VIETNAM VETERANS of AMERICA CHAPTER 79
The early players in the formation of chapter 79 were Ned Foote, and Jim Brown.
Chapters 79 and 66 ( Saratoga ) were spawned from Chapter 8 in Albany.Ned suggested to Jim that V.V.A. start a Chapter in Glens Falls and name it the Adirondack Chapter.Robin Temple contacted Jim Brown after hearing a public service announcement about the chapter on a radio station, WWSC. The station was owned and operated by Christopher Lynch who was a Vietnam Vet himself. A steering committee was formed and the members were Ned, Jim, and Robin. A "speak up " program was aired on WWSC and the potential chapter was discussed. The initial chapter formation meeting was held at "Bud's Day and Night " club in the Queensbury Plaza, in March of 1982. Bud Winchell, owner of the club, was also a Vietnam Vet.
V.V.A. President Ned Foote
Founding member and current
Chapter 79 secretary, Jim Brown
Founding member and Chapter 79 member,
Robin Temple ( far left )
On or about April of 1983, a board of directors was formed and officers were named. Jim Brown, President...Ned Foote, Vice President.....and Robin Temple, Secretary and Treasurer. Board members were Rick Phillo, Gary Hammer, Charlie Guatta, Harry Treadway ( Ticonderoga ), Rocco Persutti, and Ed Petrazullo.
The first chapter meeting was held at The Knights of Columbus Hall on RT.9 in Queensbury and approximately 80 vets attented. Later that year Chapter 79 recieved charter approval from V.V.A 's national office.
Chapter 79 held it's first Memorial Service on Memorial Day of 1983. The service was held at Crandall Park in Glens Falls, N.Y. A list of those killed in Vietnam from our area was prepared. Each name was read and a family member or chapter member gently dropped a Rose for each Man in the Pond. Vivid memories remain of this service from those of us that were there.
June 14th 1984 the chapter recieved our "Articles of Incorporation". Shortly after this the chapter started having information booths at the mall and at social gatherings. We spread the word about the chapter and issues affecting Vietnam Vets and their families. Such as P.T.S.D., Agent Orange, V.A.compensation,employment,V.A.Hospital,etc.
During the early years Chapter 79 sought equity with the traditional veteran's organizations. For example, the members of Chapter 79 were invited , by the "Hats"
( traditional veterans organizations ) to march in the Memorial Day parade in Glens Falls, BEHIND the Horses. This injustice actually became a cornerstone of our existence and resulted in a large boost in our membership.
"The Wall" ( Vietnam Veterans Memorial ) in Washington D.C. was dedicated in 1982. Shortly after this, Ned Foote spearheaded the effort to build a Memorial locally to honor the 55 Men from our area that died in Vietnam.Memorial Committee members were: Ned Foote, Chairman....JamesBrown, Daniel Imrie, Brian Burkhardt, Brian Lee, Brian Cook, Michael Leombruno,James Giles. Peter Mastrangelo, Charles, Guatta, Richard Tarantino, and Robin Temple. There was amazing community support for the Memorial. In just four months the committee raised approximately $45,000 dollars.
Donations poured in from some 400 corporate and privatwe donors. The Memorial was dedicated on November 2, 1985. Gary B. Beikirch, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient was the guest speaker. Several Gold Star Mothers were in attendance.
FOR MORE ON THE STORY OF THE BUILDING OF THE MONUMENT,
CLICK ON THE LINK ON OUR MAIN PAGE
On the 20th anniversary of the Memorial there was a re-dedication ceremony.
Chapter 79 has a History of reaching out to the community in various ways.
- For many years members of the chapter spoke about the Vietnam
experience in area schools. Secondary as well as college level.
- We held an educational seminar at the Crandall Library in downtown Glens Falls.
- We had an exibit at the Chapman Museum.
- Chapter 79 members were often quoted in the Post Star newspaper on issues such as P.T.S.D., Agent Orange, Prisoners of War, Amerasian children, etc.
- The chapter fought for property tax exemptions in many communities in Warren, Washington, Saratoga, and Essex counties.
- The chapter memners lobbied Congress in support of making the Secretary of Veterans Affairs a cabinet level position. This finally passed and became law. This led to the formation on the Court of Veterans Appeals. Prior to the court, a veteran could not appeal V.A. denials.
- We were guest speakers on many radio programs, as well as programs aired on TV 8.
- The chapter supported the Special Olympics for many seasons. As well as camp "Hole in the Woods".
- Circa 1996 the chapter recieved a $5,000 Member item Grant from N.Y.S.Senator Ronald Stafford which was used to set up our "wood working shop".
The chapter made picnic tables for many years and sold them as an ongoing fundraiser.
- Menber Dan Imrie allowed us to use his auto shop for Chapter meetings and the wood working shop for many years.
- We built and sponsered a car in the local Soap Box Derby.
- Tyhe chapter continues to donate to the Cornerstone Soup Kitchen in the name of Father Hayes. For many years he was the priest at our annual Memorial Ceremony.
- We donated to needy families at Christmastime.
- The chapter assisted in the formation of the Adirondack Vets House and continues to make donations there.
- Chapter 79 purchased and placed a Memorial Stone Plaque at the National V.A. Cemetary in Saratoga Springs. The dedication wason April 30th 2009. April 30th was the day Saigon fell.
The memorial @ the Nat'l.
Cemetary in Saratoga.....
(for more pics click on
the "chapter pics" button
on the main page)
- We have worked with Big Brothers & Big Sisters over the years.
- The chapter recieved a grant for P.T.S.D./Family counseling sessionsunder the direction of Charles Bearce, chapter member and licensed therapist. The program was a huge success. Mr. Bearce continues to see veterans under the auspices of the Albany Vet Center.
Chapter 79 fought hard for the implementation of the Vet Center program and to keep them open over the years.
- Chapter 79 members participate yearly on lobbying day at the State capitol in Albany.
- Each summer Chapter 79 sponsors a boat ride on Lake George where great fellowship is always experienced on the King of the American Lakes. Chapter 79 member and webmaster Vinnie Spero plays with his band on the cruise every year.
- Over the years chapter members have been delegates at State and National conventions and meetings.
- We sponsored the play "Medal of Honor Rag" which was performed at The Adirondack Community College.
- Chapter 79 has supported the "Support our four legged Troops" program for the K9 Corps at the joint base in Bald. Iraq for the ESFG/K9 Corps.
- We held the "Open a Door seminar that was held at the Harrisena Church in Queensbury. Chapter members and their families examined healing through art,music, and creative endeavors.
Current Chapter 79 President
John Svandrlik ( L ) ,
Don Amorosi, and Chapter
Treasurer Dan Imrie with the
Soap Box Derby car made by
- Chapter 79 sponsored the "Moving Wall" which was present for a week on the campus of A.C.C. Forums on veterans issues were held during the week and art was displayed in the gallery.
- Chapter 79 hosted an information gathering symposium for the N.Y. State Temporary Commission on the readjustment of Vietnam Veterans.
- For many years the chapter held an annual picnic for members and their friends and families.
- The chapter participated for several years at the annual Adirondack Hot Air Balloon Festival. We had information booths and food booths. We sponsored the POW/MIA balloon.
- We supported the Make a Wish program with financial donations.
- For many years chapter members made picnic tables and sold them at a very reasonable price as a fund raiser.
- We have participated in various garage sales over the years. Having information and food booths.
- For ten years running the chapter had an annual Christmas party.
- For several years now the chapter sponsors a mid winter "Cabin Fever" dinner.
- We have held social events over the years with other chapters.
- We have supplied color guards many times over the years in parades, and various other events. For example: the POW ceremony on Prospect Mountain.
- For the past two years the chapter has sponsored a car show at the V.A.Medical Centers. Both events were very successful at fund raising for the V.A. Hospitals voluntary services.
Chapter 79 President John
Svandrlik ( L ) with chapter member
Jerry Wheeler ( 3rd from left )
presenting awards at the VA car
( more pics available on our "pics"
- For several years the chapter had an office in the Colvin Bldg. in Glens Falls.
Several nights a week a member manned the phones and made themselves available for walk-ins.
- Chapter 79, for many years, was involved with the incarcerated veterans programs in 3 area prisons.
- The chapter held a seminar on Dioxins 9 Agent Orange ) related to the Hudson Falls Burn Plant. Doctor Peter Khan from Rutgers University was a key note speaker.
- Chapter 79 has been involved with the veterans "Stand Down" in the Albany area for several years.
- The chapter has been and continues to be involved with the Adirondack Vets House. A transition program for homeless vets.
- We have, over the years, worked closely with the Saratoga County Rural Preservation Council, in their homeless vets program.
Many members of Chapter 79 have, over the years, taken on leadership positions. Some of them are as follows:
- Ned Foote has been a delegate at every National V.V.A Convention to date.
He was the former Treasurer of the V.V.A, N.Y.S. Council. For the past several years he has been the State Council President. He also currently serves on the N.Y.S. Veterans Commission. Ned was also involved with the formation of the Adirondack Vets House.
- Tom Chard, Dick Champagne, and Harry Prutsman were all DVOP's with the N.Y.S.Department of Labor. They secured jobs for countless numbers of veterans.
- Pete Mastrangelo and Charles Bearce served or are serving on the board of directors of the Adirondack Vets House.
- Robin Temple held various titles over the years with the N.Y.S.Council, V.V.A
for ten years he was the Director of the Washington County Veterans Agency. He then went on to become Deputy Director of the N.Y.S. Division of Veterans Affairs. From 1979 - 1981 he was the Region II Director of Vietnam Veterans of America and chaired the Veterans Affairs Committee. He currently is the Secretary of the Adirondack Vets House.
- Sam Hall is currently the Director of the Washington County Veterans Service Agency and Eastern Director of the N.Y.S. Council , V.V.A.
- Tom Harris runs the "One Stop Program" for Saratoga County Employment and Training. He has secured employment for many, many veterans over the years. Tom is also a chapter delegate to the N.Y.S. Council where he advises Council members on employment issues.
- Chapter member Vinnie Spero and his Son set up the chapters website in October of 2009 and Vinnie maintains and updates the site. vva79.org
- Chapter 79 has donated to Uncle Shawn's rugs, which gives blankets to needy vets
- Chapter 79 has donated to the open door mission in Vermont.
- Chapter 79 has donated money for a blanket warmer for the V.A. Hospital in Albany
CHAPTER 79 PRESIDENTS FOLLOW:
Post card / Letter from the K9 unit in Iraq thanking Chapter 79 for our donation
The cornerstone of Chapter 79 follows: "NEVER AGAIN WILL ONE VETERAN'S ORGANIZATION ABANDON ANOTHER".