NACV was formed in 1968 while I was still an ROTC student at the University of Alabama therefore much of my sharing of its beginnings comes from the war stories which were passed down after I got out of the Army in '72 and became involved in UA's local chapter which I joined in '73 or '74.
NACV began as a grassroots community based vets helping vets organization that sprung up around country because there was nothing there for returning nam vets. We all know the stories.... no welcome home, no parades and worse big time disrespect and abuse. In the beginning even the traditional veteran organizations were non receptive. Hence, NACV. most of the chapters that sprang up were composed of student veteran organizations. I think at Alabama it was Student Veterans Association. In fact, initially the C in NACV stood for collegiate vets. We changed in 72 when the headquarters was moved to DC and became Natl Assn of Concerned Veterans.
During NACV;s peak there were thousands of chapters around the country. The beauty of NACV and NABV and Swords to Plow Shares and others was each was driven by the needs of the community and grassroots vets where they were. If it was the PVS Rap groups, or the support groups or the networking or the assistance for benefits, employment, problem solving, claims, discharge issues, housing, legal aid, mental health, substance abuse, it was available even though often lacking the expertise and sophistication needed. At Alabama some of the vets who had gotten through some of those challenges were instrumental in not only helping recent discharges but also reached out to faculty and administration to step in and provide support and credentials at times.
However for the most part during that period the services, resources, organizational structure etc was not there. It took a lot of in your face aggressive confrontations fueled by resentment, angry, frustration caused by the living hells many of the vets were experiencing to force colleges, universities, congress, administrations, Agencies at the federal, state and local levels to act and do something. It took groups like veterans law project, Natl Council of Churches, League of Cities, Council of Mayors, June Willenz AVC, Stu Feldman and many community and faith based and social service organizations in order to force some changes.
Those changes were not voluntary and did not come quickly.
Colleges and Universities around the country had no clue what to do or how to handle these crazy vietnam vets. At Alabama the local chapter of NACV which was VSA forced the VA certifying official out. he had been there for 25 years and was a WWII vet. This was typical for institutions around the country. The office was usually one certifying office and a secretary. At Alabama the story of the certifying official's pat response to the vets who came to him for assistance was:
Stop crying! Get your hair cut and get a job!
To be continued
next segment Veterans Cost of Instruction Payments Program
Vet Rep on Campus, DVOP, etc.
and then how the movement was killed.... lol no conspiracy theory
and a little about the closest thing to perpetual motion... the system and the bureaucracy and how a pendulum works and the scientific concept of regression to the mean. 🙁