Vietnam Veterans Organization Seeks Local Members

NMDVS News:

SANTA FE—Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) Northern New Mexico Chapter 996 is looking for Vietnam War veterans to join the chapter and meet fellow Vietnam War veterans, learn about available VA and state veterans’ benefits, and organize into a stronger community service unit.

Founded in 1978, the VVA is the only national Vietnam veterans’ organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. VVA is organized as a not-for-profit corporation and is tax-exempt under Section 501(c) (19) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

VVA Northern New Mexico Chapter 996 was officially chartered by the national organization in 2007 when a group of Santa Fe Vietnam veterans noticed there was a sizeable population of Vietnam veterans living in the northern part of the state. The founding members realized the need to form a formal organization which could bring Vietnam veterans together for social, community service or legislative purposes.

VVA Chapter 996 President Henry Urioste, who this year is also the VVA State President, said the idea of forming a Vietnam Veterans organization came to him and some high school friends who also served in Vietnam when, after years of meeting informally and socially upon returning from the war, they realized there were others just like them right here in their own backyard.

“For years, everywhere we went in northern New Mexico, it seems like we’d always run into a fellow Vietnam Vet,” said Urioste, an Army veteran who saw combat action in Vietnam. “I mean, everywhere we went! We’d introduce ourselves, shake their hands, and form an instant bond. Eventually we decided we needed to form an organization—to bring all of us together…make new friends…maybe help out those who needed help.”

Chapter 996 is one of seven VVA chapters in New Mexico. It is one of the more active and visible community organizations in northern New Mexico. The chapter organizes food and clothing drives—and is an active partner with the annual “Stand Down” for homeless veterans in Santa Fe.

VVA Chapter 996 members regularly seek out fellow Vietnam veterans who may need help filing for VA or state veterans’ benefits. The chapter can help direct a veteran who may be suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or other post-combat issues which may still be affecting Vietnam veterans. The chapter can also refer veterans needing housing or financial assistance, employment assistance or any other help a veteran or his/her family may need.

VVA Chapter 996’s Color Guard is one of the most popular Color Guard units in the state. It is regularly asked to”Post the Colors” at veterans or community events throughout northern New Mexico and the Albuquerque metro area.

“We are a very active, community-minded organization,” said VVA Chapter 996 founding member Eddie Romero, who also saw combat action in Vietnam. “We like to socialize, but we can help those Vietnam vets who may need help. If you don’t do it for yourself—do it for your family. When we help the veteran, we’re also helping the family, too.”

For information and to become a member of Vietnam Veterans of America/Northern New Mexico Chapter 996, contact Eddie Romero at 505.699.5924, ejr_1949@yahoo.com or Ron Barela at 505.470.2755, ronbarela423@qmail.com.

Source: New Mexico Department of Veterans Services (NMDVS)

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