Sacramento, Calif. (August 19, 2010) – The Hmong Veterans Resolution, Assembly House Resolution 33 (HR 33), was successfully passed by the California State Assembly today with a unanimous vote. The 80-0 vote means that the resolution will now be enrolled and sent to the President and U.S. Congress. The resolution also enjoyed wide bipartisan support as 68 Assemblymembers signed on as coauthors.
The resolution, authored by Assemblymember Dave Jones (D-Sacramento), urges the United States Congress to pass – and the President to sign – House Resolution Number 5879, introduced by Congressman Jim Costa (D-Fresno) in July. HR 5879 extends national cemetery burial benefits to Hmong veterans who fought with the United States in Laos during the Vietnam War. Sacramento is home to the second largest Hmong population in California.
“The Hmong fought side-by-side with American soldiers during the Vietnam War, sacrificing their lives for the United States and the values we hold dear,” said Assemblymember Jones. “It is only right that we honor these brave soldiers in the same way we pay tribute to all our veterans, so I am proud to urge the passage of Congressman Costa’s HR 5879 with this resolution.
“The overwhelming support and passage of HR 33 sends a clear and strong message to Congress and the President that we need to recognize these veterans’ contributions and memorialize all those who answered the call of duty and fought for our country,” he added.
During the Vietnam War, the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) ran a covert counterinsurgency operation in Laos that became known as the Secret War. From 1961 to 1975, approximately 40,000 Hmong individuals were recruited by the CIA to join this effort. The Hmong were instrumental in efforts to stop supply convoys along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and in rescue missions to save downed American pilots in Laos.
Following the 1975 communist takeover of Laos, approximately 130,000 Hmong soldiers and their families relocated to the United States as political refugees. Today, according to the 2000 U.S. Census, more than 65,000 Hmong live in California, with the highest concentrations living in Fresno and Sacramento counties.
If HR 5879 passes, approximately 6,900 Hmong veterans – including 1,500 in California – would have the option to receive full United States burial honors. To be eligible for these honors, a Hmong veteran would have to be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States, and his service would be verified by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“We are so grateful for Assemblymember Jones’ leadership on this issue, “ said Dr. Lue Vang, Acting Director for SGU Veterans and Families of the USA. “So many Hmong soldiers fought and died for this country without any sort of acknowledgement. It means so much to the Hmong community that our service may finally be recognized.”