The state Senate is poised to unanimously approve a bill that would grant high school diplomas to Vietnam-era veterans who dropped out of school to serve.
“This is a small measure of our ability to say thank you for a job well done,” Sen. Carlo Leone, D-Stamford, said Wednesday afternoon.
Senate Bill 386 would permit local boards of education to award honorary diplomas to Vietnam-era veterans who left school before graduation to serve in the armed forces. Lawmakers have already passed legislation allowing World War II and Korean-era veterans to receive such diplomas; this bill would simply add those who served during the Vietnam era to the list.
The bill was placed on the Senate consent calendar; action on the matter was expected later Wednesday.
Sen. Gary LeBeau, a veteran of the Vietnam era, said he knows some veterans of that war “still feel some bitterness over the way they were treated when they came home.”
LeBeau, D-East Hartford, noted that the war itself was a divisive point in American history. ”We may not have agreed with the war itself…but to say to those men and women, thank you, your lives are valuable, your effort was valuable and that this is one country and we are together in thanking you for your service.”
Sen. John A. Kissel, R-Enfield, sponsored the bill, as well as an earlier measure that granted diplomas to World War II veterans.
“They left school early,”Kissel said. “They went to Vietnam to serve our country. Two years ago, my bill to award diplomas to Korean War vets became state law. I’m hopeful that this new bill will get to the governor’s desk for his signature.”
Before it reaches the governor, the bill will move to the state House of Representatives for consideration.