Lawmakers push to ensure benefits for Filipino WWII vets

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday unveiled legislation that would help determine whether certain Filipino veterans who served alongside the U.S. military during World War II are eligible for benefits.

The bill — sponsored by Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in the upper chamber and Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in the House — directs the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments to establish a way of verifying if individuals have the necessary service requirements to receive specific Filipino veterans’ compensation.

{mosads}“Many Filipino veterans who served during World War II call Nevada home. Unfortunately, they have yet to receive the benefits they earned and deserve,” Heller said in a statement, adding the legislation “ensures these veterans are treated fairly and with respect.”

An estimated 260,000 Filipino soldiers fought on America’s behalf during the war. Afterward, the Army created the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster of 1948, sometimes called the “Missouri List,” so that those veterans could receive healthcare and other benefits.

The roster was used by the military to confirm those who served alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines. However, since getting on the list was voluntary, it’s possible some veterans were not added or were improperly denied benefits.

“We have heard the stories of how numerous Filipino soldiers were afraid to record their names during World War II for fear the enemy would obtain roster lists and retaliate against them,” Hirono said. “This bill will provide Filipino World War II veterans a process to prove that they indeed served and are eligible for the benefits they’ve been promised.”

Meng said Filipino veterans are “entitled to the same recognition and benefits that all former U.S. service members receive.”

“It is unconscionable that they continue to be denied the benefits they earned for their service to our country,” she said. “We must immediately right this wrong and provide Filipino veterans with the benefits that they have been owed for far too long.”

Tags Dean Heller Mazie Hirono
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