In 1975, the government of the newly established Socialist Republic of Vietnam arrested thousands of military personnel, public officials, and intellectuals of the former Republic of Vietnam. The government sent them to jungle prisons called re-education camps. For many, the jungle was their grave, and they never returned to their families. The regime 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 and release them from their jungle prisons.
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 (originally 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. We are a non-political, humanitarian organization.
December 2006 welcomed a new chapter in the life of the Foundation as The Returning Casualty initiative began to take shape. Through this project, we hope to bring closure and peace of mind to the many Vietnamese Americans who lost their relatives in the post-war reeducation camps, while honoring those who were persecuted in jungle camps and at home for their ideals and died for the future of their country. Since December 2007, we have successfully located nearly 300 reeducation camp graves, and helped 68 families collect the remains of their loved ones.