When we talk about the Vietnam War, we often talk about the draft, protestors, a no-win situation, and veterans’ rights. But something we don’t always give attention to is this question: Who or what is a Vietnam vet? It’s a question that’s haunted thousands of Hmong-Americans, who were trained, armed and paid by the CIA to fight for the U.S. in Vietnam. These soldiers, who hail primarily from Laos, consider themselves vets. But the law prevents them from being buried in national or state veterans’ cemeteries.
A new bill that’s moved through the Minnesota Veterans Service Committee to the Minnesota Government Finance Committee is trying to change that.
Hmong-American Michael Yang is one of the proponents of the bill. His father, John Yang, fought for the U.S. in Vietnam, but when he died in 2006, he was not allowed to be buried in a veterans’ cemetery. And Mark Brunswick is a reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune who’s been following this story.