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VSO Invited to Attend Veteran’s March in DC


By Staff Writer: Rick Townsend


March 30, 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 enjoy the luxury of big bank accounts, 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 bipartisan, pro-veteran rally planned for next month on 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 extended invitations to all NVSO to attend and participate in the program. To date, response from the NVSO leadership has been slow in coming, and indications imply they will not be there. According to sources within a few of these NVSOs, some organizations 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. Rally organizers are very concerned about how the NVSO leadership portrays their efforts to their rank and file membership.    


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. “It appears, these organizations were chartered by Congress, and therefore their allegiance is to Congress, not the veterans,” Simes stated. “Additionally, there is some friction and animosity between a few of these service organizations, which makes it extremely difficult to get them to agree on anything. We are providing these NVSOs with the opportunity to meet on neutral ground to address matters of importance to them all,” Simes said.   


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. The NVSOs have no political clot or vote leverage whatsoever,” [Name Omitted] said. “This is one of the reasons for our Rally next month. We want to give our former military a real and legitimate voice in Washington,” [Name Omitted] added.    


Many veterans across the country view these NVSOs as ‘straddling the fence” when it comes to veterans’ affairs. Both Simes and [Name Omitted] suggested the NVSOs take a stand for the people they supposedly represent, the veterans. “We are extending our hand to all veterans’ service organizations 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.


Several dozen shadow rallies are planned to occur simultaneously with the DC Rally across the U.S. and Australia. In addition, many non-chartered veterans’ service organizations are planning to attend and participate in next month’s activities. Rally organizers say a list of speakers and program will be published by the 2nd week in April.


According to event organizers, there will be two types of Americans in this country next month - those who show active support for our troops and veterans, and those who do not.


For more information, visit: WWW.VetMarch2006.NET  



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