By Byun Duk-kun
WASHINGTON, March 30 (Yonhap) -- A U.S. lawmaker has submitted a bill calling for the provision of healthcare services to former Korean veterans of the Vietnam War who have since become naturalized citizens of the United States, the lawmaker's office said Friday.
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) introduced the Korean American Vietnam Allies Long Overdue for Relief Act or Korean American VALOR Act in January.
"As Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs (VA), I introduced the Korean American VALOR Act to provide some measure of long overdue parity for these Vietnam War veterans," Takano was quoted as saying in a legislation hearing held Wednesday.
"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," Takano added, according to his office.
There currently are some 2,800 former Korean veterans of the Vietnam War who now reside in the U.S. with no access to the VA healthcare system, according to his office.
Rep. Takano insists the proposed benefit for such Korean American veterans is "long overdue," noting former veterans of European nations that were allies of the U.S. during World War I and World War II have been subject to the VA healthcare system since 1958.
"It is the U.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," Takano was quoted as saying.
The U.S. lawmaker had introduced a similar bill in the previous U.S. Congress, which passed the House veterans affairs committee in 2021.
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