Aid Filipino WWII vets during their lifetime
Sen. Daniel Akaka is proposing measures to fulfill the needs of Filipino veterans who fought beside U.S. forces in World War II.
SOME of the Filipinos who fought alongside American soldiers to defend the Philippines during World War II were belatedly provided some benefits four years ago. Further legislation is needed to extend those benefits to all Philippine veterans and allow those in the United States to be joined by their children.
In 2003, President Bush signed into law a measure that provides the 7,000 Filipinos living in the U.S., including 2,000 living in Hawaii, with the same federal health care given to American veterans. The 18,000 who remain in the Philippines still are denied those benefits, which were promised by President Franklin D. Roosevelt but rescinded by Congress in 1946.
The proposal, authored by Sen. Daniel Inouye, died in the last session of Congress because of its projected cost -- $150 million over 10 years -- but maintains bipartisan support. That cost will lessen as the veterans, now in their 70s and 80s, dwindle in number.
Congress approved a measure in 1990 that allowed each Filipino veteran in the U.S. to bring one family member into the country, but others must wait as long as 20 years before gaining admission. "We're growing old every day, and we don't know what will happen tomorrow," said veteran Jose Vizconde, 81, of Waianae.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, plans to hold hearings next month to consider his bill to allow prompt admission to all children of Filipino World War II veterans. A similar measure last year was attached to an immigration reform bill that died amid controversy.
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