Military veterans have been honored this week for defending our country. But, there are some Wisconsinites who feel they are not getting the recognition they deserve.
Tens of thousands of Hmong secretly fought alongside U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War. Although they worked with the CIA, they were never officially recognized as allies. Over the last few decades, many of those former soldiers moved to this country. Naotou Lor is one of them. He's the president of the Wisconsin Lao Veterans of America. He says some of the 800 Hmong veterans in Wisconsin are saddened because they're not getting the thanks and the benefits they feel they deserve, such as health insurance. “The disappointment and that sorrow ultimately lead to depression leading to many other mental health and that resulting in heart disease, blood pressure, gout, you name it,” he says.
Some lawmakers are working to get Hmong veterans the recognition and benefits they seek. Congressman Ron Kind of La Crosse is working with a coalition of House members to help achieve those goals. He says it’s been a tough sell, but Kind says the coalition isn’t giving up, “I think more work needs to be done. In that regard, but you can imagine granting vet status to those who weren’t originally U.S. soldiers the time they served is an obstacle.”
While Hmong veterans aren't officially recognized by the federal government, they are marching along with their fellow veterans in parades through Wisconsin.