NJ Veterans Who Left High School Early To Fight For Their Country, May Get Diplomas

vets paradeNew Jersey lawmakers want to expand a program that allows war veterans to get their diplomas if they left high school early to fight for their country.┬áThe Assembly approved the measure by a 78-0 vote Thursday and sent it to the Senate, where it has been referred to the education committee. That panel has not yet scheduled a hearing on the bill, which would expand the “Operation Recognition” program. Enacted in 2002, the program awards state-endorsed high school diplomas to World War I and II veterans who attended high school in the Garden State but enlisted in the military before graduating.

If the new measure becomes law, it would allow honorably discharged veterans of the Korean and Vietnam wars to take part in the program.

To be eligible, Korean War veterans would have had to serve between June 23, 1950 and Jan. 31, 1955, while Vietnam veterans would have had to serve between Dec. 31, 1960 and May 7, 1975. And in cases where a deceased service member meets the criteria, their family would be eligible to apply for the diploma.

“So many brave men and women put their lives on hold to defend ours during the Korean and Vietnam wars,” said Assemblyman Jack Conners, a Democrat from Delran who also chairs that chamber’s Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. “Allowing them this small measure of closure is the least we can do to honor their sacrifice.”

Conners is one of the bill’s five primary sponsors, along with Republicans John Amodeo and Vincent J. Polistina, both of Northfield, and Democrats Matthew W. Milam of Cape May Court House and Paul Moriarty of Turnersville.

Sens. Chris Connors, R-Lacey, and Jeff Van Drew, D-Cape May Court House, are sponsoring the measure in that chamber. AP

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