Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today joined Assemblymember Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) at the Twentynine Palms Marine Base to sign AB 717 which establishes an annual "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" on March 30.
"Our Vietnam veterans fought for our freedoms, kept America safe and dedicated their lives to this nation," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "We are forever thankful for their unwavering strength and courage while fighting in the Vietnam War. By signing this legislation we join together to express our gratitude, remember their service and say ‘welcome home.'"
AB 717 encourages all public schools in California to observe "Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day" on March 30 and conduct exercises recognizing the contributions of all those involved in the Vietnam War. The U.S. Census Bureau reports there are 8.2 million Vietnam-era veterans throughout the U.S.
In addition to today's action, the Governor has shown a strong commitment to California's military personnel and veterans. Throughout his administration, the Governor has:
- Led the efforts for groundbreaking on three new veterans' homes in West Los Angeles, Ventura and Lancaster-the largest investment of this kind in state history. Two additional homes are in the planning stages in Redding and Fresno.
- Signed legislation requiring employers to allow the spouse of a service member serving to take up to 10 days of unpaid leave to spend time with their husband or wife while they are home on leave. Additionally, the Governor supported the creation of the Pathway Home Program, which is designed to help veterans and active duty personnel suffering from severe Post Traumatic Stress transition back into civilian life.
- Unveiled the Veterans Network of Care Web site, an innovative Web site connecting veterans, active duty personnel and their families with the social services, medical services, education and employment opportunities available in their local communities and throughout the state.
- Signed AB 2171 by Assemblymember Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) which begins the process towards the construction of the Purple Heart Memorial in State Capitol Park.
- Authorized the creation of the California Gold Star Family License Plate by signing SB 1455 by Senator Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto). This legislation paves the way for families who have lost loved ones in current and prior wars to obtain license plates honoring the sacrifices their families have endured.
- Signed SB 1572 by Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) which placed The Veterans Bond Act of 2008 on the November 2008 Ballot and asked voters to approve $900 million in Veterans General Obligation Bonds, which allows the California Department of Veterans Affairs to fund the purchase of homes and farms for veterans under the CalVet Home Loan Program. The bond act will have no impact on the state's General Fund because veterans repay the bond costs through low-interest mortgages.
- Proposed expanding employment opportunities for veterans in his 2008 State of the State Address and in September of that year signed AB 3065 which gives veterans of all military branches greater access to civil service jobs.
- Proposed an initiative to open employment avenues for veterans which allows California's Department of Veterans Affairs, Employment Development Department and Labor and Workforce Development Agency partnered with several service organizations to provide regional job and resource fairs to match veterans with employers known as "Honor a Hero, Hire a Vet." There have been 18 events throughout the state over the past two years.
- Created The Troops To College Taskforce To Make California's Colleges And Universities More Military Friendly. UC, CSU, CCC and California's military leaders are partnering with the state to coordinate efforts in assisting veterans and active duty military and their families in attaining higher education opportunities and goals. Signed legislation to protect service members and their families from predatory and deceptive lending practices and unlawful financial and investment schemes. Signed SB 1680 by Senator Mark Wyland (R-Carlsbad) which allows California Community Colleges and the California State University, and encourages the University of California, to coordinate services for students who are veterans or members of the military by designating Military and Veterans Offices to provide specified services.
- Announced the California National Guard Education Assistance Program, a new program he made sure was part of the state budget that will provide financial assistance for California's National Guard members to get a college education.