NEWS: House Passes Legislation to Honor Hmong and Laotian Veterans

HB 125 Authorizes a Special Designation on State IDs and Driver’s Licenses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 27, 2017

Juneau – The Alaska House of Representatives passed legislation today to honor Hmong and Laotian soldiers who fought as allies to the United States during the Vietnam War. House Bill 125, sponsored by Representative Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage), authorizes a special designation for Hmong and Laotian veterans on state-issued IDs and driver’s licenses.

“Hmong veterans fought honorably alongside American soldiers during the Vietnam War but some 40 years later their service has not been fully recognized. They were promised veterans status, which has never happened,” said Rep. Tarr, who represents an area of Anchorage with a significant Hmong population. “A special designation on a piece of identification is a small gesture, but it’s a strong symbol of respect to the Hmong and Laotian veterans who settled in Alaska.”

Hmong soldiers were recruited by the CIA in the 1960s to help fight in Vietnam and Laos. After the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam in 1975, the Hmong people were targeted for retribution by the communist party that took over the Lao Kingdom. It’s estimated that over 100,000 Hmong people died as a result of the Vietnam War and the “Secret War” in Southeast Asia.

“This is a very simple bill that won’t cost the State of Alaska anything, but the outpouring of support for the bill from the Hmong people who live in Alaska shows it’s important to them, and it’s important to me,” said Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux (R-Anchorage), who is a co-sponsor of HB 125. “The bravery the Hmong and Laotian veterans showed in supporting the United States should be honored and I am proud to support this bill, which does just that on behalf of the State of Alaska.”

House Bill 125 passed the Alaska House of Representatives today by a vote of 39-1. The bill will now be sent to the Alaska State Senate for consideration.  

For more information, please contact Alaska House Majority Coalition Press Secretary Mike Mason at (907) 444-0889.

###