NVSO Leadership Snubs Veteran’s March in DC
April 10, 2006
There are approximately 50 “Congressionally Chartered” National Veterans Service Organizations (NVSO) in the United States. These national organizations were created and chartered by Congress to assist our former military personnel with issues that affect them, including assistance with filing VA claims. The most recognizable of these national organizations are, Veterans of Foreign War (VFW), Disabled American Veterans (DAV), American Legion, AMVETS, and Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA). A few of these organizations have well over one million members and substantial funding, while others are struggling to stay afloat. Most of these NVSOs do wonderful work and provide a valuable civic service, while others are preoccupied with merchandizing, membership drives, and futile political lobbing.
Operation Firing For Effect – The Veteran’s March is a nonpartisan, pro-veteran rally planned for April 25th on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol in DC. The objectives of this grassroots movement; unite this country’s former military families in a common cause, and provide our veterans with a voice in matters that affect them.
In an effort to be all inclusive, rally organizers have extended invitations to all NVSO to attend and participate in the program. (You will find a copy of this invitation at the end of this article.) To date, response from the NVSO leadership has been slow in coming, and indicates they are reluctant to endorse or participate in this effort. According to sources within a few of these NVSOs, some organization leaders are implying they cannot participate in “an event” they did not sponsor or have control over. Or, they don’t get involved in civil rallies, protest, or demonstrations.
In a recent Firebase Network interview, rally organizers commented on the NVSO situation. Gene Simes is Chairman for the project and was quick to point out the dilemma these NVSO are facing. “There is some friction and animosity between several of these service organizations, which makes it difficult to get them to agree on anything. We are providing ALL NVSOs the opportunity to meet on neutral ground to address matters of importance to their membership,” Simes said.
Simes noted that many individual chapters and post from several of these NVSOs have donated funds to produce this event. “One of our biggest supporters is an American Legion Post in Philadelphia. Several individual Vietnam Veterans of America chapters and Disabled American Veterans chapters have donated funding as well. They have done this on their own without the endorsement or support of their national leadership. These individual chapters are the people that are paying for this event and we salute them for their generosity and support. However, we have been unable to get a response from the NVSOs at the national level,” Simes stated. You can view a list of project supporter’s and donors at; WWW.VetMarch2006.NET
Long time veteran’s rights advocate [Name Omitted], of Jefferson Ohio is the project Public Relations Director. According to [Name Omitted], the NVSOs are not in a position to criticize Congress because their bylaws forbid them from doing so. “This makes it extremely difficult for these ‘service organizations’ to represent their membership and protect their member’s benefits and services. This is one of the reasons for our Rally next month. We want to provide our former military personnel a real and legitimate voice in Washington,” [Name Omitted] added.
Many veterans across the country view their NVSOs leadership as ‘straddling the fence” when it comes to veterans’ affairs and Congress. Both Simes and [Name Omitted] suggested the NVSOs take a stand for the people they supposedly represent, the veterans. “We are extending our hand in good faith to all VSOs to help us unite this country’s veterans and families. Together we can make a positive impact on the future of veterans’ affair,” Gene Simes stated.
Operation Firing For Effect organizers point out that this is an election year. They also suggest that all of the NVSOs have strong ties to political loops in Washington, DC.
[Name Omitted] is assisting in compiling a list of speakers for the April 25th event. [Name Omitted] said that all NVSOs are all very aware of this event. “Apparently, they are going to remain silent about matters that affect their membership,” [Name Omitted] said. “We will have a speaker agenda published this week on our web site. Believe me; we don’t have a shortage of speakers for our program. In fact, we are overwhelmed with legitimate request to address the public,” [Name Omitted] added.
Both Simes and [Name Omitted] feel the NVSOs have reached a crucial fork in the road, and which road they take will determine their future usefulness to their membership.
Several dozen shadow rallies are planned to occur simultaneously with the DC Rally across the U.S. and even in Australia. In addition, many non-chartered veterans’ service organizations are planning to attend and participate in this month’s activities.
According to event organizers, there will be two types of Americans on April 25th - those who truly support our troops and veterans, and those who do not. It will be very interesting to see if this country’s veterans can unite under the common cause of improving and protecting veteran’s benefits and services for future generations. Organizers are counting on a large turnout in DC and around the country on April 25th. The following day, April 26th, movement leaders will meet with legislators in the Cannon building to further address concerns.
For more information, visit: WWW.VetMarch2006.NET
[Reporter Comment:] It will take an extremely large turnout on the 25th & 26th to compete with recent media coverage of pro-alien demonstrations - which continue to gain momentum across the country. It is a sad day in this country when “non-U.S. citizens” can demonstrate and demand their “rights” - while our treasured former military personnel and their families are facing dramatic increases in health care coverage and service reductions. The real question is; will our veterans unite when given the opportunity? I guess we will all know the answer to that on April 27th.
[NOTE: The Firebase Network is totally responsible for the accuracy and content of this report. Please direct all comments to; Rick Townsend firstname.lastname@example.org ]
The following invitation was provided to the Firebase Network by Operation Firing For Effect.
All National Veterans Service Organizations
Please consider this letter a Formal Invitation for you and your organization’s membership to attend Operation Firing For Effect - The Veteran’s March, on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 on the west lawn of the Capitol in Washington, DC.
It is our primary objective to produce a dignified and well-rounded program. We are compiling a list of guest speakers and experts from all areas of this country’s veteran’s affairs. Therefore, as a recognized veteran’s service organization, we are very interested in what you have to say.
I have enclosed Public Relations Release #1 for your review. If your organization would like to provide a Speaker for this event, please contact me ASAP. If you have additional questions, I will be happy to address them as well. Unfortunately, we are pressed for time and I respectfully request you give this matter your immediate attention. I am awaiting your reply.
Thank you very much for your continued service to our veterans.
Gene D. Simes,
President VFVC, Chairman, Operation Firing for Effect - The Veterans March.