Earlier this month, a Bill was introduced in the House of Representatives known as the “Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011.”
The Bill, H.R. 210, was introduced by California Representative Jackie Speier “[t]o amend title 38, United States Code, to deem certain service in the organized military forces of the Government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the Philippine Scouts to have been active service for purposes of benefits under programs administered by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs”
The Bill will effectively repeal the Rescission Acts of 1946, which invalidated the service of many Pilipinos who fought alongside Americans against the Japanese during World War II. As a result of the Rescission Acts, Pilipino soldiers were denied benefits that were promised to them by President Roosevelt when they were recruited into the war effort.
Rep. Speier said the bill is “an effort to rid ourselves of our shameful history as it relates to the Filipinos who served with our Armed Forces during World War II on America’s side…”
In 2009, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) approved a one-time lump-sum payment to eligible Pilipino veterans for their service; $15,000 for those who are American citizens and $9,000 for those who are not. In order to receive the money, the veteran himself was required to file the appropriate paperwork to the Department of Veterans Affairs during the eligibility period. Family members of deceased veterans were not eligible to apply posthumously for benefits they would otherwise have received.
By receiving the payment under the ARRA, Veterans also waived all rights to any future payments they would be eligible for. The Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011 would invalidate the “quit claim” provision and make the veterans eligible for other benefits, such as a lifetime monthly pension.
A week prior to the deadline, an estimated 41,000 claims had been filed with the Department of Veterans Affairs, but of these, only 12,600 veterans were found eligible for the payment. More veterans would be made eligible under the new Bill, utilizing all military records during WWII as a reference and not limiting eligibility based on the “Missouri List,” the official record of U.S. Army personnel.