Heck Introduces Bill to Recognize, Compensate Denied Filipino Veterans
WASHINGTON - In conjunction with Las Vegas Denied Filipino Veterans Fairness Day and just a short time after the passing of denied veterans Silverio Cuaresma and Romeo Barreras, Congressman Joe Heck (NV-03) today introduced legislation that would finally allow thousands of denied Filipino veterans of World War II to be recognized and compensated for their service. The bill will "direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to accept certain documents as proof of service in determining the eligibility of an individual to receive amounts from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund." Rep. Heck introduced the legislation during the last Congressional session but since it did not pass it must be reintroduced this year. Congressman Heck has been a champion of the effort to see the denied veterans properly recognized for their military service and given the benefits they earned by fighting for the Allies in World War II throughout his time in the House of Representatives.
"Two weeks ago I attended the funeral of Silverio Cuaresma," Rep. Heck said. "Sadly, this brave veteran passed without ever being fully recognized for his service to the United States during World War II. This bill defines what documents will be accepted as proof of service so that the denied Filipino veterans can live out their days knowing their service did not go unrecognized and their sacrifices were not made in vain. I call on Congress to take up this bill to give our Filipino veterans the recognition they deserve."
H.R. 481 amends the current requirement that veterans applying for compensation under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund be on the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster (commonly known as the Missouri List) and possess certified documentation from the United States Army, to make eligible veterans who:
* appear on the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster or
* have certified documentation from the US Army or Philippine government
On February 18, 1946, President Harry S. Truman signed the Rescission Act of 1946 into law. This law denied Filipino World War II veterans, who served before July 1, 1946, the benefits promised to them five years prior by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. These veterans fought under the direction of U.S. commanders for several years as the conflict against Imperial Japan ensued in the Pacific theater, only to be eventually denied compensation. In 2009, Congress finally acknowledged the dedicated service of these veterans when it established the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. However, since that time, thousands of Filipino-American veterans have had their claims denied on the grounds that they did not possess proper documentation. H.R. 481 directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to accept certain documentation, thus ensuring previously denied veterans will be recognized and compensated for their service to the United States.