CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
On Wednesday, December 7, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 4298, the Vietnam Helicopter Crew Memorial Act, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 4298 was introduced on December 18, 2015, by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV) and was referred to the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, in addition to the Committee on Armed Services.
H.R. 4298 directs the Department of the Army to place a memorial honoring helicopter pilots and crew members who served during the Vietnam era in Arlington National Cemetery.
The Vietnam War was the first in which the United States Military relied heavily on helicopters for transportation and combat. Nearly 5,000 pilots and crew members died while serving. In 2015, the year of the 50th Commemoration of the Vietnam War, the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association (VHPA) submitted a proposal for such memorial to be placed in Arlington National Cemetery (ANC). However, the Secretary of the Army declined the proposal and instead granted the VHPA a tree marker – which has never been used to honor a common sacrifice of this magnitude – citing the necessity of using available land for grave space.
According to the bill’s sponsor, “ANC is a phenomenal and unique national treasure, and this application is a phenomenal and unique memorial request. These casualties account for almost ten percent of the casualties in the ‘Helicopter War’, and that doesn’t just include pilots, that includes crew members, medics, and servicemen from all branches of the Military. A joint sacrifice such as this is worthy of proper recognition, but the process has failed these veterans. A working standard that doesn’t allow a worthy application to make that grade, is a working standard, quite frankly, that needs a little bit of help. While this legislation may not change the process, it would ensure that a group of American heroes, who are more than worthy of a memorial, receive the recognition they deserve. I am proud to support this group of veterans […].”
A Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate is not currently available. However, the legislation indicates the memorial will be privately funded by the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association.
For questions or further information please contact Jake Vreeburg with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1828.