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Begich Co-Sponsors Bill to Recognize Hmong War Heroes

Bipartisan Bill Would Allow Hmong Vets to be Buried in National Cemeteries

As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and a steadfast advocate for veterans issues, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today welcomed the introduction of the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, a bill he co-sponsored to give Hmong veterans the right to be buried in America’s national cemeteries.

“I work to make sure all veterans get the services and recognition they deserve,” said Begich.  “I co-sponsored an earlier version of this bill last year and am pleased that Senator Lisa Murkowski and I could work with a bipartisan group of our colleagues in the Senate and the House to make sure these brave war heroes get the respect and benefits they deserve.”

The bill will authorize internment in national cemeteries to Hmong veterans and includes burial rights for Hmong veterans who are naturalized citizens and who reside in the U.S. at the time of their death.  The Hmong Veterans’ Naturalization Act of 2000 already recognizes, in public law, the importance of the contributions of Hmong veterans during the Vietnam War. It also established a formal, documented pathway for Hmong veterans to become U.S. citizens as a result of their service.

Thousands of Hmong-Americans were killed or wounded in Laos during the Vietnam War.  Hmong forces helped Americans forces in combat and flight operations, intelligence gathering, and the in the rescue of downed American pilots.

“With no fanfare, these Hmong troops had many unheralded accomplishments fighting for the United States in the most difficult conditions,” said Begich.  “Many a downed U.S. pilot returned to his family only through their efforts.  But for their interdiction on the Ho Chi Minh Trail, many more U.S. service members would have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this great nation.”

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