San Jose State University photojournalism alumnus and current San Jose Mercury News staff photographer Dai Sugano has recently wrapped up a 15 month long project documenting Hmong refugees.

According to photographer and educator Dr. Dennis Dunleavy’s blog,

“Dai’s work is always from the heart, but hearing his voice and seeing some of the personal pictures made of him with the family he reported on for so long really adds another dimension to the storytelling process.”

(Full disclosure: Dennis is a former teacher at SJSU and an ongoing personal friend and mentor.)

That about sums it up.

The U.S. CIA recruited Hmongs to fight during the Vietnam War. Their efforts were kept out of the public eye and the US officially denied their existence. Subsequently their war became known as ““The Secret War.”” Dai spent nearly two years documenting this truth and bringing it to light. It’’s an inspiring piece that shows the power of an image and gives a voice to those who the US government has decided weren’’t worth listening to.