WASHINGTON – On Thursday, U.S. Sen Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) joined U.S. Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) in introducing bipartisan legislation—the Hmong Congressional Gold Medal Act—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.
As the Vietnam War spread south and west into Laos, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) recruited and trained Hmong men 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 soldiers in Vietnam.
“I’m happy to lead with Senator Peters to ensure the Hmong people get the recognition they deserve for their dedication to the fight against communism,” Sen. Johnson said. “Wisconsin is proud to be home to so many brave individuals who are dedicated to liberty and freedom and opposed to government tyranny.”
Following the 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 Wisconsin and across the United States. Currently, there are over 327,000 Hmong living in the United States, including approximately 58,000 in Wisconsin.
Sens. Johnson and Peters are joined on this legislation by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).