State Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey) and Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Marina del Rey) have been chosen as 2011 Legislators of the Year by the Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council.

The council’s Legislator of the Year award is given to legislators who have exhibited exceptional leadership, support and dedication toward veterans, service members and their families.

“We have an obligation to properly address the tremendous challenges our service men and women face after returning home,” said Butler. “Veterans wrestle with unique issues that can lead to homelessness, incarceration or even suicide. I am proud to advocate for services that treat our veterans with the respect and dignity they deserve.”

Butler introduced legislation (Assembly Bill 201) to establish Veterans Courts, which seek to help veterans reclaim stability in their lives. The courts use a combination of judicial monitoring augmented with chemical dependency and mental health treatments as part of a comprehensive plan to ensure veterans get the support they need.

“We applaud Assemblywoman Butler’s commitment, tenacity and willingness to tackle the big issues affecting all veterans and we look forward to a long and productive relationship with her,” said Ken Holybee, the council’s legislative chairman.

Lieu, who serves in the U.S. Air Force Reserves as a lieutenant colonel, carried a resolution as an assemblyman to commemorate 2008 as the 20-year anniversary of the California Vietnam Veterans Memorial. This year, Lieu pursued legislation (Senate Bill 888) to protect the sanctity of the funerals of fallen service members. SB 888 sought to impose time and place restrictions for funeral protests.

The senator is also a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.

“Sen. Lieu has served veterans well in the Assembly and Senate and we look forward to working closely with him in his remaining eight years in the Senate,” said Steve Mackay, president of the veterans’ council.

“Many problems affecting veterans require a long-term commitment and knowledge of the issues and political process to solve, and Sen. Lieu is a legislator we can count on to help achieve these goals.”

The Vietnam Veterans of America, California State Council has over 4,300 members and is the California unit of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

The organization annually names one member of the Assembly and one member of the Senate as Legislator of the Year.

Butler and Lieu will be presented the awards at the veterans organization’s Annual Capitol Legislative Day event March 28 next year.