Three decades ago they were the allies of the U.S. Special Forces during the Vietnam conflict. Today they're part of a vibrant community of nearly 4,000 in North Carolina whose numbers increased by more than 900 this summer.
They are the Montagnards — "mountain people" — of Vietnam. The Christian tribal group, according to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, has paid for its support of our country by persecution at home.
Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas, which handles their resettlement, helped 500 of this summer's newcomers find homes, social services support and jobs.
"The newcomers have familiar faces and old Green Beret friends to help them adjust to their new home," said Pat Priest, director of refugee resettlement.
Ten Lutheran congregations are among the 75 sponsoring families and individuals. Forty volunteers help with transportation, English language tutoring and orientation to everyday life. North Carolina is home to the largest population of the tribal people outside Vietnam.
To contribute, send checks noted "Montagnard Resettlement" to Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas, 112 Cox Ave., Raleigh, NC 27605.
© 2013 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers