WASHINGTON, D.C. — This week, U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) successfully helped pass the bipartisan Korean American VALOR Act in the House of Representatives. This bipartisan legislation will allow thousands of South Korean immigrants who served in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea alongside Americans during the Vietnam War and have since become naturalized U.S. citizens to be eligible for health care services through the Department of Veterans Affairs.
For decades, veterans of Allied Forces from World Wars I and II have been able to enroll in VA healthcare. However, veterans of the Republic of Korea who fought with Americans in the Vietnam War are denied these same benefits. Since these veterans are now U.S. citizens, they receive very limited help from the South Korean government.
Approximately 3,000 Korean American Vietnam War veterans are naturalized citizens.
“Korean American Vietnam War veterans — who have already sacrificed so much — should never struggle to get the care or recognition they earned fighting arm in arm with Americans in Vietnam. No veteran should. That’s why I’ve been fighting for the passage of the VALOR Act for our brave Korean American Vietnam Veterans,” said Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5). “Korean American Vietnam veterans risked and gave their lives to fight with us — hundreds of thousands fought and thousands died. Now, it’s high time we get their backs.”
Last Congress, Gottheimer joined with Korean American Vietnam War veterans and local leaders at Fort Lee VFW Cairola-Barber Post 2342 to push for the VALOR Act to be fully passed out of Congress and signed into law.
More than 300,000 Korean soldiers fought alongside Americans throughout the Vietnam War, and Koreans were the second largest contingent of foreign soldiers defending South Vietnam, behind only the United States. More than 5,000 Korean soldiers were killed and nearly 11,000 were injured during the conflict.