietnam Veterans of America began with
a phone call requesting an opportunity to share “Thank You Vets” with
Vietnam veterans gathered in Tucson in the summer of 2006 for the national
leadership conference. Her desire to share her song was a gift to those
who were there. It wasn’t long before VVA took her up on her offer
to record public service messages for the Veterans Against Drugs Task
Force. She also performed at the Sylvan Theatre on the grounds of the
Washington Monument as part of VVA’s celebration of the 25th anniversary
of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Paulette’s dedication to veterans
continues with her work on behalf of VVA.