Grucela, who did not seek re-election this year, said it was one of the best retirement gifts he could ask for.
"I have worked for many years to see that these veterans receive their high school diplomas," said Grucela, who was first elected in 1998. "It's a high note for me personally to leave on. We talk a lot about the sacrifices members of the military make, and as a former teacher, I understand the significance of a high school diploma, even if a person doesn't need it for their career anymore."
Although the House and Senate passed Grucela's measure back in October s part of an omnibus school code bill. Governor Rendell vetoed the Bill on an unrelated matter, and the legislature voted to override Rendell's veto this week.
"It's been close to 60 years since the Vietnam War began, and the time to give those men and women a high school diploma was well overdue," Grucela said. "A high school diploma is a mile marker in life, and that sense of accomplishment should not be denied because a man or woman served their country."
Grucela explained that some veterans may have felt uncomfortable returning to school at a later age, were injured or ill, or simply needed to work full time to support themselves following the war.
"I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for supporting our Vietnam veterans and putting Pennsylvania among the ranks of the many other states that already have a similar program," he added.
Grucela's measure authorizes school boards to establish a program known as Operation Recognition for Vietnam veterans. The program has been used in the past for World War II and Korean War veterans.
Any honorably discharged veteran who served in the U.S. military in the Vietnam War between Feb. 28, 1961, and May 7, 1975, is eligible for a diploma. The veteran must have attended high school between 1958 and 1975 and have been a member of a graduation class between the years 1961 and 1975, but did not graduate because of entry into the military.
Additionally, a school board is able to award a diploma posthumously to an eligible veteran.