WASHINGTON, D.C. - Alaskan Congressman Don Young today reintroduced H.R. 588, the Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act. Last November, Congressman Young, as an honorary member of the groundbreaking committee, joined Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and others in breaking ground for The Education Center at the Wall at the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial. The legislation introduced today would allow for the acknowledgement of donor contributions inside the Education Center at the Wall.
“Today I introduced a bill to help veterans, at no cost to the American taxpayer, all by solving one simple problem. My bill simply permits the public recognition of contributors who donate money to help build this Education Center at The Wall,” Rep. Young said. “Every American understands that it is common sense to allow donors to be recognized and it is ridiculous to delay the construction of this center because of a nonsensical government regulation.”
"The original authorizing legislation stipulates that not a penny of Federal funds can be used to build the Education Center," says Jan C. Scruggs, President and Founder of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF). "As the law currently stands, it is also nearly impossible for us to secure private donations for the Center. This is handicapping our efforts to raise the money to build the Center and have it completed in time to welcome home soldiers from Afghanistan."
Scruggs adds, "H.R. 588 will simply allow VVMF to publicly recognize donors to the Education Center in manner consistent with existing National Park Service guidelines on donor recognition. H.R. 588 will not cost a dime of federal money, but will allow VVMF to raise money for this special place that will honor our military and also produce a perpetual source of revenue for the Mall."
Every year, millions of people from across the country visit the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial on the Washington Mall, and many of these visitors no longer fully understand the context and importance of the memorial. The Education Center at the Wall will tell interactive stories and pay tribute to American service members lost in the Vietnam War and will serve as a memorial for veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, until they are able to get one of their own.