Veterans Equity Now!! sign now

For over 60 years, Pilipino veterans of World War II have been waiting for their benefits. We congratulate Rep. Speier for her introduction of the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011, and urge the House to unanimously pass this bill to make steps towards justifying their honorable and courageous service in the U.S. Armed Forces.

Background:

Of the soldiers that served in World War II, approximately 200,000-250,000 were Pilipino. Some served in the all-Pilipino Batallions of the US Military, others were part of Philippine Commonwealth troops, but all were in active duty of the U.S. Military. They were thus entitled to full veterans benefits by reason of their active service with our armed force. It is estimated, according to Ago Pedalizo, president of the Justice for Filipino-American Veterans, that there are 50,000 surviving Pilipino veterans today.

For the over 60 years since Pilipino Veterans of WWII served as in the US Military, these veterans have been denied equal access to benefits afforded to all other WWII veterans.

In 1944 the GI Bill of rights was passed which granted full benefits to all that served in World War II, "irrespective of race, color or nationality." However, 2 years later, the Rescission act of 1946 removed Filipino's "active duty" status when it came to any U.S. law concerning rights, privileges, or benefits." This meant that out of the 66 Nationalities/Ethnicities listed under the 1944 GI Bill of Rights, Filipinos who had served bravely and honorably now had no access to healthcare, education loans, home loans, monthly stipends, burial in a national cemetery, etc. In addition, family members of Pilipinos who served in WWII have no rights to posthumous benefits accessible by other US Veterans families. This lack of access continues to this day.

Although there have been considerable gains on this issue, all steps until now have left Pilipino Veterans without equal benefits. For example, when President Barack Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), part of the legislation did provide for a one-time payment for Pilipino Veterans. However, due to strict eligibility periods and unrealistic documentation requirements, only about 30\% of claims from Filipino Veterans were found eligible. Because of this a class action suit was filed in 2010. Even more, Veterans who did receive payment under the ARRA unknowingly waived all rights to future payments, including benefits listed above such as health care, monthly pensions and burial in a national cemetery.

In early January, 2011 Representative Speier from San Mateo/San Francisco District introduced a bill entitled the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act to the US House of Representatives The act, if passed would effectively repeal the Rescission act of 1946, and finally grant our veteranos and their families full access to benefits, albeit 60 years too late.

We, the undersigned, including the Pilipin@ Community at UC Berkeley and others standing in solidarity with our veteranos, congratulate Representative Speier and urge all those in the House of Representatives to vote to pass this bill. We demand equity for all Veterans, now!

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Jackie BairdBy:
SustainabilityIn:
Petition target:
U.S. House of Representatives

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