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Senators Baldwin, Moran Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Recognize Role of Southeast Asian Diasporas’ Contribution in Vietnam War

The Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act provides resources for removal of landmines and unexploded ordnances left behind in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) introduced bipartisan legislation to recognize the contributions of the many communities and Diasporas from Southeast Asia who supported and defended the United States Armed Forces during the war in Vietnam. The Legacies of War Recognition and Unexploded Ordnance Removal Act also authorizes funding for the removal of landmines and unexploded ordnances (UXO) and victim support programs for those injured by landmines and other legacies of war.

“Hmong-Americans and other Southeast Asian Diaspora made tremendous sacrifices for the United States during the Vietnam War, and Americans owe them a debt of gratitude for the critical assistance they provided and American lives they undoubtedly saved,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud to work with my Republican colleague to introduce this bill to not only recognize and honor that service, but also take action to help the communities that are still grappling with the deadly consequences of war.”

“The impact of war decades ago in southeast Asia is still being felt to this day,” said Senator Moran. “This bill recognizes the assistance provided to the American military by people of the region and helps remove the dangerous remnants of war, such as unexploded ordnances, left in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos that continue to prevent farmers from cultivating fields and parents from allowing their children to play outside without fear.”

The legislation recognizes the Hmong, Cham, Cambodian, Lu-Mien, Khmu, Lao, Montagnard, and Vietnamese American communities who supported the U.S. during the war in Vietnam. Members of those communities saved thousands of lives by evacuating allied refugees and rescuing United States pilots shot down in enemy-controlled territory. Additionally, they gathered and provided intelligence to the U.S. Armed Forces about enemy troop positions, movement, strength and provided food, shelter, and support.

More than 40 years after the end of the Vietnam War, UXOs dropped over Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam during the Vietnam War continue to cause injuries and casualties. In Laos, much of the country’s land remains littered with tens of millions of small UXOs that have led to the injury or death of more than 50,000 civilians since 1964. In Vietnam, an estimated 800,000 tons of UXOs are left over from the War and have caused more than 38,000 civilian deaths. Cambodia has one of the highest rates of landmine and UXO casualties in the world, with nearly 65,000 Cambodians losing their life or suffering an injury since 1979. This bill authorizes important funding for demining operations and the removal of these landmines and UXOs in Southeast Asia. The funding goes towards working with vetted demining organizations operating in the countries with the host government’s approval.

Wisconsin has the third-highest Hmong population in the country, with the city of Wausau having one of the highest Hmong populations per capita in the United States. Many of the families fled during the Vietnam War and were never able to return.

The legislation is supported by Legacies of War (LoW), The HALO Trust (USA), and Mines Advisory Group (MAG) America, Inc.

Full text of this legislation is available here. A one-pager on this bill is available here.