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Speakers Bureau

 

Are you a Bay Area educational institution or an organized group looking for someone to speak at your next function or class about the Viet Nam War?
 LOOK NO FURTHER THAN THE
VIET NAM VETERANS OF DIABLO VALLEY
SPEAKERS BUREAU.

Not in the Bay Area? Call or email to discuss options to have a
Skype presentation and reserve a date.

Please call us ASAP for scheduling!

Speakers Bureau Directors

  Mike Martin (925) 323-1093 rmcent@aol.com

  Bill Green  (925) 820-5918 billgreen@aol.com

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AS OF MAY 2017, THE VNVDV
SPEAKERS BUREAU HAS REACHED 77,750 STUDENTS

2013 Highlight VNVDV Speaker's Bureau exceeds 50,000 students
participating in educational presentations on the Vietnam War


VN Veterans Share Stories of the War May 30, 2013
pdf | online

The purpose of the Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley Speakers Bureau is to offer the public a source of authentic information about America's longest hot war. We are in our 14th year of speaking to students from grammar school to college level and public organizations such as Rotary or Kiwanis. We have spoken to over 51,000 students and adults providing "Living History" lessons. Our speakers include combat infantrymen, pilots, sailors, Riverine personnel, nurses and ground support personnel. The Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley is a non-political, non-partisan organization; therefore, no current politics are discussed. If any questions are asked of that nature they are respectfully declined to be answered and we move forward in our presentations.

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 The Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley on April 7, 2005 were presented a Certificate of Recognition by the State of California Superintendant of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell :

 "Presented to the VIETNAM VETERANS OF DIABLO VALLEY SPEAKERS BUREAU for providing an invaluable service to our children by imparting knowledge, words of wisdom, and an unforgettable first-person account of what it was like to serve our country during the Vietnam War.

 Seeing history through the eyes of a person who lived it is the best kind of ‘textbook’ we have.

 I am most grateful that you have chosen to offer your unique perspective on the past to those who will forward and shape our future."

 

 The Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley Speakers Bureau provides this service to the community so that those that hear our presentations can hear directly from Viet Nam Veterans regarding their personal experiences before, during, and upon their return home. Our purpose is not to tell ‘war stories’ but to help the audience understand what the individual veterans’  personal responsibilities were ranging from combat infantry, aviation, to supply.

 The typical format for our presentation includes an introduction including some interesting statistics about the War. Each of the veterans then speaks briefly about their personal experience before, during and after the war.  This is followed by a question and answer period, which is always rewarding for the students and veterans alike.

 We have been very well received by many schools. We have spoken to and are invited back to many schools. Some of the schools where we have presented include Amador Valley HS, Foothill HS, California HS, San Ramon Valley HS, Concord HS, Ygnacio Valley HS, Clayton Valley HS, Mandela HS, Liberty HS, Dublin HS, Doughtery Valley HS, Washington HS, Gunn HS, Monte Vista HS, Las Positas College, Diablo Valley College, St. Mary’s College, St. Raymond’s Elementary, and Christ the King Young Adults. We have also spoken to several Rotary Clubs and other organizations.

In addition to all the local Bay Area presentations, the bureau has presented this program to high schools in New Jersey and Pennsylvania via Skype.

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READ WHAT THE EDUCATORS ARE SAYING:

"Your presentations have just the right balance. Your personal accounts, pictures, historical background, humor, and raw emotion made the Vietnam experience so much more tangible and real than any text book could ever hope to achieve. My students understood the reality of the war from your perspective and this has helped them to not only view what they read in a new light but also to ask insightful questions and entertain new opinions. You have truly enlightened them! Bravo!"
Stacey Wickware, Clayton Valley Charter High School

"On my final, I ask the students to write about the thing they learned this year that they will never forget. Well over half of my students write about Vietnam and the two of you. I hope you both know how appreciative I am, and we all are, that you are willing to share not only your experience but so much of your personal life stories with us. You have forever changed our lives and we are eternally grateful."
Shanna Gagnon, California High School

"The U.S. History Department feels your visit has a huge impact on our students’ understanding of the Vietnam Experience. Our teachers are not always at the exact same point in the curriculum, but your visit is of such a high value that all the history teachers have their students listen to the presentations."
Tom Dalldorf,  Amador Valley High School

"The presentation is invaluable, poignant, and even at times humorous...The impact on my classes has been tremendous....They are still talking about the presentation at the end of the semester. It deeply moves many of them and "
Dr. Teri Ann Bengiveno,  Las Positas College

"...These veterans are sharing living history with students. Having observed many of these presentations, I saw the effects the veterans had on the students. The high school students listened intently and had many questions that the veterans were very willing to answer. The veterans gave a lot of factual information. This was not a political presentation and the vets only gave their opinions when asked by a student. The presentations are mostly facts based on eye witness accounts. It is one thing to read about the Vietnam War in history class. It is another to listen to a real person who went through all the tragedies and controversies of war. Again, the Vietnam Veterans have stories that are living history that need to be shared before all we can do is read about them in textbooks."
Susan Perry,  St. Mary’s College Graduate

"You asked me to get some responses from my students regarding your presentation on Thursday, June 5th at Concord High. So I simply asked them what they thought of your presentation and here are some of their responses:" "They were cool!" "In my opinion, I thought it was VERY educational in an interesting way." "It was good; you couldn’t learn that in a textbook!" "Thanks a lot Miss Lilly, that was great!" "I learned a lot and it was interesting." "I learned what it (the Vietnam war) was actually like." "That was cool!" "It was more realistic about what happened in the war than what’s in a textbook." "It was very interesting!" "The best part was when the speakers talked about what they did, because they all did something different." "Hearing real accounts made it more interesting than a textbook." "I liked the pictures."These responses may be simpler than what you want, but consider yourselves lucky because this is the most prolific reaction I’ve gotten from them about anything we’ve done this year.  None of the students had anything negative to say about your presentation. The manner in which they behaved during your presentation spoke volumes. Myself, and the other Special Education teachers present, were very impressed with how well they behaved and showed interest.  We were all very pleased with your visit and thank each of you for sharing your personal memories and knowledge with us. The students and I had some great discussions after your presentation and it created a great opportunity for them to engage in critical thinking skills and view this era of history in a realistic and thoughtful way.
Thanks again,
Carmen Lilly, Special Education Teacher,
Social Science Concord High School

"Too often students with little experience in the world are victims of the political opinions of others. They learn, not facts, but whatever is politically popular, however incorrect it may be. Recently the efforts of the Bush administration have placed undue emphasis on the ill effects of war, and have omitted the human element--that it is our brothers and sisters who are placing their lives on the line in their service of their country. This is too often omitted in the news, and it the necessary, but often missing part of the story. I believe that the visit of the veterans to my class gave my students a chance to imagine what war is like from the inside--and what risks and stresses our veterans have endured for the causes that our country has championed. It gave my students the chance to rethink whatever political views they may have adopted from parents or the college environment. It gave them a chance to see that it is not an easy matter to condemn war. The warriors are so impressive, and so worthy of recognition for their bravery. This kind of human understanding has the effect of opening students' minds to see that there are many versions of every story. They realized that the press doesn't always do the best job of presenting all sides, nor do public news sources dwell on the personal and the intimate stories of war experiences. The presence of the veterans in our class gave students a chance to learn history from the source, from those who were central to the making of it. This, I am sure, gave them a new respect for the military, for those generous citizens who gave so much of their lives to the well-being of this country, and rebuilding of others. And, I suspect, this has given students reason to question opinion, as well as what they hear and read in the news. I hope this experience has taught students the necessity to gather information from reliable sources before they come to any kind of conclusions. Thank you so much for your visit. Although I am about your age, and remember well the Vietnam war era, I was very moved and impressed by your presentations. I hope we may invite you back into our Senior Forum class some day". Best wishes,
Marsha Newman, Director Liberal & Civic Studies Program,
St. Mary's College

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Vietnam vets still living with the pain

C.W. Nevius

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A couple of times a night, Bill Green gets up to prowl his Alamo home. He keeps the lights out because he wants to be able to check for movement in the backyard.

"You might call it paranoia,'' the former Army infantry officer say. "We call it being on patrol.''

Thirty-seven years ago, two weeks before the Tet Offensive, Green, landed in Vietnam. Twelve months and three Purple Hearts later he left.

Nothing has ever been the same.

"It does change your life unbelievably,'' says Green, now 57. "The thing about it is, you don't realize it. It is only as you grow older that you find little things that will trigger it.''

Green's good friend, Mike Martin, works in sales in Danville. Martin was a naval supply officer in Da Nang in 1969. Today, he's 56, successful, and loves to listen to the oldies on KFRC.

"But every once in a while a song will come up,'' he says, "and I have no idea why, but I start crying.''

Martin and Green are founding members of Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley, (www.VNVDV.com) a group some 150 members strong, who often speak to high schools and colleges about the historical perspective of the Vietnam War. Once, after a talk at Los Positas College in Livermore, psychology Professor Cynthia Ross asked if they knew anyone with post-traumatic stress disorder who could speak to her class.

"Mike just looked at me with this grin,'' says Green, "and he said, 'Yeah, we might know some people.' ''

PTSD is not a new phenomenon, but at a public gathering Thursday in Livermore, the Vietnam generation will offer a warning: PTSD will infect the troops in Iraq, who will need more than a little time on the beach when they get home if they are to get over it.

"Anybody that goes to war is going to be affected in some shape or form, '' Martin says. "We tucked those feelings in our footlockers and 20 years later they came out.''

To be perfectly honest, not everyone was sure that talking publicly about Vietnam was a great idea. It was hard enough to discuss the flashbacks and demons with their families.

Martin made it to the stage at his first public meeting, but couldn't bring himself to speak. And even after they begin, many vets may not finish.

"When some of us get up in front of people to give these talks,'' Martin says, "some of us will literally break. Something flashes in our head and the voice starts to quiver and eyes will well up.''

Green, a retired electrician who was such a tough guy on the job his nickname was "Grumpy,'' admits rarely making it all the way through without a quaver. But the audience is transfixed.

"The first time they came,'' Ross says. "you could hear a pin drop.''

The vets talk about who they were when they left for Vietnam, what they did when they were there, and how they were changed when they returned.

Green, who was "in country'' in the northern mountains, lived on the ragged edge of anxiety for 12 months. There were times, he says, when he went 30 days without a firefight. And there were times when they came every day.

"Did you ever kill someone?'' a high school kid sometimes asks.

"Yes,'' Green replies, matter-of-factly. "Next question.''

In some ways, Green never left Vietnam. When he walks in a park he finds himself checking for places a sniper might be hiding. He doesn't like crowds. When he goes to a restaurant, he makes a point of sitting with his back to the wall. He doesn't want anyone coming up behind him.

Martin, on the other hand, tells students that he never fired his rifle and never upholstered his pistol while he was in Da Nang.

"But every night I was in Vietnam I was either rocketed or mortared,'' he says. "I saw things I wish I'd never seen. I was 22 when I went, 23 when I came back, and it has changed every day of my life.''

Right now the vets are waiting and watching. Both Green and Martin say that when the Sept. 11 terror attacks took place, some in their group "began to lose it a little.'' They understand the stress of battle. And they know troops are coming back from Iraq with loads of baggage.

"Every time a car drives by them for the rest of their life they have to be thinking it is going to blow up,'' Green says.

They empathize, and would like to help, but continue to struggle with their own pain.

But at least today's troops will have a chance to make the transition. After pretending for years that PTSD was not a problem, the military has recognized the need to provide more support.

Of course, it would be hard to provide less than what the Vietnam vets got.

Green left Vietnam in jungle fatigues, landed in Seattle at 5:30 in the morning, was headed to San Francisco by 11, and was ordering a drink at San Francisco International Airport by 2 p.m. -- only to be hassled by the bartender.

He didn't think Green was old enough to drink.


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Program - at LAS POSITAS COLLEGE

Members of Viet Nam Veterans of Diablo Valley discussed their experiences in the war and with post-traumatic stress disorder. Click the Video Clip button below to view actual event, as KTVU News reported. Please be patient, this is a huge file and takes time to download to your computer. Everything has been checked and is certified virus free. This clip will not harm your computer in any way.



Video of Speakers Bureau at Las Positas College

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