In 1975, the Vietnamese government arrested thousands of military personnel, public officials, and intellectuals of the former Republic of Vietnam. The government sent them to brutal jungle prisons called reeducation camps. For many, the jungle was their grave, and they never returned to their families. The Vietnamese government closed the last camp in 1998, but they left behind the casualties in marked and unmarked graves to be overgrown by the jungle. For the families of the casualties, the only way to find closure and peace is to recover the remains of their loved ones, release them from their jungle prisons, and return them to their homes.
The mission of The Returning Casualty is to bring closure and peace to the people who lost relatives in the post-war Vietnamese reeducation camps by helping them locate and recover the remains of their loved ones. Through this process, family members make peace by finally releasing and honoring those who died. The project seeks to relieve the pain and suffering of these unfortunate families, many of whom never knew what became of their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers.
The objectives of The Returning Casualty are twofold:
- To locate and collect the remains of those buried and left behind in the post-war reeducation camps.
- To restore the cemetery formerly known as Bien Hoa (now Binh An) as a final resting place for the former South Vietnamese soldiers and citizens who sacrificed their lives.
To learn more about Bien Hoa, please click here.
In December 1993, Thanh Dac Nguyen, a major in the army of the former Republic of Vietnam and a survivor of the re-education camps, established The Vietnamese American Foundation (also known as the Mutual Assistance Association of HO). He wanted to assist other survivors who came to live in the United States under a humanitarian resettlement program initiated in the early 1980s, and help them transition into their new lives as American citizens. Today, Association chapters are located in other states, Germany, France and Australia, where there exist large Vietnamese expatriate communities.
December 2006 welcomed a new chapter in the life of the Foundation as The Returning Casualty initiative began to take shape. Since December 2007, we have successfully located nearly 300 graves, and helped 68 families collect the remains of their loved ones. We are a non-political, humanitarian organization with the objective of finally bringing these brave men the honor they deserve, while granting their families the peace of mind they need.
Please visit our official website for more information.