WASHINGTON & FRESNO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Twenty-three Members of Congress have introduced legislation to honor Laotian and Hmong veterans who served in combat in defense of the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War. The bill aims to grant burial benefits at U.S. National Veterans Cemeteries.
The legislation, H.R. 5879, was introduced yesterday afternoon by U.S. Representatives Jim Costa (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Dennis Cardoza (D-CA), Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), Tim Holden (D-PA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Bill Delahunt (D-MA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Steve Kagen (D-WI), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), Mike Honda (D-CA), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Joesph Cao (R-LA), Collin Peterson (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN) and others.
“If enacted, the legislation would provide full veterans burial benefits in American National Cemeteries to Lao Hmong veterans who served in support of U.S. forces in the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and founder of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI).
Vang has worked to educate Congress over the years about the plight of Laotian and Hmong veterans and their hope to be honored with veterans’ benefits.
“Indeed, today, we are very grateful to U.S. Congressman Costa and his colleagues in the U.S. Congress who have worked so very hard to help to make this legislation a reality and introduce it,” Vang stated.
Mr. Vang concluded: “Our Laotian and Hmong veterans and their refugee families across the United States are honored and deeply grateful for the potential opportunity… to be buried in U.S. National Cemeteries along with the American veterans we helped to defend and save during the Vietnam War; We fought side-by-side with American forces and clandestine troops of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in defense of the Royal Kingdom of Laos and the United States.”
“Our Hmong veterans fought shoulder-to-shoulder with American soldiers during the Vietnam war,” said Congressman Costa. “Many paid the ultimate sacrifice… Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to these patriotic individuals and their service should be honored with burial benefits in our National Cemeteries.”
“Congressman Jim Costa’s bipartisan leadership, along with his colleagues in the U.S. Congress, in support of the Lao and Hmong veterans and their families across America, gives hope and dignity to the plight of the Lao and Hmong community and the veterans who seek to be buried with honor in America’s National Veterans Cemeteries,” said Philip Smith, Director of the Washington, D.C.-based CPPA. http://centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
Mr. Smith also serves as the Washington, D.C. Director and Liaison for the LVA, the nation’s largest Laotian and Hmong veterans’ organization, which dedicated a monument in Arlington to the Lao-Hmong veterans in 1997.
In May, the Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVA), the LVAI, the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA), Counterparts, Inc., Hmong Advance, Inc. and Hmong Advancement, Inc., held national ceremonies and events in the U.S. Congress and Arlington National Cemetery urging policymakers to address the plight of Lao and Hmong veterans and their refugee families.
The policy events on Capitol Hill were followed by a memorial ceremony
at Arlington National Cemetery conducted with the U.S. Department of
Defense and Army to honor Lao and Hmong veterans and their American
advisers who served in Laos during the Vietnam War.
Nearly 7,000 Lao-Hmong veterans will receive burial benefits, if the bill is adopted.