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Filipino WWII Veterans Legislation: NAFVE Press Statement

Friends,

So many of you have sent positive vibes and good wishes for the important victory our Filipino WWII veterans won last night (Feb. 13). Our press release about the inclusion of their legislation in the economic stimulus package is below. Don't know if this is the best way to get this around FB, but hopefully you can share this with everyone who has worked on this issue.

Much thanks to everyone who has participated in the movement for equity on their behalf. This is really a moment for the ENTIRE community. We can celebrate a truly Happy Valentine's Day (along with a hearty happy birthday for our veteran, Peping Baclig, in Los Angeles!) and the upcoming February 18th anniversary of the Rescission Act will perhaps for the first time, be a happier occasion.

Although our thoughts are happy now, we know that in many ways, our work is just beginning. We will have to work with our friends in the Administration and the Congress to make sure our veterans get to fully reap the rewards of this victory and navigate bureaucracy and avoid the pitfalls of those who would selfishly reap these rewards in their stead.

At the same time, we must continue the work to completely realize the vision of full equity for our veterans. There will be opportunities to pick up the missing pieces of the equity agenda on their behalf and we will be vigilant to take advantage where we can.

In the meanwhile, thanks again for all your support and help. The veterans could not have made it to this day without you.

Maraming Salamat!/ Many thanks!
Ben de Guzman

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2009
Contact:
Ben de Guzman
www.nafve.org (Web site)
[email protected] (E-mail)

U.S. Congress Passes Filipino WWII Veterans Legislation In Economic Stimulus Package

President Obama expected to sign historic bill days before 63rdanniversary of Rescission Act that first revoked U.S. veteran status for Filipino WWII veterans

Washington, DC- The U.S. Congress today approved HR 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the economic stimulus bill, which includes legislation regarding Filipino World War II veterans. With this vote, the bill is expected to be signed by President Obama on February 16, Presidents’ Day. This is an historic advance for these veterans, who have been fighting for recognition of their service during WWII for over 60 years.

During WWII President Roosevelt called over 200,000 Filipino soldiers into service under the U.S. Armed Forces of the Far East. On February 18, 1946, Congress passed a Rescission Act that revoked these soldiers’ status as U.S. veterans. Of the Filipino soldiers originally called to serve, only 18,000 are alive today. This bill recognizes these veterans’ military service as U.S. veterans, and additionally provides one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipino American veterans residing in the U.S. or in the Philippines, and $9,000 to veterans who are Philippine citizens. It also contains a provision for spouses and protects eligibility for benefits currently received by veterans.

The inclusion of the authorizing language in effect allows the Department of Veterans Affairs to disburse funds that have been appropriated for this purpose through the Filipino WWII Veterans Compensation Fund. As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye included the Filipino WWII Veterans legislation in the stimulus package.
NAFVE members and Filipino American community leaders from around the country weighed in on this historic vote:

“Since NAFVE’s inception as a coalition of the major groups working on this issue, we’ve always been fighting for full equity as a matter of honor and principle, but this legislation is an important victory and helps correct the grievous mistake committed by the Congress,” says Ben de Guzman, NAFVE National Coordinator.

“This historical bill will be signed by the President two days after the 63rd anniversary of the 1946 Rescission Act that originally deprived our veterans their rightful...

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