Support Grows For Laos, Hmong Veterans Bill in U.S. Congress
"Giving Lao and Hmong veterans burial benefits is a fitting tribute and a distinguishing honor to the men and boys who survived the bloody fighting in the Lao theater of the Vietnam War and came to the U.S. as refugees," said Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt
(Media-Newswire.com) - Washington, D.C., November 3, 2009 - Members of the U.S. House of Representatives, spearheaded by U.S. Congressman James Costa ( D-CA ), George Radanovich ( R-CA ), Devin Nunes ( R-CA ), Dennis Cardoza ( D-CA ), Steve Kagen ( D-WI ), Patrick Kennedy ( D-RI ), Jim Langevin ( D-RI ), Mike Honda ( D-CA ), Frank Wolf ( R-VA ) and others Members of the U.S. Congress, are moving ahead to introduce legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would seek to grant burial benefits to Lao and Hmong veterans who served in defense of the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War. Prominent Laos and Hmong scholars and historians have offered support for the new legislation, including Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Jane Hamilton Merritt.
"Giving Lao and Hmong veterans burial benefits is a fitting tribute and a distinguishing honor to the men and boys who survived the bloody fighting in the Lao theater of the Vietnam War and came to the U.S. as refugees, " said Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt, author of the book “Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans, and the Secret Wars for Laos” ( Indiana University Press ). http://www.tragicmountains.org
"This legislation would honor the sacrifices of former Lao and Hmong soldiers who fought on behalf of the U.S., now living here, by granting them burial rights in national cemeteries. Obtaining these burial rights would be the culmination of several years of work by Lao Veterans of America to receive veterans recognition for their heroism, dedication, and alliance from the Secretary of Veterans Affairs," stated Dr. Hamilton-Merritt, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her human rights work on behalf of Lao and Hmong refugees in Thailand and Laos.
“As you may know, Officers from the CIA's Special Activities Division trained and led Hmong men in Laos and into Vietnam during the war. These indigenous forces numbered in the tens of thousands and they conducted direct missions against the Communist forces and their North Vietnamese supporters, fighting shoulder to shoulder with US soldiers,” said U.S. Congressman Jim Costa ( D-CA ) in a recent letter he sent to Members of Congress seeking support for his forthcoming new legislation.
U.S. Congressman Jim Costa continued: “Since the end of the conflict in Vietnam, thousands of Hmong families have resettled in many areas around the United States, and successfully integrated into American society…” http://www.media-newswire.com/release_1104014.html
Lao veterans of the “U.S. Secret Army” in Laos have mobilized in Washington, D.C. and the U.S. Congress in recent weeks led by the Lao Veterans of America Institute, Lao Veterans of America, Inc., Center for Public Policy Analysis and other organizations. Meetings in the U.S. Congress and events in Washington, D.C. urging support for the veterans were held by Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute. http://www.pr-inside.com/lao-hmong-veterans-bill-spearheaded-in-r1549220.htm
The Lao Veterans of America is the nation’s largest ethnic Lao and Hmong veterans organization representing thousands of Lao and Hmong veterans and their families across the United States.
Colonel Wangyee explained further: “Our Lao Hmong veterans supported the United States’ war effort in Vietnam and Laos, such as interdicting the flow of communist north Vietnam’s troops and war supplies on the Ho Chi Minh trail, rescued American aircrews shot down by North Vietnam Army ( NVA ), guarded the U.S. radar station at the top of Pha Thi mountain, and provided security for U.S. personnel. It is the largest covert war in the American history. From 1961 to 1975, we lost over 35,000 killed in action, over 50,000 wounded, and over 2500 missing in action fighting the invading NVA Army and Communist forces from Vietnam as well as Pathet Lao communist guerillas."
The anticipated, and hoped for, new legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, to seek to honor Lao and Hmong veterans and grant them burial benefits in the United States at National Cemeteries, has been spearheaded, or supported, by U.S. Congressmen Jim Costa ( D-CA ), George Radanovich ( R-CA ), Devin Nunes ( R-CA ), Steve Kagen ( D-WI ), Dennis Cardoza ( D-CA ), Jerry McNerney ( D-CA ), Mike Honda ( D-CA ), Tim Holden ( D-PA ), Frank Wolf ( R-VA ), Jim Langevin ( D-RI ), Dana Rohrabacher ( R-CA ), Patrick Kennedy ( D-RI ), Jim Langevin ( D-RI ), Ron Kind ( D-WI ), Tammy Baldwin ( D-WI ) and others.
“After years of education and advocacy by key leaders in the Lao and Hmong veterans community, Members of the U.S. Congress are moving forward with new legislation that will seek to grant national burial benefits to Lao and Hmong combat veterans who served honorable in combat with U.S. clandestine and military forces during the Vietnam War,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of Center for Public Policy Analysis ( CPPA ) in Washington, D.C. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org http://media-newswire.com/release_1103634.html
”The historic contributions of the Lao and Hmong veterans to U.S. national security during the Vietnam War and the defense of the Kingdom of Laos and the Kingdom of Thailand is important to understand, memorialize and remember, especially in the context of the larger conflict in Vietnam and geostrategic superpower struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War and the Cold War,” said Philip Smith at a National Lao Hmong Veterans Day Recognition Ceremonies in Arlington Cemetery in May of 2008. http://presszoom.com/print_story_145173.html
The Lao Veterans of America Institute, the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Counterparts, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc. and a coalition of organizations hosted annual National Lao Hmong Veterans Recognition Day Ceremonies in May 2009 at Arlington National Cemetery in the Washington, D.C. The events have been held each year since 1994 in Washington, D.C. and nationally to mark the exodus of the Lao Hmong veterans and their refugee families from the Kingdom of Laos when it was captured by the invading North Vietnamese Army and Communist Pathet Lao insurgents. www.media-newswire.com/release_1091987.html
“You Will Never Be Forgotten” reads the inscription of the Lao Veterans of American monument and tree in Arlington National Cemetery dedicated in May of 1997 to honor the Lao and Hmong veterans and their American advisers who defended the Kingdom of Laos from invading North Vietnam Army and Pathet Lao guerillas during the Vietnam War. http://media-newswire.com/release_1103278.html
The highly acclaimed book by Dr. Hamilton-Merritt details the history of the Lao and Hmong veterans of the U.S. Secret War in Laos and the plight of their refugee families. http://www.tragicmountians.org
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