I would appreciate the opportunity to introduce to you, The North Carolina Vietnam Veterans, Inc. and its education arm The Bridge Back Foundation. My names is Bill Dixon (Vietnam 67-68) and serve as the President of NCVVI and member of the board for The Bridge Back Foundation.
North Carolina Vietnam Veterans, Inc. (NCVVI) is a state chartered tax free non profit Veterans Organization composed of men and women who served in Vietnam. NCVVI was formed for comradeship, support veterans and their families and to educate the public on the real story of the war and the men and women that where involved. NCVVI established a Scholarship Program that has helped, Vietnam Veterans and their families, and was later expanded to include students taking the "Lessons of Vietnam" full curriculum course in the local high schools, with their trade school or college education.
Bob Matthews, NCVVI member and educator established with NCVVI a full curriculum course in Wake County, North Carolina school system. The course is called, "The Lessons of Vietnam" (LOV). The members of NCVVI and veterans from the community are "guest speakers" in the class rooms. As every veteran depending on job, date in country and personalities vary, each story is different, the students are exposed to a varied personal experience. To fully give the students a view of the country and the times, war protesters and those who did not serve in Vietnam as well as those who served at home are encouraged to speak. A very popular aspect also has been the "Linkage" program where students are assigned a one on one experience with a "Vietnam Veteran". The course has been well accepted by students, educators and the communities and has expanded into approximately 700 schools nationwide.
The Bridge Back Foundation and its on-going mission, "To Teach a Nation" was established by NCVVI as a consulting arm to aid veterans, educators and community groups. The Foundation has a Teacher Training Academy for instructing potential teachers how to use the local resources available to them. The Foundation is continuously expanding its mission "To Teach a Nation" by implementing the course and sharing it's expertise across the nation and internationally with school systems, symposiums and educational conferences.
Working with Marcia Silva's Global Community Service Foundation, 12 members of NCVVI (paying their own way) returned to Vietnam to visit and share across the country. With local community support NCVVI was able to present to the students of the Quang Tri Providence School for the blind, equipment for their educational and entertainment experiences. At the Phu Loc, Nuoc Ngot Orphanage 40+ bikes where purchased. Medical and school supplies and toys that NCVVI had brought with them where presented. The veterans fell in love with the children and the nuns of the orphanage and are currently raised $15,000 for a much needed "playground". NCVVI returned again in 2014 to Dong Ha Vietnam and put in a playground for 110 autistic & deaf children and home for 30 street children.
Two local high schools, Athens and Cary, LOV students put together introductory packets for the students of Vietnam. These packets consisted of personal and family pictures, a book, personal items and trinkets from key chains, ice hockey pucks to T shirts. A long with these items the students included their e-mail addresses. At the Le Qui Don Secondary School in Dong Ha, the veterans met with the students and presented them with school and medical supplies along with the packets. The students where introduced to the game of soft ball and Bob Matthews taught a geography class but the big hit was the packets. These students where very moved by their new friends reaching out to them. Before the veterans returned from Vietnam, the students where exchanging emails and their cultures with their new friends. A Vietnam Teacher to American Teacher e-mail and lesson plans exchange was also set up as an ongoing program.
NCVVI its dedicated men and women are proud of the things the organization has done for veterans, their families and the community. 100% of all donations received are used for the many projects and outreach programs that NCVVI sponsors. NCVVI works closely with the Vietnamese and Montagnard communities in the area. A young lady form the Montagnard community just graduated from law school with the help from a scholarship. NCVVI is especially proud of the efforts and the affects of the LOV curriculum has had on students and the community.
Bob Matthews, the creator of the LOV course and co-author of the present Vietnam curriculum is a master teacher of 40 years in the school system. He was recently awarded the honor of "NCVVI Veteran of the Year", and was voted 12 times The Teacher of the Year. As a Vietnam Veteran 67-68) and the Director of the Bridge Back Foundation Bob's expertise and dedicated guidance has been invaluable, he has been published in USA Today, National Geographic, Voice of Vietnam, Cary News and the News and Observer. He has presented papers multi times at Texas Tech and state conventions on teaching Vietnam and has his BA and M.Ed. degree from the University of Edinboro.
Some of our best accolades comes from the students who have become friends, but below are a few from the community:
"The Vietnam Workshop presented by Bob and the Vietnam Veterans, Inc. is the best I have ever attended."
-- Esther Dunnegan - Social Studies Specialist, Wake County Schools
"Bob Matthews, a Social Studies Teacher in North Carolina and the North Carolina Vietnam Veterans, Inc. has developed one of the best courses of study on Vietnam in the nation."
-- Jerry Starr, Director of The Center For Social Studies Education, Pittsburgh, Pa
"The Bridge Back team has the methods, knowledge and first hand experience that schools need today. They will bring to your school system a complete comprehensive package that is unmatched in the country. They are the best in their field. Don't pass on this one."
-- Marcia Silva - The Global Spectrum Vietnam Travel Specialist, Washington, DC