On Aug. 8, hundreds of officials and members of the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) will convene in Orlando, Fla., for the 2023 VVA Annual Convention. At first glance, the five-day show looks like any national conference. The difference? It’s entirely staged by — and dedicated to — veterans.
Homer Hickam, the best-selling author of the memoir Rocket Boys (the source material for the movie October Sky) will keynote the show. Hickam received the VVA Excellence in the Arts Award in 2011 and will sign copies of his latest book, Don’t Blow Yourself Up!, a memoir of his tour of duty in Vietnam.
VVA will also honor several individuals for their commitment to the nation’s veterans. Harvey Pratt, creator of the Warrior’s Circle of Honor at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., will receive the Excellence in Arts Award.
Jan Scruggs, founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund and chief promoter of the Vietnam Memorial, will receive VVA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. And Laurel Lea Schaefer-Bozoukoff — Miss America 1972 and a cast member of the primetime soap Falcon Crest — will receive the VVA President’s Award for Supporting the Troops in Vietnam for her USO tour and enduring support.
The convention isn’t just speeches, awards and celebrations, though. This is where VVA plans the next steps to #help #veterans of every U.S. conflict. Dedicated committees will discuss proposed resolutions on a laundry list of veterans issues, including Agent Orange, POW/MIAs, PTSD and substance abuse, veterans benefits, health care, homelessness and more.
Committees will meet to discuss the special concerns of women, minority and incarcerated veterans. And the conference will feature a Veterans Mall, where dozens of vendors supporting veterans in living their lives to the fullest will show off their products and services.
As we prepare for the annual event, VVA would like to thank the readers of The Organizing Blog. Your generous #donations to ClothingDonations.org help fund local, regional and national programming for veterans of every era, and we couldn’t host a conference without them.
VVA hopes that you will continue to support our organization in making good on its promise: “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”