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Korean War Veterans Association

Chartered by Congress June 30, 2008
*Korean War and Korea Service Veterans...
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Update... Official Message Board



Tom Stevens

Update is the official message board of Tom Stevens, National President of the Korean War Veterans Association. Messages that appear here are posted to keep the membership of the KWVA informed about the latest news concerning the organization and the president's itinerary. These messages are dated and posted from top to bottom, the most recent messages at the top.

         


President's Messages...

 

November 1, 2016

Although you will be reading this long after Labor Day, I am writing it on Saturday, Sept. 3. Art Sharp (our editor) tells me that I’m way ahead of the deadline, but that is just the way I like to operate.

My office window is open. The first hint of fall is in the air. What a great time to be alive. However, there are things that are happening right here in the USA that are troubling. We fought in Korea all those many years ago for freedom in South Korea and its citizens’ right to determine their own form of government. They chose democracy and freedom, rebuking Communism. A wise choice indeed.

Included with freedom is the right to free speech—within reasonable limits, i.e., it is unlawful to holler “fire” in a crowded theatre. There are many examples of situations and circumstances within our great country that seem to be not in keeping with our American ideals that dishonor the flag, or publicly show disrespect while the national anthem is being played. Such actions are the height of antithesis toward patriotism.

I venture that the majority of veterans in the USA who signed a blank check when being inducted into military service to preserve freedom, theirs and others—including the willingness to sacrifice their lives to serve their country—find such disrespectful actions reprehensible. I had that on my chest and just needed to say it.

I will make a conscious effort to steer away from politics in general, but disrespect or desecration of the American flag bother me immensely, and I suspect that they bother many of you. There are many right ways to go about correcting what we perceive to be wrongs. Being disrespectful toward our cherished American symbols isn’t one of them. God Bless America!

Tim Whitmore, one of our KWVA National Board members, today sent me via email an article from the Hampton, Virginia Daily Press about a brief Labor Day commemoration that was held at Hampton City Hall. Whitmore said, “My thought was that the people who fought this war were called from their labors, so it’s not a far reach that we celebrate what they did, both in uniform and industry, for that war.”

He characterized the war effort as a testament to the resilience of the American people. In my own case, I was milking cows at the time I enlisted. After 3 years, 9 mos. in the USAF, guess what? I came back to milking cows, which I detested. So I decided to get an education by working part time and making use of the GI Bill. No more cows ever again, thank you very much!

On July 27th, at the Korean War Memorial in Washington DC, I had the honor of participating in an impressive ceremony commemorating the 63rd anniversary of the signing of the Armistice, officially bringing hostilities to an end in Korea. Nevertheless, sporadic instances of North Korean provocations still occur, and have since the signing of the Armistice.

To start the ceremony, our national chaplain, Jack Keep, opened with a meaningful prayer. The off-stage announcer’s role was ably fulfilled by our Executive Director, Mr. Jim Fisher. The guest speaker was the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, His Excellency, Ambassador Ahn Ho-Young. I followed the Ambassador with a few brief remarks.

Ambassador Ahn, Gay Vietski, the Superintendent of the National Park Service’s National Mall and Memorial Parks, and I, individually placed wreaths at the Korean War Veterans Memorial. Our National KWVA Secretary, Lew Ewing, announced the winners of the American Veterans of Korea Foundation scholarships.

Lew and his committee had taken several days to narrow over 80 applicants down to the 10 winners. Two of the recipients were there in person to receive their $2,000 scholarships: Janell Couperthwaite and Scott Kiewe. (The article with pictures was on page 52 of the July-August edition of The Graybeards.)

The day prior, July 26th, the KWVA Board of Directors held its first meeting of the year. Several important decisions were made during that meeting. I will not enumerate them here, but I would urge each of you to read and study those decisions that appear in the minutes starting on p. 10 in this edition.

I thank all the Board members and officers and Executive Director Jim Fisher for the dedication everyone demonstrated in discussing and arriving at rational decisions that impact the future of KWVA.

I haven’t mentioned recruiting, but rest assured it is always on my mind, and I hope yours. In that context, a list of eighteen ideas for recruiting was submitted recently by Board member Al McCarthy. All eighteen have been referred to our Membership Chairman, David Clark, who, with his committee, is currently reviewing and taking steps to implement as many as are determined to be feasible.

A number of those suggestions have application primarily at the chapter level. You will be hearing more about them in the future. One I will mention here is to put an application for KWVA membership in the hands of everyone (not already a member) who participates in an Honor Flight. Steps have already been taken to put that idea into action.

Tom Stevens, President
Korean War Veterans Association, Inc. (KWVA/US)


 

August 23, 2016

I’m writing my first “President’s Message.” The filing deadline for officers and directors of KWVA, Dec. 15, 2015 passed and it turned out that I was the sole candidate for National KWVA President. I wish there had been other candidates. Since there weren’t, I’ve known since that date that I would be the incoming President.

The one huge advantage that gave me was that I could from that date forward work hand in hand with our outgoing President, the very capable Larry Kinard. I can only hope to live up to the standards that have been set by Larry. He has been most generous and patient in explaining the many behind-the-scene administrative details involved in running the KWVA.

We made an onsite visit to Charleston, IL. Jim Doppelhammer, Sheila Fritts, and Alex Switzer very competently handle a variety of responsibilities that are vital to the overall operation, including administration of our KWVA website. One change that has already been implemented (as of 4/1/2016), which was prompted by Treasurer Tom Gregg, was to decentralize some of the treasurer’s work load by shifting the writing of checks to Doug Sager, Sager Financial Services, located in Charleston.

As always, a major concern to the future of KWVA is the recruitment of Korean War and Korean Defense veterans. One of our incoming Board members, Colonel (Ret) David Clark, former Chairman of the Dept. of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, will now be our chairman of the Membership Committee. David has all the necessary qualifications to do an outstanding job. The age of KWVs makes bringing in younger members vital to the future of KWVA.

Along with declining membership comes declining income. Unfortunately, expenses do not decline at the same rate as income. Our 2017 budget as it stands today has expenses exceeding income by some $29,000.

Fund raising is an important source of income. The goal this year from the sale of tickets is $70,000. Please consider purchasing tickets as individuals and chapters.

In the past we’ve received significant contributions from our generous friends in Korea and from Korean-American citizens who continue to express their appreciation for our sacrifices during the Korean War. To add to our financial woes, we are to be the host VSO for the 2017 Veterans Day event in Washington, D.C. It will be an honor and give our organization some much needed recognition.

To prepare for taking on that role, Jim Fisher, Executive Director, and Tim Whitmore, Ceremonies Chairman, have been attending meetings of the 2016 host VSO, The Polish American Veterans organization, to get some understanding of the planning and costs involved.

Another new Board member, Paul Cunningham, has agreed to take on the Special Committee Chairmanship of the 2017 Veteran’s Day Committee. Paul is eminently qualified to carry out this responsibility to a successful conclusion on November 11th, 2017.

Treasurer Tom Gregg has established a separate banking account specifically for this event. Any contributions received to assist in financing this event, if identified as such in the check memo section, will be deposited in this separate account. It is still deductible as a contribution to a 501(c)19. We’re looking at an expense of $40,000 to $50,000.

Now that you’ve read about some of my immediate concerns and where my—and hopefully your—energies will be directed, I’ll share with you a few enjoyable experiences from a recent trip to Korea.

On June 17th, Barbara and I departed Kansas City for Dallas, TX, where we joined others, including Larry and Bettye Kinard, for an international flight to Inchon Airport, Korea. We were guests of the Sae Eden Presbyterian Church in Seoul. (In case you are wondering, the entire trip to Korea was hosted, i.e. paid for, by the Sae Eden Church.)

Participants were Korean War veterans and family members of KIAs and MIAs from the Korean War. Each day was planned with activities from 8 a.m. until early evening. Ceremonies and demonstrations were conducted at the National Cemetery and at various ROK military venues. Korean War veterans were always the honored guests.

We visited the Joint Security Area at the DMZ and looked into North Korea territory. That was a haunting experience. We visited the Eighth Army Headquarters and had lunch in the dining hall with GIs, an experience neither of us will soon forget. We also attended several banquets at which our entire group were honored guests and treated as royalty.

The week was capped off with a beautiful concert at the Korean Broadcasting Theatre which, as with everything else that week, was for the sole purpose of honoring Korea War veterans and families of KIAs and MIAs.

Upon returning to the U.S., we flew into Washington, D.C. to attend a ceremony commemorating 66 years since the invasion. Another ceremony held on the following day commemorated KATUSAs killed in the Korean War. The name of each KATUSA was read. I was honored to read KATUSA names for fifteen minutes after the opening ceremony, in which wreaths were placed at the Memorial in their honor.

I hope in this first of many to come President’s Messages I haven’t sounded too pessimistic. The concerns I’ve pointed out should be viewed as challenges to each member of the KWVA. I don’t think it is any secret that our membership losses due mainly to death are exceeding our intake of new members. This one fact and attempts to overcome it with new members are the biggest challenges we face. Our future depends on building our membership.

Tom Stevens, President
Korean War Veterans Association, Inc. (KWVA/US)


 
 



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