(Sacramento) -Assemblyman Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) was honored today with a 'Legislator of the Year' award for 2010 by The California State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America at the State Capitol. The ceremony was an important part of the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day event in which several of our country's Vietnam veterans had the privilege to participate.
"Jim has been an unrelenting advocate for our veterans in the State Capitol," said Pete Conaty, Veterans' Governmental Advocate. "Without Jim's support, California veterans would not be receiving the benefits to which they are entitled."
The award was given in recognition of Nielsen's steadfast support of veterans throughout California, and for authoring Assembly Bill 1644, which was signed into law in 2010. The bill allows veterans organizations, such as the Missing in America Project, to go into mortuaries across California in order to locate and identify the unclaimed cremains (cremated remains) of forgotten veterans. Once the cremains have been officially identified, they are honorably interred at a veterans' cemetery.
"Many Legislators here don't wake up in the morning thinking of veterans," stated Nielsen during today's ceremony. "And for this reason we have a hill to climb. I am sure you have climbed many hills before, even under fire."
Nielsen reinforced his support and concern for the welfare of veterans throughout the state. He made a reference to a recent happening in Yuba City where a homeless Vietnam veteran died on the street. "Our challenge must be to make sure this kind of tragedy won't happen again," Nielsen said in his closing remarks.
Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day, AB 717 co-authored by Nielsen was signed into law under Schwarzenegger administration and it requires the Governor of California to annually proclaim it on March 30th. Today was the second year of the whole-day event organized by The California State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America.
The Vietnam Veterans of America was founded in 1978 to promote, support, and advocate on behalf of Vietnam veterans, prepare for the next generation of America's war veterans, and to serve local communities. It is the only national Vietnam veterans' organization congressionally chartered and exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families. Nationwide, it has over 50,000 members. The California State Council, Vietnam Veterans of America has over 4,300 members.