California Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier re-introduces a bill that aims to restore full benefits to Filipino World War II veterans and their families.
These aged war heroes are hoping against hope that this finally gets passed.
Speier is shown here personally delivering the congressional gold medal, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to Filipino WWII veteran and Bataan Death March survivor Amado Ante in 2017.
Speier remains committed to give Filipino World War II veterans the recognition they deserve. This past May, Speier, along with 22 of her congressional colleagues, reintroduced HR 2823, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2019.
It would give the surviving manongs, their widows and children all the benefits of the U.S. veteran, including lifetime monthly pensions.
It also directs the department of veterans affairs to take into account alternative military documentation when determining eligibility, besides the “Missouri list,” which was mostly destroyed by a 1973 fire.
In a statement, Speier cites how 250,000 Filipinos fought for the U.S. in WWII — but were eventually denied benefits by the US government.
Ago Pedalizo of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans — says he is thankful for Speier’s continued leadership and condemns how this fight for equity has been going on for over 70 years,
“This is a clear case of racial discrimination. We’re in an age where we have to reckon the past and we just have to move forward, recognize equal recognition for equal service. The financial part is secondary.”
Pedalizo remains optimistic that speier’s bill will eventually get passed.
Pedalizo continues to be in contact with the veterans and their families and he tells us that they are happy that there may be another chance at receiving their promised benefits and recognition.
“The veterans, their families, the widows, they are upbeat. They are very motivated. They are excited another bill has been re-introduced. Again, if anything though, it’s just the feeling of being recognized as a full American veteran.”
According to Speier’s statement, as of 2017, the average age of a Filipino veteran is 90, and fewer than 15,000 are still alive.