American Veterans Collection Inc. focuses on helping veterans heal and teaches youth about war.
Formed by Vietnam War combat veteran and Lowell resident Jim Chancellor, it is a nonprofit organization focused on helping veterans with housing and educating youth about the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder.
This is the latest effort to help others by the Black Oak native who served in Vietnam from 1969-1970 as a U.S. Army door gunner on a Huey helicopter. He survived the crash of that helicopter shot down April 20, 1970 by Viet Cong.
In 1972, soon after Chancellor returned from combat in Vietnam, he began giving back to others who’ve made that same journey. That year he helped organize and participated in a 50-mile walk to raise money for the POW-MIA families in Indiana.
Chancellor has been involved in the renovation of many veterans’ memorials in Northwest Indiana. As president of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee, he helped create the black granite walls at Stoney Run County Park which bear the names of 250 men from Lake County killed in Vietnam and the nine listed as missing in action.
As part of his own healing, Chancellor designed the Vietnam Veterans Ring in 1982 that features a black map of Vietnam with a cubic zirconium at the area where the veterans served. At Bob Hope’s request, Chancellor presented the ring to the comedian in 1988 at the Star Plaza Theatre. The late Gen. Williams Westmoreland wore this ring as does Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Lee Davis.
“(This is) A ring to be worn silently to communicate with other combat veterans on sight. The rings stand for ‘I know, I understand, and I care.’ I know about war because I’ve been there. I understand what you might be going through, and I care,” Chancellor said.
After 9/11, Chancellor returned to jewelry design and created the American’s Veterans Collection to honor veterans of other combat theaters, including World War II, Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.
More information on the rings and the use of the funds raised can be found at the groups website www.veteranscollection.com/.