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Sen. Schatz Proposes Filipino Veterans’ Benefits Legislation

June 4, 2016, 9:00 AM HST (Updated June 5, 2016, 9:00 AM) · 0 Comments
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Maui Now stock photo. June 2016.

Maui Now stock photo. June 2016.

The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2016 was introduced by US. Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), members of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. This legislation would ensure that surviving Filipino veterans are fully eligible for the benefits they earned while serving under the U.S. flag during WWII.

“We have failed Filipino World War II veterans,” said Se. Schatz. “These veterans and their families have waited for decades to receive the compensation that they deserve, and it is simply wrong for our country to deny them the benefits they were promised. Time is running out, and for some, it is already too late. We must act quickly to pass this legislation and fully honor the men and women who served so bravely in a time of war.”

“Filipino veterans put their lives on the line in the defense of US interests in the Pacific during World War II,” said Sen. Murkowski. “It’s about time we treat the Filipino veterans of World War II with the respect their sacrifice entitles and eliminate the arbitrary distinctions in our veterans benefits laws.”

More than 250,000 Filipinos served under the US flag in the Pacific during WWII. As citizens of a US commonwealth during the war, they were promised full veterans benefits for serving in the US Armed Forces.

However, because of the Rescission Act of 1946, most Filipino World War II veterans did not receive benefits they were promised.

Instead, these veterans have lived quietly, often under-recognized and denied the basic veterans recognition they earned.

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The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2016 fulfills the moral obligation of the US to take care of its veterans and their families.

The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2016 eliminates the distinction between the Regular or “Old” Philippine Scouts and the other three groups of veterans—Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces and New Philippine Scouts.

It also allows Filipino veterans’ spouses and children to qualify for the same dependency and indemnity compensation that current U. veterans receive.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) introduced companion legislation in the US House of Representatives with 37 co-sponsors and bipartisan support.

Today, there are an estimated 17,000 living Filipino veterans of World War II, now in their 80s and 90s.

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