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Laos, Hmong Veterans' Burial Honors Advanced in Congress

Washington, D.C., November 1, 2011

Key leaders of the Laotian and Hmong-American community have joined with the Center for Public Policy Analysis (CPPA) in Washington, D.C. to seek to honor Lao and Hmong veterans and their families and work to grant the veterans burial rights at U.S. national cemeteries. Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President of the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI) is on Capitol Hill leading a major campaign to educate U.S. policymakers and Members of Congress about the history and plight of Laotian and Hmong veterans of the “U.S. Secret Army” in Laos, who served as allies alongside U.S. covert forces during the Vietnam War.

Over the last two weeks, Laotian and Hmong veterans and their families converged upon the U.S. Congress and delivered letters and petitions of appeal. Thousands of letters were delivered to the U.S. Congress by the LVAI and Lao Veterans of America.

U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), Frank Wolf (R-VA), Jim Langevin (D-RI), Thomas Petri (R-WI), Jim Moran (D-VA), Tim Holden (D-PA) and a bipartisan coalition in the U.S. House of Representatives recently helped to re-introduced legislation, H.R. 3192, to honor Laotian and Hmong veterans and permit their burial at U.S. national veterans’ cemeteries.

“We are here in Washington, D.C., in the U.S. Congress, going door-to-door on behalf of the Laotian and Hmong veterans and Lao Hmong-American community,” said Colonel Vang of the LVAI, a national non-profit organization. “Lao and Hmong veterans deserve to be buried at U.S. national veterans cemeteries to help restore honor to the Lao Hmong-American community and as long overdue recognition for their important sacrifices in support of their defense of the United States and Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War.”

“Today, we are again here on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., with many of our chapters and members from across the United States, to follow-up on Lao and Hmong veterans burial bill and to educate Members of the U.S. Congress in the House and Senate about the ongoing needs of the veterans and their families in the United States,” Colonel Vang said.

Wangyee Vang concluded: “We are fighting to educate and persuade the Congress and policymakers to continue to honor and respect the legacy of our veterans and their refugee families in the United States and Southeast Asia.”

“We want the U.S. Congress to act now to help our veterans,” said Wangmeng Vang, a Lao Hmong special forces combat veteran of the Vietnam War from the Midwest.
H.R.3192 would authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to inter in national cemeteries, by honorary burial or cremation rights, individuals who supported the United States in defending the Royal Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War era.

“ We are, indeed, deeply honored and pleased to join Colonel Wangyee Vang and the Lao Veterans of America Institute (LVAI) as well as the Lao Veterans of America (LVA) and other Lao and Hmong non-profit organizations to participate in this important initiative to further educate U.S. policymakers and Members of Congress about the history and plight of Laotian and Hmong veterans and their refugee families,” said Philip Smith, Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based CPPA.

The CPPA is a non-governmental research organization focused on U.S. national security, foreign policy, human rights and refugee issues.

Smith continued: “The Laotian and Hmong veterans of the ‘U.S. Secret Army’ in Laos, who served as allies alongside U.S. covert forces during the Vietnam War, should be honored at U.S. national veterans cemeteries and permitted interment, with official ceremonial burial or cremation honors .”

“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,” U.S. Congressman Jim Costa stated. “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.”

"These (Laotian and Hmong) veterans fought and bled in our common struggle in Southeast Asia. Extending burial benefits to those who came to the United States following the communist takeover of Laos recognizes their sacrifice and honors their service," stated U.S. Congressman Thomas Petri (R-WI).

Laotian and Hmong community organizations helping to lead recent efforts in Washington, D.C. include the LVAI, LVA, CPPA, United League for Democracy in Laos, Inc., Laos Institute for Democracy, Lao Students Movement for Democracy, Hmong Advance, Inc., Hmong Advancement, Inc., Hmong Students Association and others.



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