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House OKs Tribute to Vietnam Casualties

May 10, 2000|HOLLY J. WOLCOTT

A bill sponsored by Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-Simi Valley) honoring Vietnam veterans who died from service-related injures, such as exposure to Agent Orange or post-traumatic stress syndrome, won unanimous approval Tuesday.

The bill passed by the House of Representatives will allow a plaque to be placed at the 13-acre Vietnam War Memorial site in Washington.

"It is vital for us as a nation to have hallowed ground to honor all the men and women who served and died for our country," Gallegly said in a written statement Tuesday.

A similar bill has been introduced in the Senate. If that bill is approved, the matter will be forwarded to President Clinton for consideration.

The proposed monument would be between 6 and 18 square feet and be paid for by private funding, officials said. The design would be decided upon by the American Battle Monument Commission, according to Gallegly.

The plaque will not contain the names of fallen veterans, as the war memorial does, said Gallegly spokesman Tom Pfeifer.

"This plaque is meant to fill the gap," Pfeifer said. "It is basically for any family who believes their loved one died as a result of Vietnam."

There are about 35,000 Vietnam veterans who live in Ventura County, but it is unclear how many local residents died from service-related injuries, said Ventura resident Jim Britton, president of the Vietnam Veterans of Ventura County.

Regardless, Britton said the plaque is a great idea.

"I'd personally go to see it if I was in that area," Britton said Tuesday. The local organization is one of about a dozen nationwide that has endorsed creation of the plaque.

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