Hmong Americans make up a very dynamic part of my home and community. Over the past 6 years, I have worked hard to serve the members of the Hmong Community. In the 1960’s, the CIA recruited Hmong soldiers to help the US fight in Vietnam and Laos.
Between 1962 and 1975, about 12,000 Hmong soldiers died fighting against the Laotians. After the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communist party and the Hmong became targets. The Hmong people were displaced and relocated from Laos to Thailand, some even ending up in UN refugee camps. Some of the Hmong people were sent to re-education camps, where most ended up dying. It’s been estimated that 30,000 Hmong were killed by the communists while trying to reach Thailand. Over 100,000 Hmong people died as a result of both the Vietnam and the “Secret War.”
The Hmong soldiers who fought alongside U.S. soldiers were promised veteran status. Unfortunately, the federal government has been slow in honoring its commitment to these Hmong veterans. But some of the things set forth below that I have worked to accomplish bring these veterans a small bit closer to the status that they were promised.
Creating Hmong-American Veterans Day In 2013, I introduced HCR 4 which established May 15th as Hmong American Veterans Day. During the Vietnam War around 30,000 Hmong warriors were killed while fighting alongside American forces. They served with brave and honorable distinction and perhaps the best way to think about it is that for “Every (Hmong) that died, that was an American back home that didn’t die…” Edgar Buell, Senior US Aid/CIA official working with the Hmong army. There are many hundreds of these courageous veterans living in Alaska and their sacrifice has never been properly recognized. Establishing May 15 as the official Hmong-American Veterans Day is the least we could do.
Hmong and Lao Veterans License Plates I co-sponsored this legislation to provide Hmong and Lao Veterans the ability to get veterans license plates. I believe that our Hmong Veterans should have access to all the same rights that any other Veteran receives. This bill helps in a small way to honor the U.S. government’s commitment to our Hmong veterans.
Hmong Veterans Military Burial Rights I sponsored a resolution to encourage Congress to grant Hmong veterans full military burial rights including the right to petition to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. On March 23, 2018 as part of the Congressional Appropriations Act, the US Congress passed the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, which allows some Hmong and Laotian veterans to be buried at US military cemeteries but does not include burial rights at Arlington National Cemetery. I will continue to fight for Hmong Veterans to receive ALL military benefits due to them, including burial at Arlington.