Entries for September, 2014

VVA165 Hosts Very Successful Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting

VVA Chapter 165 of Bellingham held a Town Hall meeting on the “Faces of Agent Orange” on Friday, September 19th which almost overwhelmed the auditorium at the St. Luke’s Health, Education Community Center in Bellingham. Just over 300 attendees from BC to Whatcom and Skagit Counties and even as far away as Lacey came to hear compelling testimonials on Vietnam Veterans who themselves and children alike suffer from the effects of Agent Orange.

After appropriate introductions were made , which included honoring the POW / MIA national recognition day, the audience had the unique opportunity to hear from Jack McManus who himself was a crew chief in Operation Ranch Hand which sprayed the chemical dioxin known as Agent Orange during the peak years of dispersion — ’67-’68. The effects of Agent Orange that he not only incurred but what he saw as impact on the troops who came into contact with the substance –  paved a road that led him to do further research over the years into what has been recognized as a medical travesty to Veteran’s and their families. His understanding of the situation and issues along with his strong advocacy to “right” the situation has helped lead VVA National to be the foremost Veteran organization in helping to create legislation on toxic exposure research and military family support. He captivated the audience.

The other guest speaker who was great to have present was the Founder of the AVVA – Nancy Switzer. A wife of a Vietnam Vet impacted by Agent Orange himself, led to effects that have since transcended to her daughter, son and grandchildren. Her heartfelt experiences and determination to “do something about the impact” given her nursing background has since created an outspoken advocate for Veterans suffering from the effects of agent orange and the impact on their families. She is the Chairman of the AVVA Agent Orange Committee and is also a longtime advisor to the Vietnam Veterans of America legislative and health committees. Her story was  captivating as well and was  followed by a video of recent Senate legislation presented from Senator Moran of Kansas S. 2738 – Toxic Exposure Research Act of 2014.

There were over 35 testimonials that were registered or just over 10% of the attendees. Besides Vietnam Veterans offering testimony, there were numerous wives who provided testimony along with several children of Vets who told there story of impacting developments on themselves.

After the meeting was concluded, many positive comments in holding this type of town hall format were taken in by the members of our chapter who themselves were very highly motivated in making this event a successful outreach to the veteran community. We can attribute the success of this event in the support VVA National provided. There have now been over 110 town hall meetings around the country and we were the 111th – some say a lucky number — but as Nancy Switzer said (who has attended many of these meetings) probably one of the highest attended Town Hall meetings she has seen – and the quality of testimonials was tremendous. We will be supplying VVA National with some good solid information on “getting the word out” and “Vets helping Vets”.

Minutes of Meeting September 2, 2014

General Meeting called to order at @ 6:45 PM by President Gene Goldsmith

Pledge of Allegiance

Invocation by Tom Darling

Moment of silence for POW/MIA

Roll Call of officers

Gene Goldsmith, Pres                     Present

Ken Richardson, VP                         Excused

Bill Cox, Secretary                            Present

Tom Modica, Treasurer                   Present

Jim Pace, B of D                               Present      Fiscal 2016

Tom Darling, B of D                         Present      Fiscal 2015

Richard Martinez, B of D                 Present      Fiscal 2015

John Bradshaw, B of D                   Present      Fiscal 2016

Randy Elmore, B of D                      Present      Fiscal 2014

Greg Bremer, B of D                        Excused      Fiscal 2016

Steve White, B of D                         Emeritus deceased


Ron Eriksen

New members present



Secretary’s July minutes were reviewed prior to the meeting by the membership. Minutes were approved as drafted.

Treasurer’s September report was read by Tom Modica. The report was approved as read and the report is attached. Three other matters were raised at this time. First, discussion of a service account was deferred. Second, a discussion ensued about the chapter needing to pay for some unreimbursed expenses related to the upcoming Agent Orange Town hall meeting. The amount was uncertain. A motion was made and seconded to authorize the chapter expenditure of between $600 and $1,500 to fund unreimbursed expenses of the September 19th Agent Orange Town hall meeting. Motion passed. Third, a discussion ensued about the chapter’s contribution to the DAV for the acquisition of a new van for the DAV. In return for a contribution of $1,000 the chapter would get their name on the van. A motion was made and seconded that the chapter contribute $1,000 to the DAV to be used as part of the acquisition price of a new van for the DAV. Motion passed.

Membership Update was given by Jim Pace. The chapter currently has 145 members. Jim would like to get the membership up to 150 members because at that threshold the chapter gets another vote on state voting matters.


Old Business


The Car Show was summarized by Tom Modica. The car show was a success with 124 registered cars. The chapter made about $3,800 from the show. Tom and Dale Boe gave out thank you plaques to the chapter members who sponsored an award. Plaques were give to Dale Boe (Thai House), John Forgette, Gerry Flowers, Randy Elmore, Ray Radke and Randy Turnbull. A picture of the winning vehicle for each award category was included with the respective award plaque. The chapter thanked Tom and Dale for a job well done.

The Agent Orange Town Hall Meeting was discussed by Bill Bowen, Gary Lysne, Jim Pace and Gene Goldsmith. It is in Bellingham on September 19th between 1 and 4 PM. All chapter members are requested to attend. This is an outreach to all affected veterans and their families. Soda, water and coffee will be available. There are approximately 400 seats available in the hall and ample parking is on site. All members need to get the word out to the community to attend. Posters have been extensively distributed but if you need more, see Bill Bowen. There has been or will be other advertising in print and radio.

Bus Passes for VASH participants was discussed by Tom Modica. It would cost the chapter $300 per year. It would provide 100 bus passes to VASH veterans. The check goes to the WTA. Motion made and seconded to provide $300 to the WTA for VASH veteran’s bus passes. Motion passed.


New Business


A Fund Raiser at the Chevy/Cadillac dealership was discussed by Tom Modica. The dealership provides the hot dogs and hamburgers. The chapter sells the food and keeps the proceeds. T-shirts will also be sold. About 10 to 12 chapter members are needed. A signup sheet was distributed. The fund raiser will be held on September 27th  between 9 AM and 3 PM. Participants will meet at the VFW Hall to pick up needed items at 8 AM and then proceed to the dealership.

Next meeting is October 7, 2014.


Good of the Order


First, Gene Goldsmith discussed Military Appreciation Day at the Washington State Fair in Puyallup on September 8th and the 15th.

Second, Gene Goldsmith discussed the 50th Anniversary Commemoration of the Vietnam War to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. This is a salute to Vietnam-era veterans and will be held October 9, 2014 between 1 and 5 PM.

Third, Gene Goldsmith recommended several books. See him if you are interested.

Fourth, Tom Darling recommended a museum that he visited. See him for details.

Fifth, Gene Goldsmith discussed a very impressive veteran’s cemetery in Boulder, CO that he visited.

Sixth, Tom Modica showed the membership a map of Vietnam that he intends to hang in the VFW.

Seventh, Gene Goldsmith discussed some correspondence and a meeting he had with the DOD criticizing the DOD for the premature release of mentally or physically damaged service people into the VA system. He also discussed the culture of corruption currently within the VA.

Eighth, Randy Elmore discussed additional contributions to the Vietnamese charity to which the chapter is contributing. It was determined that this discussion is premature.


Motion to adjourn meeting at 8:00 PM. Motion passed and meeting adjourned by Gene Goldsmith.