WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Thom Tillis and his colleagues recently introduced the Hmong Congressional Gold Medal Act, bipartisan legislation to recognize the distinguished service of the Hmong veterans who served alongside American troops in the Vietnam War by awarding them a Congressional Gold Medal.
“The Hmong bravely risked their lives to help our servicemembers during the Vietnam War,” said Senator Tillis. “Today, more than 10,000 Hmong people call North Carolina home, and we are beyond grateful for their patriotic service and cultural contributions to our state. It is my honor to work to pass this bipartisan legislation to recognize Hmong veterans for their heroic actions.”
As the Vietnam War spread south and west into Laos, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited and trained Hmong soldiers to help American troops fight back against the communist North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao. At great risk to the safety of themselves and their families, Hmong soldiers fought the ground war, flew combat missions, gathered intelligence on North Vietnamese troop movements, interrupted the Ho-Chi-Min Supply Trail, and rescued American pilots downed behind enemy lines. The Hmong people suffered heavy casualties, and their soldiers died at a rate ten times as high as that of American servicemembers in Vietnam.
In the aftermath of the Vietnam War, many Hmong were displaced from their villages as they were either bombed or burned down by the North Vietnamese, and over 150,000 Hmong fled Laos when the nation fell to communist forces in 1975. Due to their ties with the American military, many Hmong came to the United States as refugees to start a new life. Over the ensuing decades, Hmong populations and their traditions have become engrained in communities in Michigan and across the United States. Currently, over 327,000 Hmong are living in the United States.