Today U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act (S. 3530). This bill would establish a process for Filipinos who fought alongside the U.S. military during World War II and have documentation to work with military historians so they can receive proper benefits for their service. Senator Heller released the following statement regarding this legislation:
"The United States must make every effort to ensure that Filipinos who served during World War II are properly recognized for their contributions to our nation. This legislation will provide the opportunity for individuals in the Filipino community to prove their service and obtain the compensation they are owed. Any individual denied veteran benefits should be allowed to have their story heard, especially those in the Filipino community. This bill will ensure that Filipinos who claim veteran status are treated with dignity and respect," said Senator Heller.
The American Coalition for Filipino Veterans and the Filipino-American Veterans and Families of America -- Nevada Chapter have endorsed Heller's Filipino Veterans Fairness Act.
After World War II, the U.S. Army created the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster of 1948, also known as the "Missouri List," based on individuals who came forward after the war to receive healthcare. This list has been used by the military to verify those who served alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines. It is possible that some Filipinos who fought were not added to this list and could be improperly denied benefits.
In July, Senator Heller sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, urging him to work with Filipinos denied veteran benefits. Senator Heller has yet to receive a response from Secretary Panetta and therefore has moved forward by introducing the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act.