Valley leaders push legislation for Hmong Veterans

FRESNO, Calif.

Valley leaders and members of the Hmong community are hoping to raise awareness about legislation intended to honor Hmong veterans for their service during the Vietnam War.

"The Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act is legislation that if passed by the congress, either the House or the Senate version, signed into law by the president, would authorize these soldiers, as a tribute to their contribution to have the full opportunity of burial benefits in America's national cemeteries," Congressman Jim Costa said.

This is not new legislation but the third time a measure like this has been presented to congress.

"We have introduced it in previous congresses, but we are building more momentum and this is the first time that we have had the senate introduce companion legislation. So I think that is a very positive step," Costa said.

Although the bill has picked up support it is also facing challenges. Many Americans aren't aware of the Hmong community or their involvement in Vietnam. Veteran activist Charlie waters says educating the public is key.

"What it's going to take is education. Like anything else you have to expose your idea, why are they entitled to it," veteran activist Charlie Waters said.

Congressman Costa says this legislation would enable the Hmong vets to have full burial rights, but would not give them full veteran's benefits and would only apply to Hmong veterans who are U.S. citizens.

The next step for the Hmong Veterans' Service Recognition Act is to take their case and present it before the Veteran Affairs Committee.

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