WAUSAU (WAOW) — Hmong veterans could soon see benefits decades after the Vietnam War.
Currently, they don’t qualify for the same benefits as U.S. veterans. Even though the Vietnam War ended over 40 years ago, veterans of the war are still living with the effects of serving their country.
The Hmong-Lao veterans who entered the U.S. as refugees weren’t given the same treatment as other veterans. However, a new bill proposed on Tuesday is about to change that.
The memories of fighting in the battle field are ingrained in Nao Shoua Xiong’s mind forever.
“I see that and, some nights, I cannot sleep,” said Shoua Xiong.
The sounds of gunfire and images of seeing his brother and father killed in the frontline still haunt him to this day.
Shoua Xiong was 15 when the U.S. recruited him from Loas.
“I joined the army in Vietnam in 1970 as an America CIA under my leaders,” he said.
Shoua Xiong is one of the many Hmong- Lao veterans living in Wisconsin who fought along U.S. troops in the Vietnam War but weren’t deemed official veterans.
“I’m proud to come to this country, but during that time it was very scary,” Shoua Xiong said.
Now, a new bill proposed by Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) would finally give veterans like Shoua Xiong the benefits they deserve.
“It is long overdue, and it is never too late to correctly portray and support our veterans and the special guerrilla unit that the Hmong veterans served in,” Shilling said.
As emotional as it gets thinking about the battlefield, Shoua Xiong is hopeful the future of the bill can make up for it.
“Time is running out for us. Many people passed away that didn’t get to see this,” Shoua Xiong said.
The Wisconsin Legislature will meet next in November, so the bill could be signed as soon as then. The benefits have some eligibility specifications. The dates of service for the veterans are from 2/28/1961 to 5/7/1975.
They would qualify for: