FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 20 2015
Bing Cardenas Branigin
NAFFAA Commends Bipartisan Effort on Behalf
of Filipino World War II Veterans
Washington, D.C. – “We are grateful to Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, Sen. Dean Heller and U.S. Rep. Grace Meng for introducing a bill that would ensure that Filipino veterans who fought in World War II receive their rightful benefits,” says NaFFAA National Chairman JT Mallonga. “While more than 18,000 veterans have already received them, there are thousands more whose claims have been denied and are still waiting. That’s mainly because their names were not listed in official rosters maintained by the United States Army.”
Called “The Filipino Veterans Promise Amendment,”the proposed measure would direct the Department of Defense (DOD), in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to “establish a process for determining whether certain individuals meet the necessary service requirements to receive veterans’ benefits and subsequently be verified as a Veteran by the United States Army.”
Following passage of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund in 2009, Filipino veterans residing in the U.S. have each received a lump sum payment of $15,000 while those who live in the Philippines received $9,000. Of the thousands whose claims have been rejected, about 4,200 have appealed. They assert that their rejection was based on unfair procedures established by the U.S. Army in determining service eligibility. These veterans are demanding that the Veterans Administration review their appeals and allow them to present other forms of proof to back up their claims.
According to Sen. Hirono (D-HI), “This bill will provide Filipino World War II veterans a process to prove that they indeed served and are eligible for the benefits they’ve been promised. We must now work to ensure every surviving veteran who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces receives this well-earned benefit.”
Mallonga is calling on the Filipino American community to urge their senators and representatives to vote for the bill. “It is a matter of honor and dignity, for both the U.S. and for our brave soldiers who fought for this country,” Mallonga said.
Reprinted below is a statement by Hirono, Heller and Meng.
HIRONO, HELLER, MENG FIGHT TO ENSURE FILIPINO VETERANS RECEIVE EARNED BENEFITS
Thursday, January 15, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dean Heller (R-NV) joined with Congresswoman Grace Meng in introducing the Filipino Veterans Promise Act, a bipartisan bill that would help all Filipino World War II veterans receive benefits that they earned for their service to the United States. These veterans fought alongside Americans, but were denied veterans’ benefits because they weren’t included on rosters that the United States later used to establish service.
“We have heard the stories of how numerous Filipino soldiers were afraid to record their names during World War II for fear the enemy would obtain roster lists and retaliate against them,” said Senator Mazie K. Hirono. “This bill will provide Filipino World War II veterans a process to prove that they indeed served and are eligible for the benefits they’ve been promised. We must now work to ensure every surviving veteran who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces receives this well-earned benefit.”
“Many Filipino veterans who served during World War II call Nevada home. Unfortunately, they have yet to receive the benefits they earned and deserve. The Filipino Veterans Promise Act helps fulfill America’s promise and ensures these veterans are treated fairly and with respect,” said Senator Heller. “Since my first days in the Senate, I have fought for this legislation because of its importance to the Filipino community. That’s why I take great pride in this bill. I am pleased Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng joined in introducing this piece of bipartisan legislation.”
“Filipino veterans are entitled to the same recognition and benefits that all former U.S. service members receive,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng.“Filipino veterans made huge sacrifices for America during World War II. They fought side by side with U.S. troops and put their lives on the line to preserve and protect our democracy. It is unconscionable that they continue to be denied the benefits they earned for their service to our country. We must immediately right this wrong and provide Filipino veterans with the benefits that they have been owed for far too long. That is why I am sponsoring this important bill, and I urge all my colleagues in both chambers to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”
After World War II, the U.S. Army created the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster of 1948, also known as the “Missouri List,” based on individuals who came forward after the war to receive health care. This list has been used by the military to verify those who served alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines. It is possible that some Filipinos who fought were not added to this list and could be improperly denied benefits.
The Filipino Veterans Promise Amendment would direct the Department of Defense (DOD), in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to establish a process for determining whether certain individuals meet the necessary service requirements to receive veterans’ benefits and subsequently be verified as a Veteran by the United States Army.
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NaFFAA National Office
1322 18th St NW, Washington DC 20036-1803
The National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) is a private, non-profit, non-partisan tax-exempt organization established in 1997 to promote the active participation of Filipino Americans in civic and national affairs. NaFFAA is the largest national affiliation of Filipino American institutions, organizations and individuals. Its thirteen-member regions cover the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, the Marianas Islands, and American Samoa. NaFFAA partners with local affiliate organizations and national coalitions in monitoring legislation and public policy issues affecting Filipino Americans and advocating for issues of common concern.