The Hmong During the Vietnam War

The Hmong allied with the Americans to prevent communist forces from reaching South Vietnam through their homeland at the request of CIA agents. Suffering heavy casualties, the Hmong held the same battle lines in place at the start of the war despite an increase from 7,000 to 700,000 enemy troops in the region composed not only of Viet Cong guerillas, but also trained elite and regular North Vietnamese Army battalions armed with the most advanced communist tanks, aircraft, machine guns and artillery of the day. Estimates indicate nearly 2/3 of the Hmong population were killed in the fightingincluding women and children. The Hmong were responsible for the rescue of American pilots shot down behind enemy lines, often losing ten Hmong lives for every one American returned to their families.

Life For The Hmong After Vietnam

Communist reprisals against Hmong for their role in the war after the American withdrawl from the region after 1975 were extremely brutal and unmerciful. Of a pre-war population estimated at 3,000,000 only 200,000 Hmong escapedto other countries, including Australia, France, and particularly America, through the Foreign Allies Act. Many more had to remain in Laos and Thailand. Adapting to American life was not easy, however, as the formerly agrarian, pre-literate Hmong suddenly found themselves facing many new challenges in an industrialized Western society. While many have enjoyed great success within America, many more have not, and face extreme difficulties day to day, ranging from health issues, juvenile delinquency, illiteracy and culture shock, alienation between generations, teen pregnancy, and welfare dependency. A large part of these problems may be attributed to the 1975-1980 U.S.federal government's enforced "scattering policy" in the placement of Indochineserefugees, which attempted to distribute refugees evenly to all urban and ruralareas of the country, but undermined the traditional Hmong social support units and extended family structure that united them as a culture. The primary Hmong communities in America are located in California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

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