US Congress to probe denials of Filipino war veterans’ claims

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A congressional committee on veterans’ affairs will start an investigation to verify why compensation claims of Filipino World War II veterans have been denied by the United States government.

In particular, the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs subcommittee will “look into methods used by the VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) to verify claims submitted by Filipino veterans under FVEC (Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund),” Jeff Miller, House Veterans Affairs committee chair said in a February 17 letter to US Representative Joe Heck.

The probe was ordered in response to Heck’s February 8 request for the House Veterans Affairs committee to urgently look into the denial of as many as 24,000 claims of Filipino veterans as well as the administration of the FVEC.

The FVEC is a $198,000 fund authorized by President Barack Obama in 2008 for distribution as one-time lump sum payments of $15,000 each to Filipino World War II veterans who are US citizens and US residents. Veterans living in the Philippines were allotted $9,000 each.

The VA had turned down 24,000 claims because solders’ names were not on the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO. This roster is what is used by the US government to determine military service, including service given in World War II.

The Filipino veterans claiming compensation, however, had proof of US military service from the Philippine government.

“That’s what I want to get to the bottom of. If there is an individual who already has papers showing proof of service to the military, why are they denied compensation,” Heck told Asian Journal in a telephone interview.

In his letter to Miller, who is representative of Florida’s first district, Heck expressed concern over veterans’ “legitimate claims that may have been unjustly denied” due to inaccurate military service records.

“The incomplete nature of NPRC’s service records is well-documented,” Heck said in his letter.

He mentioned a 1973 fire that destroyed official military files, including a large amount of the US Department of the Army’s records of veterans discharged from 1912 to 1960. This historical data can be found in the NPRC’s own website.

“With such a well-documented data deficiency, it’s reasonable to assume that deserving Filipino veterans were denied their benefits,” Heck said in his letter.

In the Asian Journal interview, Heck said, “We need to move expeditiously because certainly these gentlemen cannot wait any longer,” noting that an average of ten Filipino World War II veterans die every day.

Heck also cited the recent passing of 88-year old Filipino veteran Augusto Oppus whose military service to the US was left uncompensated and unrecognized.

Oppus was one of five Filipino World War II veterans who are residents of Nevada, the third congressional district of which is represented by Heck. Compensation claims of these six former soldiers have been denied by the VA.

Also living in Nevada is the oldest living Filipino veteran in the US, Silverio Cuaresma who will celebrate his 100th birthday in June.

Coincidentally, Heck is expecting results of the congressional probe that month. “We are hoping for a preliminary report by June,” he said in the interview.

In the meantime, the Nevada congressman said he is throwing his support to House Resolution 210. The bill known as the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011, by US Rep. Jackie Spier, directs the VA “to take into account any relevant service documentation, including documentation other than the Missouri List or the list of all discharged and deceased veterans from the 20th century.”

In the meantime, the Nevada congressman said he is throwing his support to House Resolution 210. The bill, known as the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011, directs the VA “to take into account any relevant service documentation, including documentation other than the Missouri List or the list of all discharged and deceased veterans from the 20th century.”

The legislation, filed by US Rep. Jackie Spier, is pending in Congress and has been supported by 88 members of the House of Representatives including Nevada’s three congressional representatives, Shelley Berkley of the first district, Mark Amodei of the second district, and Heck.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas-based Filipino-American Veterans & Families of America-Nevada in a statement lauded Heck’s efforts in assisting Filipino veterans with their issue.

The group’s founding chairman Cesar Elpidio noted how the congressman took to the floor of the House of Representatives twice the past year to give speeches and honor Filipino veterans.

At the same time, the group also lauded Miller for spearheading the probe on the administration of the FVEC.

“We are very pleased at the House VA committee chairman’s interest in this issue as it could impact HR 210, which is pending for a hearing in the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs sub-committee of the VA Committee,” Elpidio said in the statement.

“It is hoped that with any information they come forth with from the (VA) will prove there will be a need for the passage of HR 210 which will recognize all who have proof they served and will allow use of documents from the Philippine Military as evidence of that service,” he added.

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  • INQ_reader

    “..The FVEC is a $198,000 fund authorized by President Barack Obama in 2008
    for distribution as one-time lump sum payments of $15,000 each to
    Filipino World War II veterans who are US citizens and US residents.
    Veterans living in the Philippines were allotted $9,000 each…”

    Heto na ang problema. USD198K lang ang pondo, kaya 22 na Pinoy lang ang kaya noon pondohan. (Syempre, alam ko naman ang typo error ito)

    • sh1seadad

      It was authorized by congress not Barack Obama. One man don’t have this much power in America. Obama just signes it after congress approves it.

      • INQ_reader

        This is out of touch. Pls read the article again, especially the dollar amounts, and see if the total would match the per person.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VCD4ISLSS5WZDRE7XYLCLSXCOI Ryan Chris

    My Grandparent (Lolo) who died 3 years ago. He already filed all necessary papers of claim and submitted all his credentials as Veteran in WWII, that even to the point we traveled him difficultly in Cagayan de Oro City Veteran’s Office because he is old and sick just for the sake he wanted to claim his compensation during WWII. He knew that he will be compensated in FVEC (Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund) because he watched and heard it on the television news. But unluckily, he died 10 months after he filed the claims. His fellow veterans in Camiguin already received their claims 3 months after they filed the same date. He still keep on waiting and longing for it to the last of his breadth,  but all his efforts and dreams are lost and gone. I pity on him. HE DIED IN VAIN. He has 5 childrens and only 3 are living now. His children are all professionals and also his grandchildren too. This may be the greatest gift of all.  We missed you LOLO. May God reward you in heaven. I know you have a greater claims in there.

  • sh1seadad

    NKO

  • palakasantayo

    My brother who is 85 years now was denied by the American VA because his name was not in the Missouri list but on the Phil. VA list, and still collecting the monthly pension. How can they deny the lump sum settlement when the person is actively collecting the monthly pension? This does not jibe… Hopefully, this advocate, congressman Heck and his supporters will come through. I think the $198K is a typo, should be $198M instead.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FCJF33MU3YKIKSJZZ22MOZEFQQ peter r

    It’s sad that these Filipino Citizens feel they should receive money for fighting for their OWN country. The Americans at the time, were recognized I guess as invaders, since the end of the Spanish-American War. The Americans in the 1940s were occupiers of the Philippines. The Japanese attacked and what would you have expected. The Americans gave weapons, etc. to the Filipino Citizens to fight alongside them, against the Japanese. You should be thankful, for that and for the thousands of Americans. That fought for the Philippines, that was not their country. I also don’t understand this abnormal obsession with Filipino Citizens to immigrate to the USA. After the atrocities committed after the Spanish-American War. And also, why on earth would you accept the Catholic Religion that was forced on you by the invading Spanish. That treated you as slaves and killed thousands. You also have an abnormal obsession with plastic surgery to make your noses, like a Spanish nose. Not to mention the buying of skin whitening soap and the swallowing of glutathione capsules to also whiten your skin. Why are you ashamed of your naturally brown skin and “flat” noses ? As a European-American man, as many others, find Filipino women. Attractive for their brown skin, noses and much more so, their genuine, feminine character. When will you put forth a genuine, good faith effort to make your country. A first world country, after how many years, of being a third world country? And having to seek jobs in other countries, just to provide the basics, for your families. To be treated as slaves, physically and emotionally abused, tortured, raped, inadequate food, inhumane living/working conditions and killed with impunity. For for the sake of keeping your corrupt, incompetent and pathetic country from sinking, any further. You immigrate to any and all countries around the world. And in many you become “naturalized” citizens. As in strictly for an economic advantage, never a genuine love or affection, for that country. As it also shows your lack of love and affection for your OWN country. In fighting and dying if necessary, so your children will not have to suffer another generation. Also, at the same time, proclaiming, as a hypocrite, “I’m proud to be a Filipino”. They say, actions speak louder than words.

    P.S. Please be guided accordingly

    • Juan_Sipag

      Your racist and stereotyping comment doesn’t belong in here-You cannot judge a nation and it’s own people by this statement if you never had a chance to experience to live in this country

      • Juan_Sipag

        You better read history ..Philippines was force into war because of US military and strategic interest in the Philippines. ”
        The Japanese attacked and what would you have expected. The Americans gave weapons, etc. to the Filipino Citizens to fight alongside them, against the Japanese. You should be thankful, for that and for the thousands of Americans.” that’s statement ist contrary to history Gen Mcarthur left Philippines and returned only when Japanese was almost about to surrender. It’s the Pilipino guerrilla warfare that fought most against the Japanese invasion along with the Few Americans left behind. Read the history of the Bataan March. That’s the reason why USA recognized the services of these men and women who fought alongside with USA .Better research before you make your racist statement……YOu should be the one to be guided mentally accordingly

    • Juan_Sipag

      You better read history ..Philippines was force into war because of US military and strategic interest in the Philippines. ”
      The Japanese attacked and what would you have expected. The Americans gave weapons, etc. to the Filipino Citizens to fight alongside them, against the Japanese. You should be thankful, for that and for the thousands of Americans.” that’s statement ist contrary to history Gen Mcarthur left Philippines and returned only when Japanese was almost about to surrender. It’s the Pilipino guerrilla warfare that fought most against the Japanese invasion along with the Few Americans left behind. Read the history of the Bataan March. That’s the reason why USA recognized the services of these men and women who fought alongside with USA .Better research before you make your racist statement……YOu should be the one to be guided mentally accordingly

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/A3B5B7CAS25M3OSQSEBXPKDEIU zafirol

       I am sorry but $15,000 ???.  Maybe 20 years ago it means a lot. They could have waited for another 50 years to give it and it would value even less.
      I dont understand this $15,000  per soldier. Can you buy an insurance for that ?

      • sh1seadad

        I understand the 15,000 per soldier it is being pad by taxes of hard working Americans. And the US Government is broke. Money dont grow on trees!

    • goldilock

      Its an obsession, just like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. In all wars, soldiers get compensation either by salt, silver, gold, land, and rights of anything as promised by whatever recruiting entity. Anyone can be proud of anything. If they are proud of what they are then that’s it. They are proud and you can be proud too. Simply freedom.

  • sh1seadad

    My grandpa was 84 when he died. He was in the Philippines during WWII and never got anything from the VA and he was American!

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