Murkowski Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Honor Hmong “Stealth Heroes”
Senator Seeks to Allow Laos Allies Burial Rights in National Cemeteries
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today continued her effort to honor America’s valuable war-time allies by introducing the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, to allow Hmong Special Guerilla Unit (SGU) members during the Vietnam War a simple and important honor: to be buried in national cemeteries in recognition of their service to the United States.
“Hmong-Americans who fought and risked their lives in secret for America deserve the same public respect and honor we give the men they served with and rescued,” said Murkowski. “There are thousands of these Hmong stealth heroes living in the United States now, and this bill would give them the opportunity to be buried with their brothers-in-arms in national cemeteries.”
The bill is being co-sponsored by Senators Mark Begich (D-AK), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
Background: During the Vietnam War, the CIA conducted covert operations in Laos utilizing thousands of Hmong volunteers – a minority group persecuted by communists in their home country – who conducted stealth operations and crossed enemy lines to save pilots downed by Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire. Over 35,000 (of 100,000 total) Hmong lost their lives in connection to U.S. involvement in Vietnam. This bill differs from previous Murkowski efforts by tying eligibility to naturalized Hmong-Americans currently residing in the U.S. In terms of precedent, the Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 permitted Philippine veterans who helped America’s cause in World War II to be buried in national cemeteries.