By Cara Rinkoff, Managing Editor and
Alana Stolnitz, NMAJMH Intern

On May 5, more than 75 people gathered at the National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH) to honor those who served in the Vietnam War with a new exhibit, Jewish Americans in Military Service During Vietnam.

After discussions for at least a decade, museum staff and the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) Vietnam Veterans Committee started working on the exhibit in the fall of 2020.

“We just talked about it and batted it around, but nothing happened until a few years ago when we finally said it’s the time,” said Bob Jacobs, Chairman of the JWV Vietnam Veterans Committee.
This is the first time the museum has worked directly with a JWV committee on an exhibit.

“We’ve done exhibits where I’ve done them all in house and we’ve done exhibits where we’ve worked with exhibit companies. But this one, the Vietnam Veterans Committee kind of curated it,” said Pam Elbe, NMAJMH Director of Collections, Archives, and Exhibitions. “Just figuring out who does what and gathering all the info and letting them tell their own story but still doing it in a professional way.”

“We were raising money for it but then, and then because of the book… which became a serious part of the exhibit, even before there was an exhibit, we had the book,” said Gerald Alperstein.

Gerald Alperstein peers into the new exhibit before it’s official opening

Alperstein served as the editor for a book on disc that features stories from JWV members who served in Vietnam. In one area of the museum’s exhibit, you can use computers to read those stories. The disc is also available for purchase from both the museum and “As we gathered items, and we had to come up with a theme for the exhibit, we had to create what ended up being a 56-page outline of the exhibit,” said Jacobs.

There are several other sections of the new exhibit including items brought back from Vietnam by service members, several uniforms, and numerous medals. The items represent individuals who served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. The exhibit highlights more than just those who served in combat in Vietnam, but those who served in supporting roles around the world and back in the U.S.

“The reason I donated is it’s important for people to know, who visited the museum, that Jews served in Vietnam, and by looking at the different items that I have donated, I believe people will be able to say that not only did Jews serve, they served in Vietnam, and they served in combat situations,” said JWV Past National Commander Harvey Weiner.

Some of the items donated by Weiner are related to his work in Operation Phoenix. He served as an intelligence advisor to the Vietnamese.

“The Vietnam vets are getting quite old, so we need to get their stories before they’re gone,” said Elbe. “And we have this museum and we have so much of their stuff and they’re willing to loan us some of their stuff that maybe they don’t want to part with, so it was a great opportunity to do that.”

Jacobs added, “When we’re gone, who’s going to say that Jews served in Vietnam?”

Volume 76. Number 2. 2022

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) is pleased to announce it has elected it’s 91st National Commander, Nelson Mellitz of New Jersey and 3rd National Vice Commander, Barry Lischinsky of Massachusetts during its 127th National Convention in Savannah, Georgia on August 11, 2022.

National Commander Nelson Mellitz joined the Jewish War Veterans in the early 1990s while still on active duty as part of his family’s 80-year legacy of serving the organization.

During his upcoming year leading JWV, he wants the organization, ”to continue to embody the capabilities and precepts that distinguish it from other military and veteran’s organizations. We will go back to our roots to fight increasing anti-Semitism, communicate with federal, state, and local Congressional representatives about the importance of supporting the military, veterans, their families, and Jewish communities, and partner with other organizations that support our mission. We will advocate frequently for the State of Israel wherever the opportunity presents itself.”

Mellitz continues an over 80-year family legacy of serving in the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America. He held many leadership positions in JWV including National Vice Commander, National Quartermaster, National Chief of Staff, Department of NJ Commander, and Council Commander.

Mellitz served 32 years in the United States Air Force, retiring as a Colonel.

Nelson is Vice President of World Wide Business Operations for Land Sea Air Security, LLC. LSA Security markets proven military defensive equipment.

He has been married to Debbie Markowitz Mellitz for 42 years and they have two daughters.

National Vice Commander (NVC) Barry Lischinsky joined JWV while on active duty in 2000 and became a life member after leaving the service.

As NVC Lischinsky stated his goals: “My primary goal is to increase membership and to secure partnerships with others to support veterans, servicemembers and their families.” Building on the legacy of Past National Commander Harvey Weiner, “I want to make sure everyone knew that Jews served in the military, and to promote that Jews served honorably, were injured and even died in service, from the Revolutionary War to the present,” said Lischinsky.

Lischinsky has held numerous positions at all levels within the Jewish War Veterans including National Chief of Staff, National Membership Chairman, Department of Massachusetts Commander, and Post Commander.

Lischinsky began his 34-year military career in 1969, retiring as a Colonel in 2004. In 2015 became Deputy Superintendent at the Soldiers’ Home in Chelsea, Massachusetts, and one year later was appointed Acting Superintendent by the Governor. Lischinsky retired from State service in March 2017.

About Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Founded in 1896, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is the oldest active veterans’ organization in America. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. As a national organization, JWV represents the voice of America’s Jewish veterans on issues related to veterans’ benefits, foreign policy, and national security. JWV also commits itself to the assistance of oppressed Jews worldwide.

By Ronald Rutherford, Lead Whole Health Outreach
and Andrea Young, Health System & Communications Specialist

What matters to you — not, what is the matter with you — is the focus of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) model of Whole Health. Your whole health team will get to know you as a person to develop a personalized health plan based on your values, needs, and goals to best support your full health and well-being.

Why Whole Health?
Health outcomes in our country are poor. The U.S. is now ranked 46th in life expectancy, despite spending far more on health care than any other country. VA recognized it was time to create a health system, rather than a disease care system; one that empowers and equips Veterans to discover a new path to health and well-being. VA is a national leader in Whole Health.

How is this different?
Whole Health puts you in control of your care, focusing on self-care, skill building, and support. These services are not diagnosis or disease-based but support the personal health plan of each veteran. Stress reduction, yoga, tai chi, mindfulness, nutrition, acupuncture, and health coaching are available. You don’t have to wait until something is wrong to improve your well-being. You can set goals based on what is important to you and work toward those goals with your health care team.

Will Whole Health help me?
Studies show veterans who use Whole Health services report being able to manage stress better and note care they receive as more patient centered. Veterans with chronic pain who used Whole Health services had a threefold reduction in opioid use compared to those who did not. Since focusing on the eight self-care areas of the Circle of Health, veterans report pain management is not the only benefit of using Whole Health services. They are having success with weight loss, improved mental health as well as improvements in vital signs and diagnostic test results.

Whole Health in Action

Scot Moon

Marine Reservist, Scot Moon struggled with chronic neck pain since High School. Moon, a VA employee in Long Beach California, found a 11-minute acupressure routine on VA’s #LiveWholeHealth Blog series instructed by registered nurse LaurieAnne Nabinger with the Seattle VA Medical Center. He practiced it several times a day and within a week his pain was gone. Before that, Moon saw a massage therapist weekly at $80 per visit. “I didn’t look forward to that because it was so intense,” he said. “I always had knots in the muscles between my shoulder blades that had to be worked out. They are no longer there.” Moon now enjoys swimming, cycling and indoor rock climbing, which he cruises through without any of the pain he lived with for years.

Richard Fratelli

At 77 years old, Marine Corps veteran Richard Fratarelli has made huge strides in his personal fitness and health with help from a Whole Health Coach. Fratarelli lost 70 pounds in less than a year with the support of his Whole Health Coach Lindsey Higdon at the Port Charlotte VA Outpatient Clinic in Florida. Besides sticking to a healthy diet, exercise was key to meeting his health goals. Fratarelli noted that when he started in June 2021, “I could barely make it across the room.” Now he walks four miles most days — even walking a 5K Turkey Trot last November with a walker.
A Vietnam-era combat veteran, Fratelli said health care providers had been telling him for several years he needed to lose weight, and he had put it off. But he decided he couldn’t put it off any longer after his A1c level (a three-month average blood sugar level) spiked, forcing him to start taking diabetes medication. His VA primary care provider encouraged him to work with a Whole Health Coach to lose weight.

How can I start?
VA Whole Health information, tools, and resources including the Whole Health App are available and easily accessible through our website Whole Health services are available through your VA health care facility. Stop in and ask to speak to your VA facility’s Whole Health staff.

Volume 76. Number 2. 2022

By PNC David Magidson

Our dinner in celebration of JWV’s 125th Anniversary and in honor of the retirement of former National Executive Director Herb Rosenbleeth took place at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. on May 5.

Planning and nurturing the event to fruition, in conjunction with the opening of the Vietnam Exhibit at the NMAJMH, were PNC Ed Goldwasser, PNC Norman Rosenshein, PNC Robert Pickard, and PNC Barry Schneider.

PNC Harvey Weiner led the first part of the celebration dinner, which showcased the distinguished history of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Donald Remy delivered the keynote address.

After dinner, PNC Jeffrey Sacks led the portion of the celebration dedicated to Herb and his many accomplishments. When Herb spoke there were only a few dry eyes among his family, friends, and JWV members. The evening concluded with the reading of the names of the Jewish service members killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

You know it was a night to remember when those present not only praised the event, but the food as well.

I wish to thank the many Posts and individuals whose generosity allowed all who wished to partake to be present, as well as the JWV staff – without whom none of this could have happened.

Volume 76. Number 2. 2022

By PNC Harvey Weiner

JWV has once again submitted an amicus (friend of court) brief in a veteran’s case before the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS), Arellano v. McDonough, No. 21-432. The case involves a veteran who, because of his PTSD, missed the one-year filing date after discharge, which was necessary to qualify for veterans benefits for his PTSD. The legal issue is whether the rebuttable presumption of equitable tolling the statute of limitations applies in this case, that is, in fairness to the veteran, did he have a really good excuse for missing the strict one-year deadline. Previous case law holds that there can be no excuse for missing the one-year deadline, but, as explained in our brief, Jewish American WWII soldier and novelist Joseph Heller would say that to deny the veteran his benefits for his PTSD because his PTSD caused him to miss the deadline would be the ultimate Catch-22.

The veteran in this case waited 30 years to submit his application for benefits, but our brief noted that the Jewish American World War II soldier and veteran J.D. Salinger suffered PTSD and that he was unable to submit a claim his entire life. He became a life-long recluse and never wrote another full novel. In the case at hand, we argue that the VA should not act as an obstacle to veterans seeking benefits to which they are entitled, but rather act as a catcher in the rye.

This is the fifth appellate case in the past ten years in which JWV has stepped up to the plate and submitted an amicus brief in support of veterans and soldiers. The other cases involved a war memorial cross (SCOTUS), DACA veterans and soldiers (SCOTUS), transgender soldiers (D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals), and the right to counsel for a veteran in a civil case where there was a high risk of incarceration for failing to pay child support (Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court). JWV has received enormous positive publicity for these actions and has a national reputation in the legal and veteran communities for litigating veterans causes in high profile court cases. In this case, co-amicus, Military Veterans Advocacy, Inc., welcomed JWV as a player and commented on JWV’s reputation in this regard.

JWV is usually the only major veterans organization to advocate for veterans and soldiers in the courts. I do not know why the other major veterans organizations, with their greater resources, do not do so as well. Perhaps it is because they cannot act fast enough since there is usually very short notice. In this case, we had two weeks to submit a brief and JWV authorized the brief within 48 hours. I have occasionally wondered if, because all the veterans organizations except for JWV do not support a veteran’s position in court, a judge might think that they oppose the veteran’s position in the case. I believe this reluctance of these other veterans organizations to join in litigation not only does not advance their mission to help veterans but may even hurt veterans.

All briefs in Arellano will be submitted by the end of June and arguments are expected in the 2022-2023 term, which should begin on the first Monday in October. I will let you know the result.

Volume 76. Number 2. 2022

By Richard Goldenberg

Rich Goldenberg, JWV Post 105 Adjutant and Capital District Council Commander, places a flag at a Jewish veteran headstone in the Congregation Beth Abraham Jacob cemetery in Albany, N.Y., May 29, 2022.

Veterans and families of veterans from across the Capital District joined the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America for a variety of events to honor and remember the sacrifice of Jewish service members.

Schenectady Post 106 member Jason Lefton and Albany Post 105 Adjutant Rich Goldenberg carry the national and JWV colors during the City of Albany Memorial Day parade May 30, 2022.

More than two dozen attendees gathered at Congregation Beth Israel in Schenectady on Sunday, May 20 to acknowledge the sacrifice of Jewish veterans in all eras. The service, led by Albany Post 105 Commander Fred Altman, included a reading of all the fallen Jewish service members from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We pay tribute to the many heroes of all races and all creeds, who in their lifetime rendered patriotic service to our country,” Altman said. “Let us dedicate our own strength and lives to the ideals of freedom for which they gave their utmost.”
The service also included Jim Strosberg of Beth Israel, who read a letter written to him by his father on May 6, 1945 while serving in Europe with the 29th Infantry Division as a battalion surgeon.

“The combined ceremony for the council’s JWV posts was a great way to bring more veterans together in a common cause,” Altman said. “Today’s joint service was very good and a continuing positive model for future events.”

Following the memorial service, volunteers divided up to place flags in area Jewish cemeteries. JWV coordinates the placement of 1,030 flags in 13 cemeteries in partnership with Temple Israel and Beth Emeth in Albany.

JWV joined the City of Albany on Memorial Day, May 30, for its returning Memorial Day parade. Eight volunteers joined Altman and Post 106 Commander Gene Altman to march the mile and a half down Central Avenue in Albany with the JWV colors.

The Capital District Council for the Jewish War Veterans of the USA includes Albany Post 105, Schenectady Post 106, Saratoga Springs Post 36, and Amsterdam Post 401.

Volume 76. Number 2. 2022

The Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. (JWV) joins veterans across the country today celebrating the signing of the PACT Act.

“Toxic exposure from burn pits to Agent Orange and other chemicals touches so many in the military and veteran community,” said National Commander Alan Paley. “I am proud of JWV’s vital role in advocating to expand VA health care eligibility and creating a framework for the establishment of future presumptions of service connection.”

“JWV advocacy was a difference maker in securing Congressional passage. The comprehensive package of disability benefits and expanded VA health care services is well earned and is long overdue,” Paley said.

About Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America
Founded in 1896, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America is the oldest active veterans’ organization in America. JWV is dedicated to upholding America’s democratic traditions and fighting bigotry, prejudice, injustice, and discrimination of all kinds. As a national organization, JWV represents the voice of America’s Jewish veterans on issues related to veterans’ benefits, foreign policy, and national security. JWV also commits itself to the assistance of oppressed Jews worldwide.

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