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Speech: Vietnam Veterans Day Bill Signing

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Thank you, Senate President Huggins. Special guests and Vietnam combat veterans - Former Rep. Bill Thomas, Rep. Bob Lynn, Rep. Bob Herron.

Thank you, Speaker Chenault for hosting this event today.

The Vietnam War certainly tested our nation. It tested our presidents -- Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.

It shaped how our leaders think about engaging the greatest Armed Forces in the history of the world. It tested our military. It tested our civilians in many different ways.

It set the stage for developing our military into the professional institution we have today.

It helped our nation understand the value of a holistic approach that includes the family of our brave servicemen and women.

We know Vietnam vets were treated poorly when they returned home.

But rather than accept that injustice, each Vietnam veteran took an oath, a collective vow; that grew into a movement: They decided the way they were treated will never again happen to veterans.

Our Vietnam Veterans have been there ever since, fighting for their fellow veterans -- standing for equality. And even more, standing for dignity.

They turned a negative into a positive for our nation. And for their service, and their volunteerism, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

For example, in Alaska, when our Vietnam veterans returned from the war, we were just 14 years from Statehood. There were no VA medical clinics in Alaska.

They fought for them, and because of their efforts, there are now VA clinics in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Wasilla, Kenai, and two years ago, one opened here in Juneau.

Alaska's Vietnam veterans led that charge.

They also pushed to create veterans centers, where those returning from combat can receive counseling, as can their families. And they can receive job counseling, as well.

You guys led that charge. You are the reason those centers exist for our combat veterans returning today, and I am proud to know each and every one of you.

Alaskans thank you for your service and commitment to improving the lives of America's veterans.

The best way to think of our Vietnam veterans is to remember who you are and the legacy you have left -- better treatment for all veterans, freedom for us as a nation, dignity for all of us.

March 29, 1973, is the official withdrawal date of U.S. combat troops from Vietnam.

Thanks to HB 67, we make March 29 Vietnam Veterans Day in Alaska, from this day forth.


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