30 September 2015

Veterans’ Voices 2015

For the week of October 4, 2015

Trista Matascastillo, Program Director of Veterans’ Voices, discusses this year’s awards; we also talk to one of the awardees, Khao Insixiengmay.
Khao Insixiengmay served honorably in the Royal Lao Army in the Vietnam War. He was Colonel of a Special Guerrilla Unit and Commander of Group Mobile 33, a 3,000 member group who secretly served for and were trained by the US government to intercept and interject supplies in Laos. Under Khao’s command, his group participated in the Battle of Khong Sedone, where two North Vietnamese regiments were destroyed.
After the US pulled out of the Vietnam War, Khao worked to evacuate many Lao to the US and Minnesota.
This year, Colonel Khao helped memorialize the sacrifices of Southeast Asian allies during the Vietnam war; a plaque in the Airborne Circle at Fort Snelling Cemetery honors the efforts of Khao’s Royal Lao Army and other Southeast Asian troops. While the plaque recognizes their aid to the US during wartime, Colonel Khao still fights for formal recognition as a veteran from the US government. This November, Khao will travel to Washington DC to speak to members of congress on behalf of the Lao veterans in the United States.

  • Part 1

    Part 1
    (2:20) How Veterans’ Voices Awards started and who the awards honor; (3:37) Matascastillo first started volunteering for the MN Humanities Center; (4:15) Matascastillo’s experience in the military; (5:23) This year’s awardees; (6:20) Why Colonel Khao was nominated this year: (8:25) Colonel Khao is the first Veterans’ Voices awardee to not have formal recognition as a veteran by the US government; (8:58) Colonel Khao’s duties in the Royal Lao Army; (10:50) What Colonel Khao remembers about the war
  • Part 2

    Part 2
    (:22) Why the veterans of the Royal Lao Army are not formally recognized; (1:37) What younger generations of Lao remember about the war; (3:18) Veterans’ Voices seeks to engage people in veteran stories, like Colonel Khao; (5:30) Colonel Khao will travel to Washington DC next month to seek recognition from congress; (7:32) Matascastillo’s work with women veterans and the struggle to gain recognition for women and minority veterans; (9:44) With less than one percent of the US population serving in the military, there is a need for better understanding of the role of veterans in our society