Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski on Thursday filed an amendment that would allow Vietnam War-era Hmong covert operations volunteers to be buried in national cemeteries as a gesture of gratitude and honor for their services to the U.S. during the Vietnam War, according to a press release.
The Hmong are an indigenous people whose traditional territory covers mountainous regions of northern Southeast Asia. During the war in Vietnam, the American CIA conducted covert and rescue operations that utilized Hmong volunteers, many of whom had already been involved in other regional conflicts. Thousands of Hmong participated in the U.S. missions, and over 100,000 lost their lives during involvement with the U.S.
After the war ended and U.S. forces left Southeast Asia, persecution of the Hmong, which had long existed, intensified. Many were forced to leave their home countries. Because of the exodus, large, close-knit Hmong communities exist today in California, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Alaska.
The action has been filed as an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill which is currently being considered by the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Murkowski said in the release:
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. 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 Veterans benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000 helped set the precedent for amendments like the one proposed by Sen. Murkowski by establishing burial rights for foreign veterans in the U.S. The Veterans benefits act allowed for Philippine veterans who assisted the U.S in World War II to be laid to rest in national cemeteries.
Read more about Sen. Murkowski's amendment.