Left to right: Ralph Donais, Rep. Bruce Anderson, Rep. Bob Dettmer and members of the SGU Veterans and Families. (Photo by J. Lee)
By J. Lee
ST. PAUL (April 27, 2012) — Chief author Representative Bob Dettmer sponsored two bills to aid the Hmong and Lao veterans in obtaining burial rights guaranteed to other veterans.
House File 2260 is a Resolution to Congress, the President and the legislatures of other states to recognize the contributions of these veterans in fighting for American freedom and democracy and saving the lives of U.S. soldiers; and House File 2261 permits burial rights providing the veterans respect, dignity and honor.
Because the Hmong and Lao veterans were part of America’s “Secret War in Laos” conducted by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), they have not been properly recognized and have been kept from receiving benefits and rights of other veterans.
Recruited and trained to fight as American soldiers, the Hmong and Lao veterans helped the U.S. at great personal sacrifice. When the U.S. pulled out of Laos, many Hmong and Lao veterans who were left behind were held hostage, tortured, sent to concentration camps, and killed. As American soldiers and American citizens, Capt. Tschang said they “paid the price to be here” and now seek to “rest in honor with their deceased brothers.”
Among the testifies support HF 2260 and HF 2261 were, SGU Veterans & Families Development Chair Chue Chue Tschang, Zachor Lee, Sia Lo, Military Action Group Chair Ralph Donais, Michael Yang, Jean Lee, President/Exec. Dir.of Children’s Hope Intl/R & R Family Ctrs & APAHC-the Asian Pacific American Housing Consortium.
The federal government must first approve and fund the use of federal and state cemeteries for the Hmong and Lao veterans before Minnesota can conduct a burial. H.F 2260 and HF 2261 helps the process along. However both bills are stalled in the Minnesota House awaiting a hearing for passage. The community and organizations are urged to contact their legislators to help get the bills heard and passed. Speaker of the House Kurt Zellers and Majority Leader Matt Dean are key legislators on whether the bills are heard or not before session ends Monday April 30.
SGU Veterans and Families of U.S.A. led by President Xang Vang, Lao Veterans of America; Royal Lao Armed Forces with President Khao Insixiengmay; Lao, Hmong, American Coalition Inc. and several other veteran organizations have been working with Congressman Jim DeCosta and others on passage of the federal HR 3192.
Members of Congress from Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Wisconsin and Minnesota’s Congressman Tim Walz have signed on as co-authors. The community is urged to contact Minnesota’s other Congressional members to also sign onto the federal bill.