Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California and 22 congressional colleagues today introduced H.R. 2823, the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2019.
When the U.S. came under attack in World War II, 250,000 brave Filipinos volunteered to fight alongside U.S. forces. As American nationals, they were promised all the benefits afforded to U.S. troops. Yet in 1946 Congress inexplicably stripped these benefits from our brave Filipino veterans, overturning President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s commitment.
The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2019 addresses that injustice by giving widows and children of Filipino veterans the same eligibility for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation provided to the families of all other veterans. It would also direct the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to take into account alternative military documentation when determining eligibility, removing a significant hurdle that has kept many deserving dependents from receiving their rightful benefits.
“Congress committed a historic transgression when it reneged on promises made to Filipino veterans who fought valiantly with the United States in WWII,” Rep. Speier said. “This bill would right that wrong and fulfill our commitment to these heroes and their families. The United States has always benefitted from the strength of our allies and coalitions. If we don’t take care of our partners, we may find ourselves alone in the future.”
Though some Filipino veterans received lump sum payments as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, missing official records have hampered the ability of thousands more retirees to receive benefits. The Act would allow veterans to qualify by instead presenting alternative military documentation.
“We must go beyond the Recovery Act payments to ensure all Filipino veterans receive owed benefits for their service to our nation,” Rep. Speier said. “Time is running out to act for these veterans and their loved ones. As of 2017, their average age was 90 and fewer than 15,000 were still alive. The passage of time has only made this situation more dire.”