LANSING — Sen. Judy Emmons’ legislation to recognize the sacrifice made by many Vietnam War veterans by allowing them to be awarded high school diplomas was unanimously approved on Tuesday by the Michigan Senate.
“Our veterans sacrifice much in service to America, and many veterans put the defense of liberty before their own education,” said Emmons, R-Sheridan. “I sponsored this bill as a way to thank a generation of men and women for their service in Vietnam. To show our appreciation, this reform would allow schools to award a high school diploma to veterans who served in the Vietnam War instead of completing high school.”
Currently, Michigan allows school boards to award high school diplomas to veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict.
Emmons’ measure, Senate Bill 389, would extend that special recognition to veterans of the Vietnam War, defined as service between Feb. 28, 1961 and May 7, 1975.
“To some people, a diploma may seem like a small thing, but to our veterans and their families it is an important acknowledgement of everything they gave up so that we could remain free,” Emmons said. “Michigan has expressed its gratitude to World War II veterans in this manner since 2001, and I co-sponsored the 2003 measure that extended this tribute to veterans of the Korean War. Now it’s time to include our Vietnam veterans in this recognition.”
Under Emmons’ bill, qualified veterans must have served honorably during the Vietnam Era, must have enlisted in or been drafted into the armed forces before high school graduation and must not have subsequently graduated from high school.
An application form for the diploma would be submitted to the school district the veteran was enrolled in at the time of enlistment and could be completed by the veteran or on his or her behalf by a spouse, sibling, child or grandchild.
SB 389 now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.