Forward Observer — ‘Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012’ Enacted!


LVMAC Poster Art 2005Surprisingly, nothing has been mentioned in the local media on the recent passage of H.R. 1627 (now known as Public Law 112-154), Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act of 2012, despite its importance to the veterans community. It is an omnibus bill affecting many; and it finally brings some, though not total, resolution to the Camp Lejeune water contamination situation which has been previously written about.

Several veterans organizations withheld their support because the Lejeune provision set a dangerous precedent in their opinion. In their minds, the bill unfairly levies requirements on the VA to take care of an essentially Department of Defense (DoD) or TRICARE problem.  While we might agree with them from one perspective, the larger issue is the government taking responsibility to care for those in need of it, no matter whence it comes. We are more concerned about the fact that no one currently knows when the VA will implement the Lejeune actions required, since no deadline has been set. (more…)

LVMAC News — LVMAC Awards Its Scholarships


The 2012 award recipients of the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council’s Scholarship Program were honored at the Council’s business meeting on 15 August 2012. Phil Hublitz of the Scholarship Subcommittee, presented the awards, assisted by Dave Binder, Board Member.  The awardees had been vetted by a team consisting of Phil Hublitz and Bob Rothenberger as Co-Chairs, Lois Binder, JoAnn Van Billiard, and Tom Shaunessey

Most of the awardees are high school seniors and the most are enrolling in ROTC in college with plans to serve in the military – several plan twenty year careers in the service. The majority are enrolled in local colleges. Two who are a veteran’s child plan on military service. One homeless veteran is returning to college. Applications from returning veterans continue to be problematic probably due to the generous Post 9/11 GI Bill. Local colleges have a large veteran enrollment, the college financial aid staffs have been contacted and are well aware that scholarships are available from LVMAC. Veterans have a record of success in college. An application has never been received from a Reservist or Guardsman from a local military unit, except for their children. Those recognized, together with their families, were: (more…)

LVMAC News — Why War Stories Matter


Newspaper Logo 70%Dave Venditta, Content Editor for The Morning Call newspaper, spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 18 July on the subject of war stories and why they matter.

He got interested in the subject in the mid-1990’s while trying to find out how his cousin, Nicky, a twenty year old helicopter pilot, had actually died in Vietnam within eleven days of his arrival. Venditta was a 15 year old at the time of the funeral, but memories of his cousin haunted him. In the end, he discovered the official version of death by enemy action was untrue. Instead, Nicky had actually died at the hands of his own while undergoing an in-country orientation. Whether or not the sergeant pulling the pin of the grenade in a demonstration of its safe use actually new it was a live grenade or thought it was a dud or practice grenade was never determined, but three died as a result. One of them was Nicky. However, in the process of relaying the news to the family, his cousins and uncles began recounting their own war stories. (more…)

LVMAC News — Assistant District Attorney Luksa Explains DA’s Veterans’ Mentor Program


Steve Luksa, First Assistant District Attorney for Lehigh County, spoke to the Council on 20 June at its business meeting about the District Attorney’s Veterans’ Mentor Program. Other program team members present with him were: Debbie Garlicki, Executive Aide (Public Relations), DA’s Office; Brenda Trayes, Administrative Assistant, DA’s Office; Shane Schmeckenbecker, Probation Officer II; and Maureen McManus, Executive Director of Lehigh Valley Pretrial Services

According to Mr. Luksa, the one-year old, Veterans’ Mentor Program (whose motto is “Leave no veteran behind.”) started out as part of Team MISA (Mental Illness and Substance Abuse), now in its seventh year and an effort which has reduced cost and recidivism while still protecting the community. An increasing number of veterans were using the that program, but there was no way to address treating them uniquely (as he believed they should be).  Hence the program was created. (more…)

LVMAC News — Mensch Says More Can Be Done


 State Senator Bob Mensch, 24th District, spoke to the Council at its business meeting on 18 April 2012.

A Valley Forge Military Academy graduate, he served in the Army Reserve as a platoon sergeant of a heavy engineer equipment platoon during the Vietnam Era. Currently, among other committees, he serves on the Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee, headed by Senator Lisa Baker.  He is on the only legislator in the valley to so serve on a veterans affairs related committee.

He began by stating he recognizes that the Vietnam War veterans often returned with unattended problems and with little due respect from their society. He has had buddies who suffer from Agent Orange diseases and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Consequently, he feels strongly we must do better by our veterans.

Things are significantly different now, he related, and we have learned to respect our troops, no matter our disagreements about the current war.  Nonetheless, our state legislature is not doing as good a job as it should in helping to catch returning veterans who need help, particularly in the area of mental health and PTSD. (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits — Resources for the Unemployed

Local AFL-CIO Holds a Resources Fair at the Allentown IBEW Hall.

Unemployment leads to a host of problems.  For that reason, the AFL-CIO is holding a resource fair for those who are unemployed on 12 April at the IBEW Hall located at 12th and Liberty in Allentown.  It is one of the five planned for the state.  This should give you an idea of the seriousness of the problem in the valley, despite the “happy talk” you might hear and see in the media.  View it as a survival fair.  Unemployed veterans might benefit from attending. (more…)

LVMAC News — Larry Speaks Out

President of Vietnam Veterans of America’s State Council Addresses the Council

Larry Holman, the President of the State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America, spoke to the Council at its 21 March business meeting on the topic of the “Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) — Not Forgetting Its or the Next Generations.”

First, he explained its origins. VVA came into being because existing veterans organizations at the time were not always welcoming to returning Vietnam veterans – many felt rejected.  However, it did not really get started as an organization until the late 1970’s, early 1980’s.  It realized there was strength in numbers. Out of their own experiences, came its founding principle and its motto:  “Never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.” More on its history can be found on its website.

Mr. Holman stated VVA is an active organization and an outspoken advocate for the current generation of war veterans.  There is good reason.  There are concerns over hazardous exposures, let alone trauma injuries. (more…)

LVMAC News — DiLuzio Says Homeless Veterans Are Not on Radar of Public


 Mr. Pat DiLuzio, Executive Director of Victory House, the area’s only VA recognized homelessness shelter and the new Homelessness Subcommittee Chairman for our Veterans Affairs Committee, addressed the Council at its 18 January 2012 meeting on the subject of homelessness and the plight of our veterans who are a significant proportion of that problem.

He started off with, “Close your eyes and when you think of a homeless person – what comes to mind or what do you see?  Someone sitting on a heating grate; someone with a cup on corner of a busy street asking for food or dollars; children and families; someone in line at a soup kitchen; sadness and sorrow?  These were some of the common answers I’ve heard people who were questioned about homelessness in United States.

“Others were asked, why do you think homelessness exists and what are the causes?  The responses varied, but the top causes in the eyes of the respondents were: alcohol and drug addictions; family break-ups including abusive behavior/family dysfunctions; and physical and mental disabilities.

“But what is really interesting is that when people thought about what came to mind when they [the public] thought about homelessness, no one mentioned the homeless veteran.” (more…)

LVMAC Tidbits — Job Hunt Training Offer


Training to Commence 7 March in South Bethlehem

In response to the growing concern over the unemployment rate of returning veterans, the Lehigh Valley Military Affairs Council (LVMAC) is once again offering its JOVE (Job One:Veterans Employment) program to veterans willing to invest their time to hone their job-seeking skills. Priority will go to those returning from the recent conflicts, for they are less likely to have the job hunting skills needed.

Call 484-602-JOB1 or 610-349-5856, send an email to , or use the online application form from our website,  if you are interested in enrolling. Applications are being accepted now. (more…)