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No effort is too big for Alaska's veterans.
Alaska's congressional delegation proposes amending the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act for about 2,800 Natives who served during the Vietnam conflict to apply for a land allotment.
The amendment, the Alaska Native Veterans Land Allotment Equity Act, is a matter of equitable treatment for Alaska's Native Vietnam veterans.
Some Alaska Native veterans who served during the Vietnam War era weren't able to apply for land allotments under the Native Allotment of 1906 before the process was ended by the passage of ANCSA, according to Sen. Dan Sullivan's office. Congress opened an application period for the Native veterans briefly in 1998, but only those who served from 1969 to 1971 were allowed to apply.
The proposed amendment covers the entire period of the war from 1964 to 1975.
The amendment would increase available land for selection by Native veterans and reduce the restrictions and occupancy requirements that prevented them from realizing their allotments earlier. It directs the Department of the Interior to work with Natives to reach out to veterans and implement the amendment.
This bill corrects an inequity for Native veterans and rightly treats them with the respect all veterans deserve for the personal and professional sacrifices they made to during the Vietnam War.
The Natural Resources Committees of the House and Senate have their respective versions of the bills. If they can make it to floor votes in both bodies, President Trump, with his regard for veterans, is expected to sign the legislation.