TRENTON – In an effort to honor South Korean veterans who fought side by side American troops during the Vietnam War, the Senate Military and Veterans Affairs Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Committee Chair Senator Gordon Johnson (D-Bergen) that would amend the definition of veteran and disabled veteran under current State statutes regarding affordable housing occupancy preferences to include South Korean Vietnam War veterans.
“The partnership between South Korea and the United States goes back decades. South Korean veterans of the Vietnam War especially deserve our gratitude,” said Senator Johnson. “By including these heroes in preferences for affordable housing benefits, we can honor the sacrifices they made for democracy and offer support to a distinguished group of seniors. I have heard first-hand from South Korean veterans in my district how necessary this inclusion is, and it is time we fulfill this need.”
Under the bill, S-789, any South Korean military veteran or disabled military veteran who, as determined by the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA); served in the Vietnam War as an ally; and is a citizen and resident of New Jersey; would become eligible for affordable housing occupancy preferences. Disabled veterans would include any South Korean military veteran who has been declared to have a service-connected disability by the South Korean equivalent of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It is estimated that after the Vietnam War, roughly 3,000 South Korean veterans became naturalized citizens of the United States. Of these citizens, around 20% suffer from long-term health effects that directly result from participation in the war.
The provisions of the bill would only apply to housing projects financed by the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency, public housing authorities, county improvement authorities, redevelopment agencies, and the Department of Community and Urban Affairs, when acting as a public housing authority.
The bill advanced out of committee in a 5-0 vote.