Commander of US veterans group visits Taiwan

By L.J. Lamb ,Special to The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — AMVETS (American Veterans) National Commander Larry E. Via and AMVETS National Ladies Auxiliary President Sylvia W. Rowland have just completed their annual visit to Taiwan at the invitation of the Minister of the R.O.C. Veterans Affairs Council (VAC) Admiral Tung Hsiang-lung. During their visit, the National Commander and National President were given a briefing on the operations of the VAC, which include health care, home care, vocational assistance and family services for the R.O.C. veterans and their families. At the welcoming dinner, Minister Tung expressed his gratitude for AMVETS’ continuing support of Taiwan through its Resolutions at the AMVETS National Convention each year. In return, Commander Via and President Rowland conveyed their appreciation for the hospitality and noted that they were impressed with the dedication of the VAC in caring for the country’s veterans.

On Oct. 31, the R.O.C. Veterans Day, Commander Via attended the rally and gave a speech to the assembled veterans. He also received a medal from the VAC in honor of his dedication to veterans’ affairs and the promotion of relations between the U.S. and R.O.C. veterans.

During their stay, the AMVETS leaders visited the Veterans General Hospital, the VAC’s Taoyuan Training Center, the National Palace Museum, the Taiwan Handicraft Promotion Center, Taipei 101, the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial and the Shih Lin Residence as well as other cultural and historical sites. A special feature of the visit was a trip to Kinmen (Quemoy), just a few miles off the coast of the Chinese mainland, where the AMVETS National Commander and National President were able to see the historic Cold War battlefield, which is now a national park featuring historic military and cultural themes.

AMVETS has been a strong supporter of Taiwan for over three decades, and each year leaders from the VAC and AMVETS exchange information on veterans’ affairs, national defense and foreign relations policies. In it latest National Resolution on Taiwan, AMVETS recognized that the Republic of China on Taiwan is a long-time friend, ally and important trading partner of the United States. Furthermore, Taiwan is a strategically located island and is extremely important to the peace, prosperity and stability of the Pacific Rim.

Regarding the military status, AMVETS noted that the Republic of China maintains a strong and well-trained military force, has extensive air and naval facilities and, therefore, is a vital link in the Pacific defense chain. However, the People’s Republic of China has never renounced the use of force to integrate the Republic of China into its communist system and government and this threat remains substantial.

Consequently, AMVETS supports and encourages the democratic process in Taiwan, and encourages the President of the United States to promote peaceful dialogue and avoid any actions that could lead to military conflict. AMVETS also supports the continued promotion of educational and cultural relationships and exchanges between the United States and the Republic of China.