Vietnam Veterans of America

Michigan State Council





October 20, 2019

General Membership Meeting


Call to Order:  The meeting was called to order by Vice President Ken Rogge in Clinton Twp., MI at 10:00 AM. 

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited, a moment of silence for the POW-MIAs and those serving in harm’s way

with the opening prayer by Tom Meinhardt.


Approval of the Agenda:  Motion by 175/9 to accept the agenda as printed, motion passed.

Approval of the minutes:  Motion by 9/109 to approve the minutes of the meeting dated

                                              August 18, 2019, motion passed.


Roll Call of Officers:

President John Riling - Excused

Vice-President Ken Rogge – Present                         Secretary Gary Estermyer - Present

2nd Vice President Tom Meinhardt – Present             Treasurer Floyd Carmichael – Present


Roll Call of Chapters: 9 Jack Devine P, 18 A, 31 William Collins A, 73 Bob Elliot A, 

109 John Gibbs P, 110 Ralph Sharp A, 133 Richard Lash A, 142 Michael Goode P,

154 Mike Gardner P, 175 Joe Mishler P, 180 Thomas Brown E, 237 Jerry Cummings A,

259 Mike Goodpaster P, 264 Ronald Schrieber A, 267 Phil Smith P, 274 Duke Mayo A, 

284 Louis LaParl A, 287 David Huffman A, 310 Jon Luker P, 313 Floyd Carmichael P,

345 Ray Phillips A, 380 Vic Romback A, 387 A, 390 Charlie Marton A, 494 R Essenmacher A,

528 Gary Estermyer P, 571 Dennis Peterson A, 583 Wayne Trapp A, 730 S,

882 Terry Frank A, 1047 Joe Prato A and 1083 Tom Meinhardt P.


Present – 11       Absent – 19       Excused – 1       Suspended – 1               A quorum is present.


President’s & 1st Vice President’s Report: Ken Rogge welcomed everyone and thanked Chapter 154 for hosting this meeting and providing coffee, donuts and lunch at their vet center.

Ken announced that John is home recovering from knee replacement surgery and so far so good.

Ken had attended the National BOD & CSCP meeting in Silver Spring, MD last week with John and he reported he kept busy while John was meeting with Felicia (Service/Benefit Program).

     Ken suggested the delegates check the VVA online chapter locator link to confirm that names and numbers are correct.  VVA National has implemented a new chain of command that will hopefully improve the flow of business/communication that must be conducted.  Deputy Secretary of Veteran Affairs James Byrne spoke to the attendees.  Mr. Byrne said he and Secretary Wilkie  are against mass privatization.  It is agreed the VA health system could stand improvement in many areas but he also noted that according to the American Medical Association the VA system is superior to private facilities in many ways.  Ken learned that the 2023 VVA National Convention will be held in Orlando, FL. 

     The Blue Water Navy Bill is to be activated on January 1, 2020.  The VA has released a ship list of 180 ships they have confirmed were within the 12 nautical miles off the Vietnam coast.  VVA suggests all sailors who suffer from A.O. presumptive diseases contact their service officer and either file or appeal a previously denied claim.  The VA is in the process of notifying those Navy personnel but being proactive is encouraged. 

     The VVA Constitution Committee has voted to allow electronic meetings, details to follow.  It was also explained that if a chapter/state council vice president were to “move up” they could not continue holding any additional office while serving as president.         

    We are looking for a chapter to host the 2020 MSC annual meeting.  The preferred meeting dates would be the 1st, 3rd or 5th weekend in May 2020.  The deadline for bids was today and Chapters 9 and 310 declined.  The only other chapter that expressed any interest was Marquette Chapter 380.  380 was not present at this meeting so contact will be made with them to confirm or reject their intent. 

     Ken reported that the MSC website; continues to be a work in progress and chapter input is always requested.  The Vietnam Veterans of Michigan Foundation, Inc. (VVMFI) is also open for business with small, sporadic donations coming in.            


2nd Vice-President’s report:  Tom Meinhardt reported he has been appointed to temporarily take over the Ambassador duties from Tim Driscoll.       


Secretary's Report:  Gary Estermyer reported he still needs 18 – 345 – 494 chapter election reports. 

The chapter contact list has been updated and Gary would like the delegates to verify their chapter meeting locations/dates and times.          


Treasurer's Report:  Floyd Carmichael passed out copies and reviewed the general account.  Regular transfers are made to the service office account for salaries and expenses while the grant monies and charitable income funds generally remain level.  Additional revenue sources are desired and are being considered.    

     Five chapters still have not turned in their finance report to Floyd.  For those that make online purchases please consider Smile.Amazon which benefits our foundation, VVMFI.     



            There will be Veteran’s Day weekend ceremonies throughout the state to include;

            11/07/19 – Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran Dinner, Marysville Chapter 1083 to host at the

                               VFW post in Port Huron, starts at 4:00 PM

            Fort Custer and Great Lakes National Cemetery, Detroit and Ann Arbor VAMC and the           

            Detroit Veteran’s Day parade (11/10/19). 

11/14/19 – Dearborn DoubleTree – Thanksgiving Brunch for veterans, 11 AM – 2 PM

                                                          RSVP to Mimi by 11/10/19 @ 313-982-3983 

Joe Mishler, Chapter 175 announced that an A.O. monument will be dedicated this summer in Flint at Blue Bell Beach. 

John Gibbs, Chapter 109 also announced they have an A.O. dedication planned. 

12/14/19 is Wreaths Across America day.

Jack Devine, Chapter 9 announced they are supporting a scholarship program in Detroit

Jon Luker, Chapter 310 is working with Ypsilanti Twp. on a suicide prevention program.

06/06-07/20 – Selfridge ANG Base airshow will honor Vietnam Veterans

Committee Reports:

Constitution/Bylaws:  Gary Estermyer reported that the 2019 revised National constitution is now available online at; Start at Resources > Org. Docs & Policies > Constitution 


Elections Committee:  Phil Smith will begin the nomination process at the next meeting, Dec. 8th.


Fundraising:  Ken briefly discussed a Red Wing ticket fundraiser being considered that would benefit our foundation (VVMFI), details to follow.   


Government Affairs:  Jack Devine reported on a veteran mortgage relief bill hearing and six other veteran related legislative actions.  Funding for any of these bills remains unknown as the state budget has still not been finalized yet.  


Membership: Ken Rogge reported that the recent VVA membership total is now at 85,469 with

11,728 in Region 5 and 4,798 in Michigan.  Michigan continues to have 3 chapters in the top 25 of membership totals; 154 (802-4th), 267 (315-22nd )  & 528 (314-23rd ).  The Membership Committee also plans to expand their chapter listing to the top 30.    


Minority Affairs:  Chris Franklin continues to meet with minority veterans and advocate for smoking cessation programs and raise the legal age to 21 to purchase tobacco.  He is also very active in Macomb County spreading the word of health risks caused by smoking.  Chris is active with the (American Indian Veterans of Michigan) ( and has published a U.S. Military Veteran Commercial Tobacco Use brochure.  The statistics and graphs included in the brochure will surely convince some to quit smoking. Chris plans to update this brochure in the near future. 


National Cemetery:  Tom Meinhardt reported a recent GLNC golf outing raised over $16,000. GLNC continues to be rated the 8th busiest national cemetery. There were 546 burials in July, over 3,500 YTD and

42,696 since GLNC opened.  

VA Form 40-10007 is used to establish eligibility for burial in a VA national cemetery.     

Floyd Carmichael reported that Ft. Custer National Cemetery is prepping an area to be sodded. 

If cremation is chosen the cemetery has a cremains scatter area.  The family may opt for a marker placed in the memorial area.  The marker would read ‘In Memory Of …’ to indicate no body or cremains are interred. 

Ft. Custer has held over 1,400 burials this FY and over 36,000 since opening. 


Outreach Coordinator: Joe Mishler opened discussion about reaching out to the younger veterans in area colleges.  He and John have made contact with veteran groups at Oakland U. and U. of M.  Joe encourages all delegates to collect names of the younger veterans they come in contact with. We should strive to set up meet and greet sessions with them so they can get to know about VVA and we can get to know them.  We should try to attend some of their events and invite them to attend ours. 


POW-MIA:  1,587 still remain missing or unaccounted for (BNR) from the Vietnam War; of which 48 are from Michigan.  Marty Eddy sends out very important POW-MIA messages frequently.   


Public Affairs:  Ken Rogge encouraged the delegates to utilize their local radio/cable/TV stations to publicize their chapter events.  He also would like to get more chapter updates and information for the MSC website. 

Veteran’s Benefits/Service Program:    

John and Gary have been attending VA, Coalition & MVAA contract meetings.   

Recoveries:   $1,346,221 (August)      -      $1,026,667 (September)      -      $9,670,663 - YTD

The service office moved to our final, renovated, permanent space (Room 1226) on Sept. 23rd

Mimi has been re-hired on a P.T. basis to scan files.    


Veteran’s Incarcerated and in the Justice System:  Tom Meinhardt is waiting for approval from the activity directors of Freeland, St. Louis and Carson City facilities to visit.   


MI AVVA Vice President: Penny Meinhardt announced they will have to change their bylaws to allow their elections in May instead of June this year.  They will again conduct a gift card fundraiser at the Dec. 8th meeting in Howell.  Donations of $10.00 - $25.00 gift cards are requested from the delegates. 


Upcoming meetings for VVA & AVVA:


Motion 142/9 to hold the December 8th meeting @ Chapter 110 (American Legion hall in Howell)           Motion passed.


  November 28, 2019  -  Happy Thanksgiving

  December 5, 2019 – 10 AM – BOD meeting @ Plymouth VFW

  December 8, 2019 – 10 AM – General membership/Christmas luncheon @ Howell A.L.

  January 16-18, 2020 – National BOD/CSCP meetings, Silver Spring, MD

  March 2020 – BOD & General membership meetings @ TBD

  May 2020 – BOD & Annual/Election meetings @ TBD

  July 14-18, 2020 – Leadership Conference @ Crowne Plaza Hotel, Dayton, OH 

  July 2021 – VVA National Convention, Greensboro, NC – details TBA

  July 2022 – VVA Leadership Conference, Greensville, SC – details TBA

  July 2023 – VVA National Convention, Orlando, FL – details TBA



Meeting adjourned at 11:52 PM


Closing Prayer was said by Tom Meinhardt


Minutes taken and transcribed by:  Gary Estermyer


Lodging in the Howell area:


Holiday Inn Express                                       Baymont Inn

1397 N. Burkhart Road                                  4120 Lambert Drive

Howell, MI 48855                                          Howell, MI  48855

(517) 548-0100                                               (517) 547 – 0712

South of Tanger Outlet mall                           north of Tanger Outlet mall




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