Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Colonel Wangyee Vang of the Fresno, California, Lao Veterans of America Institute is in Washington, D.C., to urge Members of the U.S. Congress and President Obama to help Lao Hmong Veterans with Benefits ( Photo: Center for Public Analysis--Courtesy Lao Veterans of America Institute )
Members of the U.S. Congress and the Obama Administration in Washington, D.C., have been urged by the Fresno, California-based Lao Veterans of America Institute and others to move forward to honor and grant veterans burial benefits to Lao and Hmong combat veterans who served with U.S. military and clandestine units in the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War.
Washington, D.C., St. Paul, Minnesota and Fresno, California, October 21, 2009
Members of the U.S. Congress and the Administration of U.S. President Obama have been urged to move forward to honor and grant veterans burial benefits to Lao and Hmong combat veterans who served with U.S. military and clandestine units in the Kingdom of Laos during the Vietnam War. The effort
has been spearheaded by a coalition of organizations including the Center for Public Policy Analysis, the Lao Veterans of America Institute, the Lao Veterans of America and others.
“After years of education and advocacy by key members of the Lao and Hmong veterans and the community, Members of the U.S. Congress are now apparently moving forward with potential new legislation that will seek to grant 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 in Washington, D.C. www.centerforpublicpolicyanalysis.org
”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. presszoom.com/print_story_145173.html
Efforts regarding the potential forthcoming legislation have been spearheaded, or supported, by U.S. Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA), George Radanovich (R-CA), U.S. Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), U.S. Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), U.S. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), U.S. Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI), U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), U.S. Congress Delahunt (D-MA), U.S. Congressman Steve Kagen (D-WI) and others.
“We, the Lao Veterans of America Institute, have been vigorously working for the last 10 years to educate Members of the U.S. Congress and the Administration about the urgent need for the Hmong and Lao veterans’ benefits who those combat veterans who were recruited by the American advisors in Laos during the Vietnam War,” said Colonel Wangyee Vang, National President and Founder of the Lao Veterans of America, Inc. (LVAI). 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 Aircrew 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 cover 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 actions. “
From Washington, D.C., Colonel Wangyee Vang continued: “The surviving veterans of the Lao Hmong U.S. secret army deserve to receive many of the benefits that the United States has for its veterans. We have asked for it because we joined the United States as special allies during the covert war in Laos at the time of the Vietnam War. As one former U.S. Congressman mentioned in his statement if it was not for the Lao Hmong’s assistance the United States’ casualties number may not be 58,000 but it will be 275,000. We as Lao and Hmong combat veterans helped serve the America’s national interests in defense of the Kingdom of Laos and the Kingdom of Thailand.”
“Our friend and colleague, the late U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN), who we worked closely with also stated at the Senate on October 17, 2002, that “Hmong soldiers died at ten times the rate of American soldiers in the Vietnam War. Yet, because America's war effort in Laos was covert, the sacrifices and service of the Hmong and Lao veterans is still largely untold. Now we are American citizens and we deserve honor and help, especially with benefits that will help us provide and honorable burial to our Lao and Hmong veterans. We thank to all the many U.S. Congresspersons who are helping us and support our efforts in this matter.” concluded Colonel Wangyee Vang.
The Lao Veterans of America Institute, the Lao Veterans of America, Inc., the Center for Public Policy Analysis, Counterparts 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.
Over the last year, the Lao Veterans of America Institute, Lao Veterans of America, Inc. and CPPA have also hosted and cosponsored events in Fresno, California, Providence, Rhode Island, Arlington, Virginia, and nationally in Washington, D.C. to seek to help honor the 15th anniversary of the publication of “Tragic Mountains: The Hmong, the Americans and the Secret Wars for Laos.” (Indiana University Press) by Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Jane Hamilton-Merritt.
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. www.tragicmountians.org
The event was cosponsored by Indiana University Press.
Center for Public Policy Analysis
Contact: Mr. Juan Lopez or Ms. Maria Gomez
Tele. (202) 543-1444