Costa Continues to Fight for Hmong and Lao American Veterans
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) continued his advocacy for securing Hmong and Lao American veterans recognition and honor for serving alongside American armed forces in the Vietnam War. Taking to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Costa called on his colleagues to support the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act. Costa introduced this bipartisan legislation with Congressman Paul Cook (CA-8) to extend veterans burial benefits in national cemeteries to these Hmong and Lao American veterans.
The CIA covertly trained Hmong men and women in Laos during the Vietnam War, leading them into direct combat in support of U.S. forces as members of the Special Guerrilla Units (SGUs). Countless Hmong lost their lives during this operation, often referred to as “The Secret War.” There are only 5,000 Hmong veterans estimated to still be alive, with thousands living in California’s San Joaquin Valley. The Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act is supported by both the national and San Joaquin Valley chapters of the Lao Veterans of America and the Special Guerrilla Units Veterans & Families Development organization.
Standing next to an image of SGU veterans from the San Joaquin Valley on the House floor this afternoon, Rep. Costa powerfully urged members of the House to “honor these courageous individuals with their choice of being laid to rest next to their brothers-in-arms. It’s the right thing to do.”
Watch Congressman Costa’s Speech to the House of Representatives Here:
Congressmen Costa and Cook have introduced this legislation in previous Congresses, with the bipartisan and bicameral support of the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act currently at an all-time high. Senator Lisa Murkowski (AK) is leading a similar bill in the U.S. Senate, which currently has seven cosponsors, coming from both sides of the aisle. The legislation would not change eligibility for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.