Washington, D.C. – Last night, President Obama signed into law H.R. 588, the Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act of 2013. The bipartisan bill was authored by Congressman Don Young (R-AK) and co-sponsored by Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and 38 other members of Congress. The law corrects a problem with the original legislation that authorized the construction of the Education Center at The Wall, and will make it possible for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund (VVMF) to acknowledge donor contributions by displaying, inside the facility, appropriate statements or credits acknowledging major contributions.
VVMF's president and founder, Jan C. Scruggs said, "Major donors who want to see the Education Center built have been patiently waiting for this correction. Now, the millions of future visitors will see the names of the corporate and individual sponsors who have made substantial commitments to honoring all who have served and those who have sacrificed. We are grateful for the support of the bill’s author and co-sponsors in the House, and appreciative of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, as well as Senators Ron Wyden and Lisa Murkowski who saw this through."
The 108th Congress authorized the Education Center in 2003. The original legislation mandated that the Education Center be privately funded, but included a restriction on donor recognition. This prohibition severely inhibited fundraising efforts among some of the potentially most generous donors. Recognizing donors in meaningful ways is an effective means of cultivating stronger relationships that may lead to additional, larger gifts, and stronger personal engagement. Some potential donors over the years have delayed giving donations because of this issue. H.R. 588 has removed that prohibition, while respecting the inviolability of the National Mall.
"The Vietnam Veterans Donor Acknowledgement Act levels the playing field for the Education Center, by allowing the same protocol for the philanthropic gifts as with other park sites," said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). "Americans believe in giving credit where credit is due, and this bill allows respectful acknowledgement to those who have contributed."
The bill allows short, discrete, and unobtrusive acknowledgments or credits; does not permit any advertising slogans or company logos; and complies with National Park Service (NPS) guidelines for indoor donor recognition.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources said, “The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund has worked tirelessly to raise the money needed to build a center to educate the public about the Vietnam War – and they’ve done it without federal dollars. This bill makes good on a promise made a decade ago and allows the VVMF to get the center up and running.”
Scruggs continued, "The campaign to build the Education Center is now ready to move forward. Vigorous fundraising activities will continue, and now we can ensure that generous donations will be properly recognized. Time is of the essence, because the Education Center will honor all who served, including those serving today in Afghanistan."