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Vietnam Vets Honor TX Sen. Van de Putte

By J. Lyn Carl,

Austin, TX –

Sen. Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) today was honored by the Vietnam Veterans Association as the recipient of the organization's Legislator of the Year Award.

Representatives of the Austin chapter and the Texas State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America made the presentation on behalf of the 32 chapters in Texas.

The award, they pointed out, is presented annually to one elected city, state or national official who is recognized for their continued advocacy and/or legislative reform on behalf of Vietnam veterans - to ensure veterans' rights are protected and that the next generation of veterans has access to those same rights.

The recipient is nominated locally and then approved by the State Executive Committee. It is the most prestigious award that can be given by the organization to an elected official.

Van de Putte, who chairs the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Installations Committee, authored or sponsored a series of bills that the two Vietnam veteran group officials said have both helped military veterans and their families and strengthened Texas' commitment to its members of the military.

"I am so humbled to accept this award," said Van de Putte. She said during the last two legislative sessions, many of the laws and bills relating to military issues were passed with "overwhelming support" of both the House and Senate "with the cognizance of the sacrifices our military families make every single day."

During the 79th Regular Session, Van de Putte orchestrated a ceremony on the Senate floor that paid tribute to the state's Vietnam veterans. "I'm glad we commemorated the efforts this year of Vietnam veterans," she said, noting that when many of those veterans returned from the war, "they were not given a warm welcome and were treated very, very harshly in some areas of the country." The Senate ceremony, she said, was a way of commemorating their sacrifices. "There are trouble spots all over the world," she said, "but our military forces remain vigilant - particularly in the new war on terrorism. History has shown us there are brave men and women who answer that call. We are grateful for their contributions.

"I will treasure this," Van de Putte said of the award. "This is wonderful."