Filipino veterans got $214M from US last year
More than 18,500 Filipino World War II veterans or their family members last year received a total of $214.4 million (about P9.22 billion) in benefits and services from the United States’ Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), according to the US Embassy in Manila.
The embassy furnished the Philippine Daily Inquirer a two-page VA report which said that the benefits included pension payments ($186.5 million); one-time equity compensation payments ($15.07 million); medical services ($10.7 million), and education-related funds ($2.12 million).
This year–the 90th anniversary of VA operations in the Philippines–the US government has allocated $192 million (about P8.25 billion), or $16 million (about P688 million) per month, in disability compensation to approximately 15,000 beneficiaries.
“These monthly payments are in addition to the one-time lump sum payments made to Filipino World War II veterans or their dependents as part of the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Program (FVECP),” the report said.
Since 2009, the VA has released over $221 million in one-time FVECP payments to some 18,530 eligible veterans who served under US command in World War II.
“This exceeds the 18,000 veterans estimated prior to the FVECP benefits becoming law,” the report said.
In 2010, FVECP-related payments totaled $112,841,204 (about P4.85 billion).
On November 11 last year, US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas Jr. cited the “unparalleled service and sacrifice” of both American and Philippine war veterans.
Speaking at Veterans Day rites at the American Cemetery in Taguig City, Thomas said, “We owe our service members and veterans a debt of gratitude.”
“For over two centuries, our countries have produced the finest men and women in uniform. Many are gathered here today and many more have lost their lives in battle. Our veterans are our liberators and our heroes. They are responsible for our freedom and the democracy we cherish,” he said.
Debt to veterans
The envoy emphasized that “our debt to our veterans cannot be repaid with a mere hero’s welcome alone. We must also ensure that our veterans are well taken care of and have opportunities for continuing education and disability and health benefits.”
At the same time, Thomas stressed the need to “honor those who answered the call to service when the US found it necessary to take up arms to defend that which we hold dear. Among them are our service members in Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of conflict and instability, who have chosen to be away from their loved ones in order to preserve our freedom.”
In his remarks, the US diplomat pointed out that the VA “has been in the Philippines since 1922.”
“Our Veterans Affairs office in Manila is the only VA office overseas, a testament to the strong ties and still growing partnership between the US and the Philippines. VA Manila will continue its grant programs to the Philippines’ Veterans Memorial Medical Center as further evidence of our commitment to all Filipino war veterans and their families, our partners in peace,” Thomas said.
VA records show the agency’s grant-in-aid program to the VMMC has amounted to over $6.5 million in the past nine years.
The funds went to the upgrade of the Quezon City hospital’s equipment, including dialysis, ultrasound, fluoroscopy, CT-scan and MRI machines, Gamma X-ray camera, 2D-echocardiogram, cardiac monitors, as well as an eye center, among other things.
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