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2 posts categorized "Veterans"

5 Questions for...Charles Bailey, Director, Agent Orange in Vietnam Program

August 19, 2013

Headshot_charles_baileyFrom 1997 to 2007, Charles Bailey was the Ford Foundation representative in Vietnam. At the start of his posting, the war in Vietnam had been over for more than twenty years, but one of its legacies, environmental contamination caused by the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange, was an under-addressed concern. Bailey looked into the facts of Agent Orange use in the Southeast Asian country and began to develop a vocabulary that American and Vietnamese officials could use to discuss the issue. After a few years, Ford invited the Aspen Institute, which has expertise in facilitating difficult conversations, to initiate a dialogue around the issue, and the two governments began to talk. Eventually, the United Nations, other NGOs and foundations, and several European governments joined the conversation.

But one thing was missing, says Bailey, and that was a way to connect the American public to the effort. With his encouragement, Active Voice, a social documentary shop in San Francisco, put together a three-minute public-service video, "Make Agent Orange History," while San Francisco State University contributed fresh reporting to the discussion through its Vietnam Reporting Project. In 2011, Bailey moved to the Aspen Institute, where he continues to support dialogue, advocacy, and public education around the issue.

Recently, PND spoke with Bailey about the Agent Orange program and what remains to be done.

Philanthropy News Digest: Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang recently met with President Obama in Washington, D.C. Why was the meeting significant?

Charles Bailey: President Sang is the second Vietnamese head-of-state to visit the U.S. since the two countries normalized relations in 1995, and his visit was an important opportunity to celebrate the remarkable progress made since 2007 in at last addressing the legacy of Agent Orange. Over the last six years, our Agent Orange in Vietnam Program has had a hand in raising over $100 million to assist Vietnam to begin to deal with this legacy from the U.S.-Vietnam War. Even more important for the future, President Obama and President Sang issued a joint statement at the end of their talks on July 26 that contained a key statement: "The president reaffirmed the United States' commitment to providing further medical and other care and assistance for people with disabilities, regardless of cause."

I published an op-ed in the Huffington Post on the occasion urging both presidents to take advantage of this breakthrough and include language on disability services and rights as part of a new comprehensive partnership agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam.

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2012 Year in Review: Veterans Issues, Initiatives Gain Support

January 02, 2013

Yir_2012With the war in Iraq over and America’s long engagement in Afghanistan coming to a close, philanthropic investments in nonprofit organizations seeking to address the needs of returning service members and their families moved front and center in 2012, continuing a decade-long trend. But even with veterans issues getting more attention, thanks in part to 2012 Charles Bronfman Prize winner Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and founder of The Mission Continues, concerns grew over insufficient coordination in an increasingly crowded field.

Initiatives announced during the year in support of veterans and military families sought to address a range of issues, from employment and housing, to mental health and wellness, to access to higher education. In April, for example, the University of Southern California received a $10 million gift from alumnus and board trustee William J. Schoen and his wife, Sharon, to provide scholarships to veterans enrolled at USC's Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering. In May, the Robin Hood Foundation, in partnership with the White House and the New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced an initiative to provide job placement services to returning service personnel in the city, where veterans make up 20 percent of homeless adults. In a similar vein, the Walmart Foundation awarded $1 million to Goodwill Industries and $750,000 to Swords to Plowshares, a community-based organization that provides wrap-around care to more than two thousand veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area, in support of efforts to help veterans secure employment and long-term financial stability.

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