New Mexico State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America
The Right Choice *Chartered by the Congress of the United States*
What is VVA?
VVA was formed in the mid-1970s to protect the rights, and promote the interests of Vietnam-era veterans. From its earliest days, VVAs leadership has pledged that never again will one generation of veterans abandon another and this promise holds true today.
In 1986, in recognition of its ongoing commitment and assistance to veterans, VVA has the singular distinction as the only Vietnam-era Veterans organization to be granted a congressional charter.
While VVA spans the globe with its programs and membership, its strength is in the United States. With approximately 62,000 members affiliated with chapters in every state, VVA brings its grass roots activities into the communities, homes, and lives of many people. For many, being involved in VVA is a stimulating, educational experience. Others see the unity of being affiliated with Vietnam-era veterans and the camaraderie and recognition of being involved with a national organization --- opportunities that are not available elsewhere. And everyone agrees that VVA is the organization that stands its ground on positions that affects the health and interests of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.
Women veterans are an integral part of VVA. As a leader in moving the agenda of women veterans, the pro-active approach of VVA benefits all women who served in the military regardless of time or place, both now and into the future.
Where to look for Members
Over 8.7 million men and women served during the Vietnam-era. They came from every walk of life, from every walk of life, from every community and from every state. You probably know quite a few friends, relatives, and neighbors. Vietnam-era veterans are everywhere.
People join for a variety of reasons. The most common reasons include being asked and wanting to support something they believe in. Other reasons may be more complex, such as:
Altruism support of the organization in order to help others.
Information receive specialized information that is not available elsewhere.
Involvement participate, have a voice, and play an active role in policy making and activities of the organization.
Networking meet people, learn new ideas and skills; promote your interests or business
Member benefits group insurance, affinity credit card and checks, travel opportunities, and more.
As veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces, as current and prospective members, and for the benefit of all Vietnam-era veterans who need help, it is our moral responsibility and obligation to promote and build VVAs membership into a strong united organization that can accomplish its goals.
Membership strength makes the difference and gives VVA the visibility and political clout where its needed in our local community, in our state legislatures, on Capitol Hill, and throughout the federal bureaucracy.
VVA offers a number of tools to make membership recruitment easier with promotional brochures, pocket membership applications, posters, bumper stickers, self-help and informational publications and The VVA Veteran newspaper.
Most members and associates have found that personal contact is by far the best and most effective way to recruit members. It works will in an organized setting or while meeting people in your personal and business travels. We also encourage chapters to submit public service announcements and advertisements for publication in your local newspaper and shoppers, and on radio and television to promote membership recruitment efforts. The outlets and possibilities are endless.
Carry pocket membership applications and/or brochures with you at all times. By being prepared, youll be ready to recruit.
Getting to Yes
Who should belong to VVA? Veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. military for other than training purposes (1) between February 28,1961 May 7, 1975 (in-country Vietnam) and (2) those who served between August 5, 1964 May 7, 1975 (in any duty location), can be members of VVA. If you believe in VVAs causes and programs, you should belong to VVA. If you want to be kept informed about Vietnam-era veterans issues, you should belong to VVA. If you believe in supporting a national organization that is dedicated exclusively to promoting Vietnam-era concerns you should belong to VVA. If you want the most up-to-date information on regular basis, you should belong to VVA.
The VVA story is an excellent way to share our programs and services with a prospective member and reinforce that message throughout the new member orientation process. It is especially important the recruiters are knowledgeable about VVA.
In recruiting, the five most important elements are to:
1. Ask Would you like to join?
2. Be prepared Carry applications at all times.
3. Be visible Wear VVA logo lapel pins, ball caps, jackets, and display VVA bumper stickers and license plates.
4. Always give a person options - Would you like to join as annual or life member? or, Would you like to volunteer on a committee, or, First come and see what were doing at a monthly meeting:
5. Call for action -Create a sense of urgency to make a decision and gain a persons commitment.
Would you like to join VVA? When asked, many Vietnam-era veterans will fill out an application without hesitation. Others may request additional information before making commitment. This may include a series of questions on you part to determine the level of interest and help the prospective member make a decision.
Wheres the club? VVA provides many opportunities to participate and socialize; however many members prefer not to be involved in a bar operation. The liability is too high and it requires ongoing maintenance and support.
Im not eligible, didnt serve in Country. The majority of Vietnam-era veterans served at duty stations in the United States, Europe; and in the Pacific. Membership in VVA is open to everyone who served on active duty (for other than training purposes): (1) between February 28, 1961 May 7, 1975 (in country Vietnam), and (2) between August 5, 1964 May 7, 1975 (in any duty location). After all, the problems that Vietnam-era veterans are experiencing were not caused or aggravated only in Vietnam.
Affordable Veterans Dues. Annual member dues are reasonable, only $20, just under 38 cents per week. Each member receives a subscription to the bi-monthly award-winning newspaper, The VVA Veteran, along with membership card and other member benefits. There is a real value here alone, plus member dues support veterans advocacy before the Department of Veterans Affairs and visibility from Capitol Hill.
Its important for a Veteran to join a Chapter. Most Americans are joiners and support causes and programs that they believe in, Veterans are no different. Typically, a person may say, Im not a joiner, because they do not want to be bothered or asked to hold an office. Or, they dont want people calling them to volunteer their time. People want to have the option, so you need to understand and respect their wishes. While VVA offers many opportunities for members and encourages them to get involved and participate, we know that card-carrying members are very important and provide the stability and strength needed to succeed on Capitol Hill.
I already belong to another organization. Many people are members and supporters of several community or national organizations. In fact, youve probably heard the old adage, that if you want something done, find someone who is already busy. The same holds true for VVA, but whether a member is interested in being an active participant or a card-carrying supporter, his or her membership is important.
I dont join unless I can be active. Use the feel, felt technique. I used to feel the same way, until I learned what VVA was doing in communities across America. I felt that it was for a worthy cause and the dues were reasonable, only $20 per year. Its true; VVA is competing for their time, their support, and their membership dues. If we are not successful, another organization is going to recruit them. So if at first you dont succeed, try, try again. Keep them on your prospect list. Most Americans are volunteers; so ask them, What organization or organizations are you a member of now? Ask what offices, positions, or committees they serve on? Ask how much time they spend per week or per month in those activities? Each answer identifies a possible persuasion to convert the prospect into a member. People belong to several organizations simultaneously church, business associations, youth activities and charitable organizations.
Theres no VVA chapter in my area. Some people are concerned about the distance between their home and the nearest chapter meeting location. Its a concern for us as well, especially for members who want to be active. For them well help organize a chapter in their area. For others membership in a viable, growing chapter is a source of pride. Supporting existing chapters through membership is also important.
Stump the recruiter. Very few people know everything about VVA even the most actively involved members. If a member, prospect, or reporter asks a question you dont know, simply say, Thats a good question. Ill find out and get back to you. Then make sure you follow up. VVA is active on many fronts and issues change daily. Youre not expected to be an expert on every issue VVA deals with.
Working Together . Putting Together a Winning Team
1. Be visible and accessible.
2. Be proactive, goal-oriented and focused.
3. Share the plan, let everyone participate, share the limelight.
4. Be flexible, open minded, and willing to learn.
5. Be persistent and take advantage of opportunities.
6. Be professional and meet expectations.
Membership recruitment continues long after the application, DD FORM 214, and dues are submitted. Done properly, your chapter will begin building a lasting relationship with each member. Assign a mentor to sponsor and provide a complete orientation to each new member. Invite new members to become involved, keep them informed, recognize and make them feel welcome. If you can, exceed the new members expectations, dont just meet them. Remember that a satisfied member is a loyal member.
Vietnam-era veterans have the edge over many organizations. We have things in common, such as age, similar desires and physical needs. Corresponding likes and dislikes shared experiences and background, and a familiar geographical location. We can, and should, use each of these to our benefit to recruit new members.
The Chartering Process
Forming a local VVA chapter will generate a level of excitement and interest that should be shared with all veterans who served on active duty in the U.S. military (for other than training purposes) between February 28,1961 May 7,1975 (in-country Vietnam) or between August 5, 1964 May 7, 1975, (in any duty location). As you organize and promote your chapter, use both brainwork and legwork to accomplish your goals. Youll find that being involved in a successful chapter is a rewarding and worthwhile experience.
Leaders who spend their time and resources understanding the cultural differences and similarities among Vietnam-era veterans and who use that knowledge to develop programs and services that will benefit their members and community will become leaders within the veterans community.
What makes VVA different? We prize direct, open, and honest communication. We make every effort to work with other organizations. Yet compared to other veterans groups, we stand out in our knowledge about the issues and in our persistence to see a project through to completion.
Forming a VVA chapter offers members extraordinary opportunities to meet and work with new friends and participate in worthwhile activities while learning and growing.
The procedures and requirements for forming a chapter may vary slightly to comply with state requirements or new policies at national or state council level. The model process requires leaders of the forming chapter to assemble and present the forms to the state council for its review and recommendation. The national membership affairs department will coordinate and perform the final process. The petition forms include:
VVA Charter Petition with signatures from a minimum of 25 individual member petitioners.
Copies of each petitioners DD 214. The designated VVA Chapter Secretary will also maintain a copy of every member and every future members DD Form 214. (When a current VVA member transfers into the new chapter and signs the chapter petition, it is optional to attach a copy of this members DD Form 214. However, ensure their VVA member number is annotated by the members name and signature.
Completed membership applications and/or Member Transfer Forms.
Membership transmittal form along with appropriate dues payment.
Interim officers and board members.
Compliance with the national constitution form.
The completed petition and forms should be sent to the New Mexico State Council president (see inside front cover) for final review and approval prior to being forward to:
Vietnam Veterans of America
Attn: NMSC President
1615 Agua Fria Street
Santa Fe, NM 87505
(Refer questions to your New Mexico VVA State Council at 1-505-603-8639
There are a number of steps in the chartering process:
1. Interested chapter organizers meet with state council representatives to discuss the requirements to form a chapter, and they establish a strategy and timetable to reach their goals.
2. VVA at large members who reside in close proximity to the forming Chapter could provide additional members and can seek contact information from the New Mexico State Council.
3. Local organizational meetings are held to create interest and secure a commitment from a minimum of 25 Vietnam-era veterans to become chartering members.
4. The petition and paperwork is completed and delivered to the state council for review and recommendation.
5. The state council forwards the petition to the national VVA office for processing.
6. The petition is assigned a forming chapter number until the articles of incorporation are approved and returned to the national office by the state government.
7. The application to incorporate is filed by the national office.
8. Upon receipt of the chapter incorporation papers from the secretary of state a permanent charter is prepared and forwarded to the state council president for presentation to the new chapter.
9. The new chapter will request a Federal Tax Number (Employee Identification number or EIN) using Form SS-4 with the Internal Revenue Service.
After spreading the news about your intentions to form a new VVA chapter-through word-of-mouth; post cards to prospective members; public service announcements on the radio, TV and newspaper its time to call the organizational meeting to order. It may take several meetings before you have the commitment, but at each meeting youll need to demonstrate that youre prepared.
Call the meeting to order, introduce yourself and other organizers. Thank everyone for coming and ask him or her to introduce them-selves, and if they want, share their military experience with the group.
Describe VVA. What are the aims and purposes, the organizational makeup, benefits, programs and services?
Hold a question and answer session. Ask for a commitment and complete the petition.
Select a chapter name (optional)
Distribute membership applications and promotional brochures to everyone to recruit new members.
Move quickly while everyone is still excited and motivated.
Officers and their duties
The president is the presiding officer at all meetings. The President oversees all activities of the chapter, including those of other elected and appointed officers, directors, and committees. Together with the treasurer, the president shall be responsible for all monies received by the chapter. It is customary for the president to be the spokesperson, representing VVA at all public functions, i.e., memorial and commemorative services, special activities, award presentations, and community events.
The vice president shall preside at meeting, and represent the chapter president in his or her absence.
The secretary is charged with maintaining all records; handling correspondence, routing information and chairing disciplinary code hearings.
The treasurer is responsible for all financial transactions. This includes maintaining the chapter checking and savings accounts. It is suggested that each account require two signatures to withdraw funds, a duty shared with the president.
While forming you should:
Open a post office box. This will be your permanent chapter address.
Open a bank checking account with member dues collected. Two-signature checks are standard acceptable practice. Ask about free checking services for nonprofit organizations.
Find a public meeting place. Look for a location that will allow current and prospective members an opportunity to get together to conduct business and offer a social outlet as well.
Identify your leaders. Select at least five responsible and dedicated members who will provide leadership and direction as the chapter grows.
File an SS-4 application for Employer Identification Number (EIN) for future filing of the chapters IRS 990 form. Contact IRS office to request a SS-4 form.
VVA membership year runs for one year from date member submits their dues. This will be their anniversary date for future renewals.
Annual and life membership cards are generated and mailed form the national office. Chapter may issue a temporary card at their discretion.
The national office will mail membership renewal notices to members prior to their anniversary date.
Membership rosters are printed and mailed to the chapter official contact. Member rosters should be reviewed and filed. Alert national membership affairs, preferably in writing of any discrepancies. Chapters may request their rosters by e-mail to the national membership affairs. Contact VVA at 1-800-882-1316 to initiate this option. Specify if you would prefer the roster in EXCEL or Word and include the chapters e-mail address.
Items that you may want to assemble to help in chapter management are:
The VVA New Mexico State Council should be contacted regarding and obtaining a list of the Local VVA at-large members and request is subject to the State Councils policy on accessibility to that roster.
List of services and referral contacts at the local, state, and national levels.
National, state, and local VVA literature.
Statistics about the local Vietnam-era veteran population.
To promote growth and participation, we suggest you establish:
A permanent meeting place and time for membership and board meetings.
An agenda and time limit for meetings.
Ideas for community projects and fundraising.
Permanent location for files and historical chapter information.
A good rapport with the local business community and the media.
A schedule of interesting speakers, films, panel discussions, and other activities as part of your monthly chapter membership meeting.
Encourage participation of family members and other prospective members
Procedures to resolve disagreements in-house using the chapter structure.
Contacts with the state council or national office for assistance in areas where the chapter leadership or members have questions.
Each chapter will hold regular meetings on a set date, time, and place. Business is conducted using the constitution and Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised, as guidelines. Annual officer elections are held in April.
Call meeting to order
Pledge of Allegiance
Roll call of officers and directors
Minutes of previous meeting
Application for membership
Swearing in of new officers
Call for bills and communications
Officer and committee reports
Chapter Public Relations
Getting the Word Out
An organized, ongoing public relations campaign is the key to building community awareness and membership. All newsworthy events-meetings, guest speakers, recognition banquets special events, election results, committee appointments, position statements, etc. should be announced.
Well provide the; who, what, when, and where in the first sentence of the first paragraph of the news release, followed by why and how in the second sentence. All facts in the news release should be identified in their order of importance with the most important facts first.
Verify and proofread your news release prior to sending.
Compile and establish a rapport with newspaper, radio, and television contacts, and update the contact list regularly. With the competition for news coverage and public service announcements (PSAs), its important to cultivate rapport with your media contacts and personalities. With a little effort, you will become the resident expert the media calls upon when they need information or a statement.
Local cable access channels provide services to announce upcoming events. These local channels are great outlets because they are always looking for information.
Each news release should:
Be typed on 8 ½ x 11 inch white bond paper.
Identify the name, address, and telephone number of the person to Contact: for additional information in the upper right hand corner.
Distinguish FOR RELEASE: on the date you want the release published in the upper left-hand corner. In most cases, the word, IMMEDIATE is used instead of a release date.
Always double-space the text about a third of the way down on the first page. This allows the editor to create a headline, edit, and note any special instructions.
Make a follow-up telephone call a few days after you have mailed the release to ensure the city editor received it, and tell him/her you would appreciate coverage.
Photographs that support the news release may increase your chance of getting coverage. Pictures of special guests, especially if they are well known, may be included. You may send quality photographs from a previous, related event to support you news release. For television, photographs of your event may pique the interest of a program director that sees news stories in terms of visual impact.
VVA has a Guide to Public Relations handbook available for use to better assist you that covers the above and more.
VVA in Action
Weve made a Difference
Vet Centers, judicial review, the Veterans Initiative, POW/MIA awareness, research and compensation for Agent Orange, PTSD recognition, calling attention to and spearheading programs to help homeless veterans, claims processing, discharge upgrade, women veteran issues and more are issues and programs that VVA members and associates are involved with. VVA is active at the local, state, and national levels, making a difference in the lives of veterans and their families.
The Volunteers Paycheck
Volunteers are the backbone of VVA. Theyre dedicated workers who donate their time and talents. Theyre the character of a chapter. They can be depended upon to hold the offices work within committees and sponsor chapter programs. It is essential that the spotlight and credit be shared with those who helped make it possible. Thank you goes a long way especially when recognition is given in front of his/her peers. Certificates, plaques, announcements in the local newspaper, acknowledgment at banquets, and special pins or awards also serve as a tangible, lasting reminder that a volunteers efforts are appreciated. Recognition is the volunteers paycheck and it is a small price to pay for their work on behalf of VVA.
The chapter treasurer is responsible for opening and maintaining the bank account. There are several excellent money management software programs such as Quicken that are available to load on a PC-based computer system; however, the old fashioned double-entry accounting system works just as well.
The membership dues structure and revenue is as follows:
Incarcerated Veterans Annual dues are established by the applicable Department of Corrections. They are often waived or offered at a reduced amount. Contact your VVA state council or VVA National to obtain the correct amount.
Life membership dues are paid directly to the national organization and are determined by age.
CURRENT AGE AMOUNT
66 and over $150.00
In April/May of each year, the national organization pays a life membership rebate to each chapter equivalent to annual member dues ($9.00) for each life member affiliated with the chapter.
Life member dues are also payable through an installment plan with an initial deposit of just $50.00. The balance, based on age, is payable in monthly payments of $25.00. The national organization issues payment coupons to members who prefer the life member payment plan and used a check (or money order) to pay their deposit. Members who pay their initial deposit using any major credit card will have the balance of their payments automatically deducted from their card each month until their balance is paid. Credit card payments are handled at the national office with rebates back to the chapter and state council.
A chapter cannot function on membership dues alone. Additional resources are needed to run a chapter, to acquire paper, printing, postage, sponsor programs and activities that keep members informed and VVAs name in front of the public. Forming chapters, however, are restricted from all fundraising activities outside of membership recruitment until their articles of incorporation and chapter charter have been issued. The chapter should check out their state regulations pertaining to fundraising prior conducting any revenue generating activities.
Rituals and Holidays Observances
VVA chapter members are active in a variety of ceremonies that honor and recognize American POW/MIAs, veterans, American military personnel, deceased members, and respect for the U.S. flag. For more complete information, refer to VVAs Ritual Book.
All members are encouraged to observe our special patriotic holidays, which include Armed Forces Day (mid-May), Memorial Day (last Monday in May), Flag Day (June 14), Independence Day (July 4th), POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday in September), Gold Star Mothers Day (last Sunday in September), and Veterans Day (November 11th).
Petition: The document signed by a minimum of 25 individual members (current or joining) who willingly unite to request recognition as a chapter chartered by national VVA.
Charter: Document signed by the national VVA president that recognizes a chapter as an affiliate with all the associated privileges, rights, and responsibilities.
A current member: is one who is 1) a life member, 2) a life member on a time payment plan whose payments are not delinquent, 3) a three-year member, or 4) an annual member whose dues have been paid for the coming year. The membership year is from the date the member paid their dues.
A member in good standing: is one who 1) has no disciplinary action being considered or pending against him/her and 2) is not on suspension as result of disciplinary action.
Individual Member: Everyone who served on active duty in the U.S. military for other than training purposes (1) between February 28, 1961 May 7, 1975 (in-country Vietnam) and (2) between August 5, 1964 and May 7, 1975, for Vietnam-era veterans, is eligible for individual membership in VVA. A copy of their DD Form 214 or other proof of military service is required. Members are designated as IND.
An individual life member is fully paid-up supporter of VVA. He/she must provide a copy of their DD Form 214 or proof of service (must show dates of service) to national office along with their life membership application. Death as well as voluntary or disciplinary action will terminate life status. Membership is designated by the letters LMP.
Veterans who are incarcerated and serving a sentence in a federal or state penitentiary, and who would otherwise qualify for individual membership may join VVA. A DD Form 214 is required to verify service. Depending on the state, dues are waived or offered at a reduced rate. Membership is designated by the letters IVI.
Associate. An associate is a person who joins AVVA to support the aims and purposes, to keep informed, and participate in programs and activities. An associate may not run for or hold an elected office in a VVA chapter, yet may serve in appointed positions as outline in the constitution. Associates are designated by the letters ASC. (See Attachment 1)
An associate may pay his or her dues for life and be designated as an ALP. The dues are the same as an individual life member.
Veterans who are incarcerated in a federal or state penitentiary and who do not meet the VVA membership eligibility criteria may join AVVA. A DD Form 214 is required. Veterans in this category are identified as IVA. Depending on the State, dues may vary. Incarcerated individuals, who are not veterans, may join AVVA but will pay the full annual dues amount.
NOTE: Persons who claim to have served in the U.S. military during Vietnam but are unable to provide acceptable documentation may join AVVA as an associate until proof of service is verified.
Proof of Service
A copy of a DD Form 214 (document given to individual upon discharge from military service)
Certificate of Discharge (sent to individual after his/her military obligation has been satisfied)
Other prima fascia documentation of active duty military service in the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam-era.
Obtaining proof of service:
Many veterans registered their DD Form 214 at the courthouse near their home of record after discharge from the military Contact the clerk of court for a copy.
Veterans may apply for proof of service using a STANDARD FORM 180 (SF 180), Request Pertaining to Military Records. Mail the completed application to: National Personnel Records Center, (Military Personnel Records), 9700 Page Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63132-5100.
Form SF 180 may be obtained by contacting the Department of Veterans Affairs, a county veterans service office or VVA.
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