WASHINGTON – The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs advanced the bipartisan Korean American Vietnam Allies Long Overdue for Relief (VALOR) Act (H.R. 366), sponsored by Ranking Member Mark Takano, on March 29.
This legislation would create a pathway for Korean American veterans of the Vietnam War to access healthcare through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Since 1958, through its Allied Beneficiary Program, VA has been furnishing healthcare services to veterans of any era who served in the armed forces of European nations that were allies of the U.S. during World War I and World War II.
The legislative hearing is the first step in advancing this critical legislation, providing the due attention and scrutiny needed before advancing to a committee markup.
“As ranking member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I introduced the Korean American VALOR Act to provide some measure of long overdue parity for these Vietnam War veterans,” said Rep. Takano (D-Riverside). “They served side-by-side with U.S. troops and have since become U.S. citizens, but they have never been eligible for VA healthcare services.
“Today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day, and it is the 50th anniversary of the date the last combat troops left Vietnam. Let this serve as a call to action for us all. It is far past time for our nation to properly honor the service of Korean American veterans.
“It is the U.S.’s obligation — as a longtime ally of the Republic of Korea and as a beneficiary of these veterans’ sacrifices during the Vietnam War — to ensure they finally receive the same respect and consideration their European counterparts have received for generations. More than 2,800 Korean American veterans do not have access to the VA healthcare system, and my bill would allow these heroes to receive the healthcare benefits that they deserve.
“I am happy to have continued bipartisan support for my legislation, and I look forward to its advancement in the House.”
Approximately 2,800 Korean American Vietnam veterans are naturalized citizens, and the number of surviving veterans continues to dwindle. Despite serving as allies during the Vietnam War, these veterans do not have access to VA healthcare, unlike veterans of any combat era who are from European countries that were allies during World War I and World War II.
Many Korean American veterans suffer from the same complex injuries and illnesses as their U.S.-born counterparts, including post-traumatic stress disorder, physical disability, and the effects of exposure to the toxic defoliant Agent Orange.
Takano’s Korean American VALOR Act would provide a viable pathway to grant these veterans access to VA medical, surgical, and dental treatment, prosthetic appliances, and (in some circumstances) hospital care. It would allow the VA secretary to furnish such care by entering into a reciprocal agreement with the Republic of Korea.
Through this agreement, the Republic of Korea would reimburse the U.S. for care it provides to these veterans. In exchange, the U.S. would reimburse the Republic of Korea for healthcare it provides to veterans of the U.S. armed forces who now reside in Korea.
Takano has championed the Korean American VALOR Act during both the 117th and 118th Congresses.