Laos, Hmong Veterans of Vietnam War Fight For Burial Honors
Washington, D.C. and Fresno, California, October 21, 2011
Center for Public Policy Analysis
The Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI), the Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), and a coalition of Laotian and Hmong-American organizations, joined today to express gratitude and support for the re-introduction of a bill in Congress that would honor Laotian and Hmong veterans by permitting their burial in national veterans cemeteries across the United States. The non-governmental organizations hailed the leadership of U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), and a bipartisan group of Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C., for helping to spearhead the legislation on Capitol Hill that bestows further respect and overdue honor to the Laotian and Hmong-American community for their efforts during the Vietnam War.
“We again sincerely thank U.S. Congressman Jim Costa and seven key Members of Congress for reintroducing critical legislation that honors the Laotian and Hmong veterans of the Vietnam War in Laos,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute, who helped to educate Congress about the plight of Lao Hmong veterans in the United States and Southeast Asia.
“Our Laotian and Hmong veterans courageously served in combat alongside U.S. forces in the secret theatre of operations in Laos alongside U.S. special forces and American intelligence community members, and they should be rightly honored with burial in U.S. national veterans cemeteries alongside their American counterparts,” Colonel Vang stated.
“Hmong veterans served side-by-side with American forces in Vietnam, and these veterans deserve the honor of a final resting place next to their brothers in arms,” stated U.S. Congressman Jim Costa said.
“These veterans defended our American ideals long before any of them called our country home. Extending burial benefits to our Hmong veterans recognizes their sacrifice and honors their patriotic service,” U.S. Representative Costa further stated.
“This important legislation, if passed by the U.S. Congress and enacted, would permit several thousand Laotian and Hmong-American veterans who served in the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War to be buried, or their ashes interred, in veterans cemeteries across the United States,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director for the Washington, D.C.-based CPPA. http://www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
“Commendably, Laotian and Hmong veterans and their family members across America are continuing the fight for burial honors in Washington, D.C. and are educating Members of the U.S. Congress and policymakers about their sacrifices during the Vietnam War in Laos and Southeast Asia,” Smith commented.
In Washington, D.C., over the years, the LVAI, LVA and CPPA have helped to conduct and lead national ceremonies in the U.S. Congress, Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam War Memorial to honor Laotian and Hmong veterans and their refugee families. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100608007501/en/Laos-Hmong-Community-Concludes-National-Memorial-Ceremonies
The new legislation, H.R.3192 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to inter in national cemeteries individuals who supported the United States in Laos during the Vietnam War era in combating invading communist forces from North Vietnam as well as Marxist Pathet Lao guerrillas.
Support for the initiative in Congress have received the support of various historians, scholars and advocates, including prominent Southeast Asia scholar Dr Jane Hamilton-Merritt. http://www.tragicmountains.org
Organizations today hailing the new effort in Congress on behalf of burial honors for Lao Hmong veterans include the LVAI, LVA, CPPA, the United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc. and others.