(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jack Conners and Assemblymen Matthew W. Milam and Paul Moriarty to expand a program that awards diplomas to New Jersey military men and women who went to war prior to graduating has received final legislative approval.

The bill – approved 38-0 Monday by the Senate – would expand the program to Korean and Vietnam war veterans. It was approved by the Assembly in May and now goes to the governor.

The 2002 program, “Operation Recognition,” awards state-endorsed high school diplomas to WWI and WWII veterans who attended high school in New Jersey but enrolled in military service before graduation.

“Because of a sense of patriotism, many high school students in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s did not graduate before shipping off to war,” said Conners (D-Camden/Burlington). “Expanding Operation Recognition to include veterans of the Korean and Vietnam conflicts will finally allow those that did the same during those conflicts to get their diplomas.”

“Many brave men and women from New Jersey put their lives on hold to defend ours nation during the Korean and Vietnam wars,” said Milam (D-Cumberland/Atlantic/Cape May). “Expanding this worthy program is another way of honoring them and thanking them for their service and sacrifice.”

“This is the right thing to for our veterans who put our country before themselves,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “We should have done this a long time ago, but at least we’re now moving in the right direction and doing the moral thing for our veterans.”

Under the bill (A-515), the existing Operation Recognition program would be expanded to include honorably discharged veterans of the Korean conflict who served between June 23, 1950 and January 31, 1955 and honorably discharged veterans of the Vietnam conflict who served between December 31, 1960 and May 7, 1975 who attended high school in the state but left before graduation to serve in the armed forces.

In cases of a deceased service member meeting the criteria, the family of the veteran would be apply for the diploma.

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