John's Open Letters Vol. 1 #20
February 1, 2002
Having had the opportunity to talk to quite a few Chapter Presidents in the recent past I have learned the following.
1) Many Chapters have nothing to do with the National. The most common reasons given: a) Questions were not answered when asked on important business. b) letters sent to the Graybeards were not "allowed" in the magazine. Only pictures of Memorials and Elections of Officers. c) Some Members only pay Chapter dues because they enjoy going to the meetings and receiving the Chapter Newsletter. They couldn't care less whether they get the Graybeards magazine or not. They are not National Members and cannot be involved in any way with the National and that includes voting.
One Chapter had over twenty Members who only pay small Chapter dues but they show up for meetings and participate in other Chapter functions such as parades, assemblies, gatherings and fund raisers.
The usual language about the National is "They only want the dues and don't give a damn about the Members." This is from a total stranger and came unsolicited by me.
I was thanked by every person I talked to and was told they would welcome my letters and pass them on to their Members by putting them in their Newsletters and reading them at their meetings.
I've said this in my previous letters that there are a lot of Members who are in the dark about many of the issues concerning the K.W.V.A. They have repeatedly said the Graybeards give very limited information. Most of them think the Editor is doing a good job and so do I, but they would like the magazine to be more open.
In January or early February 2001, a letter was sent to many Chapters from Director James Jones to secure support for Mr. Coon in regards to the actions taken at the St. Louis Meeting and the expulsion of Ex-President Nick Pappas. This was a letter to give Mr. Coon a vote of confidence at that time. Why, I don't know, unless he had doubts about the action taken on a National level. What was a surprise to me was that one Chapter who received this letter voted at a regular Chapter meeting to support Mr. Coon. The vote was by twenty-five eligible members present, just by voice vote. Only this letter was read and there was no comment from the floor on it. The Chapter has one hundred seventy-five eligible voting Members. This letter was not put in their newsletter for review. Most Members of the Chapter still don't know what went on. The President of the Chapter sent a letter to the National Director saying the Chapter was "One hundred percent in favor" of Mr. Coon's actions. How can 25 votes count for the 175 members?
What was this needed for if Mr. Coon and Mr. Pratt thought their actions were correct? I've heard where Governments and even self appointed military juntas asked for a vote of confidence but never have I heard of a Veterans Organization doing this. Why the need to play politics? What kind of organization does Mr. Coon think he is administering? This is not the proper way to seek support. first you have to earn it by doing what is right.
Since that letter came out and the results of the letter sent to Mr. Jones, information received by me was that some of those who voted at that meeting would have either voted "no" or "abstained". Several said had they known more about Mr. Coon and what was going on in the K.W.V.A they would have voted to file the letter under "No Action" permanently.
For sending out my letters I asked for a current list of Chapter addresses and was told "No one is allowed to receive a list of Members or Chapters without Mr. Coon's permission." His reason is he didn't want them used for commercial purposes. It has been my experience that the Chapter received the mail and decided what to do with it. Why does Mr. Coon "restrict" the mailing addresses of the Chapters (Posts in some vets. groups)? We are not a secret organization. Anyone who wishes to contact a Chapter where they move to or visit cannot find out if there is a Chapter near by. Belonging to the VFW and The American Legion I was freely given a list of Posts. Why the big secret? I find this very controlling like the censoring of the information allowed in the Graybeards.
During the Communist controlled period of Russia all news and information was restricted until Gorbachov declared openness after seventy years of an iron fisted regime. Is this what we want in the K.W.V.A.? I say, "Hell no." I'm fed up with all the dictatorial controlling policies and it is time for a big change. Two more years of this and there will be little left of the K.W.V.A. to talk about.
I urge all who read my letters to vote and to use your good judgment in doing so. We need a clean sweep, as Ken said, so we will have a more representative Board to give respect back to the K.W.V.A. I will make my own personal recommendations later for your consideration.
An interesting note: I talked to a Chapter President who told me all the Members in his Chapter dropped out over the last several years and he is the only active Member in the Chapter. He said he fills all the offices in his one-man Chapter and when there is a parade or other activity he is the only K.W.V.A. representative. He said we need a change of command and a re-write of the National By-Laws. He felt the National is doing little if anything for the Members. My hat is off for his dedication and interest. He said he would welcome my letters even if he is the only one.
Another President of a Chapter said their problem was maintaining a financial balance for their expenses such as postage, rent, etc. I suggested he offer "Daisies" to get donations. He said it would be easy to get the men to work and there are a lot of local businesses for good locations. He was never told we have Daisies. There was no instruction from the National on how to secure funds except when forming a new Chapter. He thanked me for my help and would let me know how they did after Memorial Day. They also put out a newsletter and My letters have been going to every Member. Again I did not ask nor suggest that this be done but I was happy to hear about it. He also said he will be encouraging the Members to vote. He further said he felt the National did not care about them and it was time for a change and he feels the majority of the Members feel like he does.
After reading a late transmittal sent to Mr. Jim Ferris in order to justify Mr. Coon's running for a third term, I pass over Mr. Coon's interpretation of Section 2 in reference to the By-Laws Amendments. His last line reads, "I don't know why a very few members want to destroy our fine organization." I don't know if Mr. Coon is getting the message or if he has put his head in the sand. By saying a very few, he is deluding himself to believe only a handful of Members are concerned. He is wrong. Also, not one person said they want to destroy the K.W.V.A. What they want to happen is to try to keep the K.W.V.A. from destroying itself from within. He needs a wake-up call but I feel he is beyond that. I feel only Mr. Coon by his good deeds, whatever that could be, maybe by resigning or taking his name off the ballot for a third term, can keep the K.W.V.A. from being destroyed.
I was told by a reliable source that the letter sent to me by an attorney, that was requested by a Director, was done only to get me to stop my letters and frighten me from any future letters to the Members. This Director is a supporter of Mr. Coon and I felt that was a rude, nasty, deceptive thing to do on his part and it sure as hell did not work. I will name the Director on request if you don't remember who he is.
We will see what the future brings and I hope it's for the betterment of the K.W.V.A.
Please acknowledge receiving this letter and your personal opinion would be greatly appreciated.
Freedom is not free and it never was.
Respectfully, John Kronenberger