The Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee held a hearing today to consider the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2013 -- only a few months after it was introduced by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act would provide Filipino soldiers who fought for the United States with the same benefits afforded to other veterans who defended our country during World War II. Movement on this issue is critical as many Filipino veterans are in their 90s and passing awaywithout the benefits they deserve.
"It has been more than 50 years, and yet, many Filipino veterans have not been properly recognized for their service and have been denied their basic veterans' rights," said Senator Schatz. "It is critical that we pass this legislation to ensure that the Filipino soldiers who fought for our country -- and their families -- receive full benefits. This bill would finally allow thousands of eligible veterans to receive the compensation that they deserve, and send a clear message to all veterans that Americans will not forget their service once they return from combat."
During World War II, President Roosevelt issued an Executive Order that inducted all military forces of the Philippines under a newly created command called the United States Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE). For the duration of the war, Filipino soldiers fought side-by-side with American soldiers in the Pacific Theatre protecting American military bases and installations. Their valiant efforts directly contributed to American victory in the Pacific.
Currently, the widows and children of Filipino veterans do not qualify for compensation. This bill would also ensure the dependents of World War II Filipino veterans are included as beneficiaries.
A number of organizations have also voiced support for this legislation, including the Military Officers Association of America, the Justice for Filipino American Veterans, the Japanese American Citizens League, the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, and the Lao Veterans of America.