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Schatz introduces bill to restore benefits to Filipino veterans

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Celestino Almeda, a Filipino World War II veteran, smiled during an Oct. 25 ceremony at the Emancipation Hall on Capitol Hill in Washington, awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino veterans of World War II. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and fellow senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 on Thursday to restore the U.S. government’s promise to Filipino World War II veterans and ensure those surviving are fully eligible for the benefits they earned.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz and fellow senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 on Thursday to restore the U.S. government’s promise to Filipino World War II veterans and ensure those surviving are fully eligible for the benefits they earned.

The bipartisan legislation was introduced just before Feb. 18, the day that the Rescission Act of 1946 stripped benefits promised to Filipino veterans.

“Our broken promise to Filipino WWII veterans and their families is a stain on our nation’s history,” said Schatz in a press release. “And while we’ve tried to right that wrong, there are still far too many who have not received the basic veterans’ benefits they earned. 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 fought with us and served so bravely when we needed them.”

More than 250,000 Filipinos served under the U.S. flag in the Pacific during the Second World War. As citizens of a U.S. commonwealth during the war, Filipinos were promised full veterans benefits for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces. However, because of the Rescission Act of 1946, most Filipino World War II veterans did not receive these benefits and have been largely under-recognized for their wartime efforts.

There are an estimated 17,000 Filipino veterans of World War II, who are mostly in their 80s and 90s.

The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2018 would fulfill the moral obligation of the U.S. to take care of its veterans and their families.

It would also eliminate the distinction between the “Old” Philippine Scouts and the other three groups of veterans — Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces and New Philippine Scouts. Also, Filipino veterans’ spouses and children would qualify for the same Dependency and Indemnity Compensation that current U.S. veterans receive.

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