The Veterans of Foreign Wars national commander is asking all Vietnam veterans to search their closets and footlockers for documents that might help Vietnam to determine the fate of an estimated 300,000 missing Vietnamese, and personal effects that might help bring closure and comfort to their families.
“It is important for the Vietnam generation to recognize that the personal connection they have with their memorabilia will not transfer to their descendants, which means such items will either be donated or simply trashed,” said VFW National Commander B.J. Lawrence. “And even though it’s been over a half-century for most Vietnam veterans, now is still a great time to help solidify our government’s relationship with Vietnam, and to help make a difference in the lives of other families half a world away.”
Senior VFW leaders have traveled back to Vietnam every year since 1991 to help U.S. government efforts to account for missing and unaccounted-for servicemen and civilians, a number that currently totals 1,588 Americans (1,246 in Vietnam, 287 in Laos, 48 in Cambodia, and seven in Chinese territorial waters).
Lawrence said it is important for the organization to maintain a “vet-to-vet” relationship with these countries from a non-governmental and non-political perspective. He added it was critical for the VFW and military family organizations – specifically the National League of POW/MIA Families in order to put a human face on a humanitarian mission that transcends politics.
“This call to action is the result of numerous requests for assistance from Vietnamese veterans’ organizations,” he stressed.
Requested items include wallets, family photos, personal letters, detailed battle maps and burial locations – anything that might help Vietnam recover its missing. Weapons are not wanted.
Vietnam veterans can hand deliver their memorabilia to representatives from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency at the VFW National Convention in Orlando, Florida July 20-24. The artifacts will be turned over to the appropriate Vietnamese officials. Vietnam veterans can also share personal battlefield d accounts with the DPAA representatives. Such firsthand information has led U.S. investigation and recovery teams to successfully search in locations not previously recorded by military after-action reports.
Vietnam veterans unable to attend the convention can mail their memorabilia to:
VFW Washington Office
Attention: Public Affairs
200 Maryland Avenue, NE
Washington, DC 20002
Items collected by the VFW Washington Office will be turned over to DPAA.