RUTLAND—The City of Rutland and Chapter 1 of the Vietnam Veterans of America have established a memorial trust fund to provide perpetual care and upkeep of the Rutland County Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Chapter 1, the first VVA chapter in the nation and located in Rutland, has provided $10,000 to establish the trust for care of the memorial. Further contributions from Chapter 1 and the public are possible under terms of the trust.
The Vietnam veterans’ group approached the city to establish the memorial trust fund, realizing the day was coming when the group would no longer be active. Unlike veterans’ groups like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America only accepts regular members who served in or during the war (1964-75). Most Vietnam era veterans are well into their senior years.
An agreement was approved at a meeting of Chapter 1 on Sept. 13, 2017. The agreement gives the city of Rutland formal ownership of the memorial, which is located on city property at Main Street Park, which was mainly a formality since the memorial has always been on city property. Chapter 1 will continue to oversee the care and upkeep of the memorial with assistance from the Rutland Garden Club and the city’s Recreation & Parks Department, as long as the chapter is able and functioning.
A Rutland County Vietnam Veterans Memorial Joint Committee will oversee care and maintenance of the memorial, using money in the trust to cover expenses. The committee will be made up of members of the aldermanic Recreation Committee, which oversees city parks; a city appointee; and veterans. The veterans will be holdovers from the Chapter 1 leadership or appointees by the mayor.
As part of its efforts to preserve the memorial tribute to the area’s Vietnam veterans, Chapter 1 is replacing the existing marble memorial sculpture, a horizontal figure of a soldier, as the original sculpture has shown signs of deterioration. The replacement is being sculpted by Don Ramey of West Rutland with a dedication planned for Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2017.
“I want to thank the Vietnam Veterans of America for their service to our country, and for their service to our city in making what is already a beautiful monument, even better!” said Tom DePoy, alderman and chair of the Recreation Committee.
Chapter 1 received its charter in 1980, thanks to the organizing efforts of the late Don Bodette of Rutland. Bodette convinced VVA founder Bobby Muller that the organization needed a chapter organization to represent veterans of the war.
Nationally, the VVA includes more than 75,000 members and 500 chapters. Chapter 1 has about 140 members and is located at 15 Wales St. in the VFW building.