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Senator Wielechowski Recognized as Top Legislator Nationally by Vietnam Veterans of America

ANCHORAGE - Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) has selected Senator Bill Wielechowski, D-East Anchorage, as the “State Legislator of the Year” for 2012.   The award is given only once every two years to one legislator in the entire nation who has exhibited exceptional leadership, support and dedication to veterans, service members and their families.

“I am incredibly honored and humbled by this recognition from Vietnam Veterans of America,” said Senator Wielechowski. “We have an obligation to properly address the tremendous challenges our service men and women face after returning home. I am proud to advocate for services that treat our veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Ric Davidge, President of VVA Chapter 904 and Chairman of VVA’s national Government Affairs Committee, praised Wielechowski's leadership as co-chair of the Joint Armed Services Committee in explaining the selection. "Senator Wielechowski has worked tirelessly to ensure veterans and service members and their families have a voice,” he said. “Through his committee, he has held town hall meetings and listened to military and veterans groups. As a result, he is the best-informed member of our State Legislature on active service and veterans issues.”

VVA also cited several major initiatives sponsored by Senator Wielechowski that have now been enacted into law improving the lives of Alaska’s service members and veterans. Senate Bill 33 respects the wishes of service members killed in the line of duty by allowing them to designate which of their family members will act as next of kin in the tragic event of their death. Senate Bill 136 gives Alaskan businesses income tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans and includes a provision allowing the Division of Motor Vehicles to add “VETERAN” to the front of state driver’s licenses and state ID’s, making them a statewide universal veterans ID.

“Senator Wielechowski and his staff put out a call in advance for any legislative issues veterans or service members would like to have considered. Then we all worked together to outline, craft and prune these items into a group of bills that are defensible as well as politically doable,” said Davidge. “As a result, Bill Wielechowski has taken our ideas, and he has initiated many of the veteran and service member issue-related laws and budget items passed in the last six years in the Alaska State Legislature."

Senator Wielechowski will formally receive the award at the VVA National convention in Jacksonville, Florida in August from the National President and National Board of Directors in front of thousands of Vietnam Veterans.   Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) is the nation's only congressionally chartered non-profit veterans’ service organization dedicated to the needs of Vietnam-era veterans and their families.

For more information, please call Mokie Porter with the Vietnam Veterans of America at (301) 585-4000 or Kendra Kloster in Senator Wielechowski’s office at (907) 269-0120.

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