Legislation Assemblymen Bob Andrzejczak, Daniel Benson and Gilbert “Whip” Wilson sponsored to encourage students to honor and assist veterans and active duty military members was unanimously approved by the full Assembly on Thursday.
The bill (A-4148) would provide an excused absence on Veterans Day for any student who participates in activities for veterans or active duty members. Activities could include attending a ceremony honoring a veteran or active member returning from overseas deployment, or assisting a veteran at a hospital or food shelter.
“Attending a ceremony honoring a veteran or active duty member, or helping a veteran at a hospital or food shelter, has immeasurable educational value,” said Andrzejczak (D-Cape May/Atlantic/Cumberland), who was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and was injured during a deployment to Iraq. “Students can learn tremendously from our veterans and active duty members, all of whom have so much to teach about service to our nation, personal commitment or history, among the many, many possibilities.”
The student would have the absence recorded by the school district as excused upon providing documentation of participation in the activity.
“We should encourage students to participate in community service activities,” said Benson (D-Mercer/Middlesex). “Engaging with veterans and active duty military will provide them with real-life lessons and an insight into valuable experiences that will eventually be a part of America’s history.”
The bill also stipulates that when a school district is making a determination on whether or not a student has a perfect attendance record for the school year, the district may not count as an absence the excused absence that is authorized under this bill.
“Participation in veterans and military-related activities used to be more commonplace when most schools had off for Veterans Day, but with the shift in calendars, more schools are open now,” said Wilson (D-Camden/Gloucester), a U.S. Air Force veteran who served in Vietnam. “These activities can prove invaluable to both the students and the veterans or active duty members they work with so we should be encouraging student participation in anyway we can.”
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.