One of the joys of my Senate avocation is the ability to meet people and learn about their unique life history.
This evening, I had a number of community events in the Tysons/Vienna area. One of them was a dinner at Woo Lae Oak restaurant in Tysons for the Vietnam Veterans (ROK).
Now I’ve been to several meetings of Vietnam Veterans of America. There’s an active chapter in Vienna. There’s also hundreds of other local Vietnam vets, who belong to our local VFW and Legion posts.
Tonight’s meeting was veterans of the Korean Army which fought in Vietnam from 1965-1969. Nicknamed “the Tiger Division,”‘ these ROK troops fought next to their American and South Vietnamese counterparts. About 320,000 served with “the Tigers” and over 5,000 were killed in action.
Not surprisingly, thousands of these veterans later immigrated to the United States. There are hundreds (at least) living in the D.C. area. In fact, I first learned about “the Tigers” alumni organization from knocking on a door in Mosby Woods (Fairfax City).
A recurring issue is whether “the Tigers” are eligible for veterans’ benefits (there are similar arguments regarding Filipino-American vets who served in the Filipino Army during World War II). There are arguments either way. As long as they’re not double-dipping in benefits from their home nation, there is certainly an argument that they qualify as much as any U.S. veteran.
Anyway, we didn’t solve that issue tonight. But it was an honor to visit my friends and speak at their dinner.