• Chuck and his wife Ann

  • President and Charlie heading to the East Room

  • Chuck and his son Mike

  • Chuck and his daughter Jeanna

  • Medal of Honor

  • East Room For The Medal of Honor Ceromony

Vietnam Veterans of America,
Charles S. Kettles Chapter 310
National Chapter of the Year - 1999 & 2007
Newsletter of the Year 2007, 09, 11, & 15
E-Newsletter of the Year 2017
Chapter member LTC. (Retired) Chuck Kettles receved the Medal of Honor - July 2016
LTC Charles S. Kettles (ret) Passed Away On January 21, 2019.  Rest In Peace My Friend, Rest In Peace.......
President’s Message
Jon Luker

Now cometh the season of “New Year’s Resolutions”
First, let me wish you and your families the very best of new years.  I mean, I hope your next year is even better than any year that has gone before it.  I hope your holiday season has been wonderful.

But I am torn by the idea of new year’s resolutions.  When I was young, my parents and my church taught us that integrity was about behaving in secret the same way you would behave when everybody is watching.  They taught us that you can’t act one way on Sunday and a different way throughout the week.  Not that we were supposed to be working our way to heaven, or anything like that.  But I think their point was that we were supposed to be doing the right thing all the time solely because it was the right thing to do.

If I am doing that, what use do I have for a promise to do things differently starting at some point in the future?  Why would I wait?  Is there some magic to starting a new behavior on the first day of a new year?

That might sound good.  Everything has to start sometime and starting one thing at a time when the whole country is starting something new may have an appeal because it means you are not alone in making changes.  But the sad fact seems to be that we don’t do a very good job of keeping new year’s resolutions.  In fact, it has been more than 50 years since I heard the first joke about broken resolutions, and I’ve heard them nearly every year since.  Maybe breaking new year’s resolutions is the real tradition.

Anyway, the new year does seem to be a reasonable time, but not the only reasonable time, to make an assessment of how things are going so far and to look at what we might be able to do better from now (or the new year) on.  The Chapter’s Board of Directors is guiding the Charles S. Kettles Chapter in a way that encourages me.  They are looking out for our best future while taking care of what is right to do today.

I would like to be able to put my finger on the numbers, but let me instead just list the kinds of things we did this year and many years in the past.

Let me start with the things we do to directly benefit veterans.  Our members volunteer many hours at the VA hospital, helping patients get to their appointments and so forth.  We provide cash that is used to buy coffee and as bingo prizes.  We visit patients throughout the year, including on several special occasions.  We give away thousands of dollars’ worth of underwear and pajamas to VA patients.  We bring them entertainment, even showing up in costumes on Halloween.  Many of our members have developed one on one relationships with patients, helping them get connected to veteran services officers and other resources they need for when they get out of the hospital.

Every year, we spend hundreds of dollars on postage sending care packages to servicemembers who are in uniform downrange.  Whether they are actively involved in the war on terror or are keeping the peace around the world, they get the message that they are not alone and are not making their sacrifices for an ungrateful nation.

We conduct several public awareness operations during the year that provide veterans with a chance to meet and associate with other veterans.  As you know, we all tended to stay alone when we were transitioning to civilian life.  Our events remind veterans that they are not anywhere near as alone as they might feel.  These efforts are often led by our merchandizing committee, but also include breakfasts in the community, volunteer work with other veteran organizations and so forth.  As I stated last month: If you find a congregation of veterans doing something good in Washtenaw County, most likely you will see many members of our Chapter doing the work, often in a leadership role.

We also support veterans indirectly.  We have a planned giving program through which we financially support other local organizations such as Warriors and Caregivers United, who are themselves meeting one or another unique need of the veteran.  As we watch and learn from these organizations, we’ve learned also of the need to provide support for the civilians who are dedicated to one veteran or another.  People we call “caregivers.”  As a result, our giving program has expanded to include such things contributing toward getting a Fisher House placed on the Ann Arbor VA campus.

I could go on.  But you get the point.  We actually have been doing the work in private that we say in public that we will do.  That’s one of the things I like most about this Chapter.

Our Chapter’s motto is: “Never again, shall a vet coming home from battle be made to feel alone and unappreciated.”  Certainly, we have not allowed a vet we knew about to stay feeling that way on our watch.

But as I look toward next year, I noticed the words, “Never again.”  They are found in the National VVA motto as well: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”  Never is a long time, for sure.  It clearly is a time that will last longer than any of us will live.  So, that makes me wonder – what are we doing TODAY – to find and train our replacements?  What are we doing today to help Gulf War and current servicemembers understand their responsibilities for the veterans who will follow them into and out of battle and into civilian life?

So, if we were to make a new year’s resolution, I would hope that it would be to develop a plan to find, recruit and train our replacements so that the next generation of veterans does not abandon those who follow and instead supports those who follow so that they do not feel alone or unappreciated.

I do not advocate waiting until next year.  As someone much wiser than I asked me one time, “when is the best time to plant an Oak tree?”  I was wrong.  The answer was “60 years ago.”  “When is the next best time?” he asked.  Today.

De Oppresso Liber

(By the way, that is the motto of the US Army Special Forces.  For those who may not know, Special Forces Soldiers are the ones who wear the Green Beret.  What that motto means to us is, “to free the oppressed.”)

Jon Luke