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Cumming VVA chapter selects veteran of the year
Vet
Gary Goyette was recently selected as the veteran of the year for the Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

A local veterans organization has honored one of its members as the group’s member of the year.

Recently, the Cumming Chapter 1030 of the Vietnam Veterans of America named chapter secretary Gary Goyette veteran of the year.

Chapter President Gary Ely said the group was “blessed” to have Goyette as a member.

"He has just been a pillar for what we have accomplished in our last two years as an organization helping veterans,” Ely said. “He doesn't hesitate to go down to the hospital and visit veterans that are sick.”

Goyette served 20 years in the U.S. Army, where he began working in heavy equipment maintenance and held several positions before retiring as a master sergeant. He said he was surprised to get the award.

“I was completely awe-struck. [I] didn't expect it,” he said.

In his career, Goyette served a tour in Vietnam from 1970-71 and was also stationed in Germany, Korea and Japan, as well as several stops around the United States.

Goyette got involved with the local VVA chapter in 2015 and said he liked the group's community focus.

“My thing about the VVA is it's a small group, it's local,” Goyette said. “We have a national [charter], but all do the same thing. More or less, our focus is on the community: military first, their families, other military. We try to help everyone out that we can.”

He said he also likes that the group is focused on Vietnam veterans and their needs and experiences and that members of the group gather each week.

“[It's] a band of brothers,” Goyette said. “We gather every Friday morning over at the Foster House for breakfast, and we shoot the stuff and tell old war stories. It's a great group of guys. We can relate to each other.”

Among the ways the group gives back to the community: bucket drives, donations of toys for Christmas, visiting fellow veterans, scholarships for local students and more.

Goyette also has taken on the roles of writing the group's newsletter and organizing raffles for the group.

Ely said another part of Goyette's duties includes “tracking down all of our Vietnam veterans that are in need or sick or in the hospital … he sends a real nice write up to the whole chapter so that everybody understands each person's needs and ailments.”

The local chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America meets at 7 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the AA Driving Academy at 216 Atlanta Road.