Costa Vote Supports Military, Honors Hmong and Lao Veterans

Sep 23, 2021
Press Release

 

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Costa (CA-16) released the following statement after passage of the FY 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), legislation that provides a pay raise for servicemembers, ensures protections for victims of sexual assault, and works to counter extremism in the military. The bill also includes a bipartisan amendment led by Rep. Costa that expands eligibility for internment in national cemeteries to all Hmong and Lao citizens who fought in support of the United States during the Vietnam War.

“This bill invests in what makes America so great, the men and women who serve in uniform, from increasing the pay for those who vow to protect and defend our democracy to honoring the brave individuals who supported us during times of war,” said Rep. Costa “I encourage my colleagues in the Senate to do the right thing; send this bill to the President’s desk right away.”

Rep. Costa’s amendment added his bill, H.R. 2969, the Special Guerrilla Unit Veterans Service Recognition Expansion Act, to the NDAA.  During the Vietnam War, the CIA covertly trained Hmong men and women in Laos to support of U.S. forces. As refugees following the war, thousands of these soldiers and their families resettled across the United States and in California’s San Joaquin Valley. Costa’s legislation gives burial rights to all Hmong and Lao Veterans who fought in the war, an extension of benefits provided in the Hmong Veterans’ Service Recognition Act, which grants burial rights to veterans who fought alongside American soldiers and who became naturalized citizens after 2000.

The NDAA includes historic policy changes that benefit service members and their families, while making investments that allows the United States to confront unprecedented challenges both home and abroad. The legislation:

  • Increases pay by 2.7% for service men and women, increases allowable parental leave, and provides financial assistance for in-home childcare;
  • Reforms how the U.S. military prosecutes sexual assault in the ranks;
  • Prohibits private funds from supporting National Guard deployments across state borders, except for responding to natural disasters;
  • Establishes a centralized office to respond to extremist threats and prevents enlistment for individuals convicted of felony hate crimes;
  • Supports servicemembers seeking access to mental health care and requires a review of suicide prevention response programs at military installations;
  • Authorizes $500 million to support the relocation of Special Immigrant Visa-holders and at-risk Afghans in honor of our commitment to those, who at great risk, supported the U.S. mission in Afghanistan;
  • Ensures oversight of security and humanitarian aid to Nagorno Karabkah.

For a full summary of the FY 2022 NDAA, go here.