Legislature(2019 - 2020)BUTROVICH 205
02/25/2020 03:30 PM STATE AFFAIRS
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HB 56-ESTABLISH HMONG-AMERICAN VETERANS DAY 3:42:23 PM CHAIR REVAK announced the consideration of HOUSE BILL NO. 56, "An Act establishing May 15 of each year as Hmong-American Veterans Day." 3:42:39 PM REPRESENTATIVE GERAN TARR, Alaska State Legislature, Juneau, Alaska, sponsor of HB 56, introduced HB 56 speaking to the following sponsor statement: House Bill 56 recognizes and honors the Hmong veterans who fought alongside the United States during the Vietnam War, by proclaiming that May 15th be recognized throughout the State of Alaska as Hmong- American Veterans Day, for this year and years to come. There are an estimated 260,000 Hmong-Americans living in the United States with an estimated 3,500 Hmong- Americans living in Alaska. Many of these Alaskans are veterans and all have been impacted by the legacy of the Hmong fighting for the United States in the Vietnam War. Beginning in the 1960's, the Central Intelligence Agency began recruiting Hmong people to help U.S. soldiers in the fight against communism. Between 1962 and 1975, about 12,000 Hmong soldiers died fighting against the Laotians. After the US withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, the Lao kingdom was overthrown by the communist party and the Hmong became targets. The Hmong people were displaced and forced to relocate from Laos to Thailand, with some ending up in UN refugee camps. It has been estimated that 30,000 Hmong were killed by the communists while trying to reach refuge in Thailand. All in all, over 100,000 Hmong people died as a result of both the Vietnam and "Secret" Wars. The Hmong people put their faith in the United States government, which promised them citizenship and veteran status after the war. It's taken over fifty years for them to receive the rights they were promised at that time, but still- we must do better. By recognizing May 15th as Hmong-American Veteran's Day, we can celebrate and honor the Hmong who were lost, the sacrifices made to this country, while bringing pride to their families. We ask for your support for HB56, recognizing May 15th as Hmong-American Veterans' Day. REPRESENTATIVE TARR read the following paragraph from a Legislative Research report: The U.S government kept the Secret War in Laos confidential until 1997. On May 15, 1997, the U.S. government publicly acknowledged that it had supported a prolonged air and ground campaign against the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong from Laos, and in honor of the Hmong and other combat veterans from the Secret War, dedicated the Laos Memorial on the grounds of th Arlington National Cemetery. As a result, May 15 has become an historic date for Hmong veterans, since it represents the fist time that the United States government officially and publicly recognized the contributions of these soldiers who fought alongside the Americans during the Vietnam War. She highlighted the letters that are online from people supporting this effort. 3:46:26 PM CHAIR REVAK invited Mr. Lee to provide testimony. 3:46:59 PM PASERT LEE, President and Founder, Hmong Alaska Community, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, stated that he is testifying in support of HB 56 to establish May 15 as Hmong-American Veterans Day. He has celebrated this day for seven years now. He reported that the Hmong volunteered to support the CIA during the Vietnam War in Indochina and 35,000 lost their lives. In conclusion he expressed hope that May 15 would become officially recognized as Hmong-Veterans Day. 3:49:30 PM MAI XIONG, Hmong Alaska Community, Inc., Anchorage, Alaska, stated support for HB 56 establishing May 15 as Hmong-American Veterans Day. The Hmong community has been celebrating May 15 for seven years and would like it to be permanently designated. When the war ended on May 15, 1975, the military left Laos. Many Hmong veterans died during that war. She expressed hope that the bill would be signed into law on May 15. CHAIR REVAK offered his understanding that more Hmong lost their lives in the war than American soldiers. He mentioned that Mr. Lee was wounded several times fighting in support of and saving the lives of American soldiers, and he expressed appreciation for his service and what he does in the community. REPRESENTATIVE TARR thanked him for his service. 3:53:12 PM CHAIR REVAK opened public testimony and after ascertaining no one from the public wished to testify, closed public testimony on HB 56. He noted that the bill has one zero fiscal note from the Department of Administration. He solicited the will of the committee. SENATOR COGHILL commented on the number of days that are celebrated in commemoration of the military which shows that Alaskans honor people who have served their country. 3:54:44 PM SENATOR COGHILL moved to report HB 56, work order 31-LS0338\A, from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note. 3:55:02 PM CHAIR REVAK found no objection and HB 56 was reported from the Senate State Affairs Standing Committee.