It wasn’t the entrepreneurial spirit that motivated Jim Chancellor of Hobart. Nor was it dreams of riches. Chancellor designed The American Veterans Collection ring in 1983 because he wanted veterans to know that they were appreciated. He also wanted to give veterans something to help them maintain the camaraderie they shared during war — an “internal bonding with one another.” Chancellor entered into the Army in 1969 and was shot down in his helicopter during a combat assault mission in 1970. He came home to Gary that same year. “America hated the war and that hatred filtered down to the warrior, but we weren’t the decision-makers.” Chancellor said. “The war doesn’t always end for those coming home. For some, it begins.” Chancellor said he didn’t struggle with Vietnam, but was concerned for others.
He soon became active in veterans groups and spoke to groups, especially schools, to educate them about warfare. “I hope to influence people over the decisions of the future and make them understand the price of war,” Chancellor said. After years of active work, Chancellor, a real estate investor and long-term member of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Committee of Lake County, designed the ring. Originally called the Vietnam Veterans’ Ring, it sent a silent message to other veterans: I know, I understand, I care. “The ring works on the pride of the past,” Chancellor said. Three years ago, Chancellor changed the name to represent all American veterans, and today the gold ring with an outline silhouette of the country where the veteran was stationed, and a diamond representing the specific station, is worn by women and men veterans of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam. “I don’t wear jewelry but I haven’t taken this ring off since 1983,” said Tony Eulo of Sussex, Wis. “People notice the ring and it creates conversation which gives me the opportunity to explain my feelings.” John Stacks, superintendent of the Lake County Fairgrounds, said the ring is meaningful. “I like the subtlety of the ring and the bond it creates among veterans,” Stacks said. “I’ve met several veterans by wearing this ring.” Chancellor allows non-vets to buy the ring,without a diamond. He presented the first non-military ring to Bob Hope in 1988, who Chancellor described as a “veteran’s mom and dad, a high school memory, and a reason to keep fighting and caring.” Hope was appreciative. “I’ll be very proud of this ring,” Hope wrote Chancellor. “I’ve had a lot of souvenirs in my lifetime, but this one is a standout.”
Others endorse the ring, as well. In 1984, Gary Porter, then a re-adjustment counselor at Madison Clinic, wrote Chancellor. “The ring you personally designed and now offer to veterans has significant healing power,” Porter wrote. Chancellor has given a ring to Nation Commanders of the VFW. “He’s not in it for a fast buck,” Eulo said. “That’s commitment.” Chancellor, who copyrighted the ring design, has had frequent offers to market the ring. “This isn’t a way to pay my bills,” Chancellor said. “You can only get this ring from me and I’m very protective of it.” The ring is only a measure of Chancellor’s mission to veterans. “I want to talk to schools — anybody who will listen,” he said. “The ring is for the veterans. I don’t blame or justify. I recognize the past and can go forward.” Will Chancellor ever be done? “I’d like to see the government take responsibility and admit that mistakes were made,” Chancellor said. “That would be closure.” As for the rest of the world: “I’d be done if tomorrow’s decision-makers knew the price of war,” Chancellor said. “You can’t measure the results.”