Murkowski to Testify on Importance of Honoring Hmong Allies

Senator’s Legislation Gets Spotlighted in Veterans Affairs Committee

ANCHORAGE, AK – Though Senator Lisa Murkowski is regularly the one posing questions towards U.S. Senate committee witnesses, Murkowski herself has been invited to testify tomorrow before the Veterans Affairs Committee about the value and importance of her bill that would give an enduring honor to Hmong covert operations volunteers who came to America’s aid during the Vietnam War – by allowing these veterans to be buried in national cemeteries.

During Vietnam, the CIA conducted covert operations in Laos by utilizing thousands of Hmong volunteers – a minority group persecuted by communists – to perform stealth operations in the “secret war” on the Ho Chi Minh trail by crossing enemy lines to rescue American pilots.  Over 100,000 Hmong lost their lives by the end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.  Murkowski’s legislation would allow surviving Hmong-American veterans the right to be laid to rest beside their brothers-in-arms in national cemeteries.

“Not all American war heroes are Americans.  There are Hmong-Americans that Alaskans encounter everyday who risked their lives in secret for our nation,” said Murkowski.  “These valiant men deserve the same public respect and honor we give the men they served with and rescued. This bill would give the 6,900 Hmong-Americans living today the opportunity to be buried with their brothers-in-arms in national cemeteries, and I appreciate Chairman Sanders and Ranking Member Burr for allowing me to advocate for this vital gesture.”

This would not be the first extension of burial privileges for wartime allies who were not American citizens at the time.  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.

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