Honoring Our Commitment to Filipino World War II Veterans

Honoring Our Commitment to Filipino World War II Veterans
by Jackie Speier

Honoring Our Commitment to Filipino World War II Veterans



Tuesday, May 1, 2008

Ms. SPEIER. Madam Speaker, I stand before you this evening to discuss the plight of some 20,000 brave men who defended our country during World War II but have been neglected in their old age. I refer to the Filipino nationals who fought with American soldiers as part of the Recognized Guerilla Forces.

Madam Speaker, the sacrifice and suffering of these brave warriors has been well-documented. Without their support, some say, American forces likely would have been outmanned and outgunned at many of the decisive battles in the Pacific Theater during World War II. But because of an unfair designation set into law, our government treats one class of Filipino veteran differently than another.

In the days and months following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, more than 250,000 Filipino nationals swore allegiance to the United States of America with the same oath each of us took when we became Members of this body. They fought side-by-side with our fathers and grandfathers and suffered casualties at a far higher rate than native- born American forces. In return, the Filipino soldiers were promised the same benefits and support as their American counterparts. In fact, in October of 1945, Gen. Omar Bradley, then Administrator of the Veterans Administration, reaffirmed that they would be treated like any other veterans.

But The Rescission Acts of 1946 changed that. As happens all too often in the halls of power, short-sighted political expediency won out over fairness and common decency. Faced with massive war debts, Congress excluded a class of veteran that had no voice and no vote. Since then, piecemeal attempts have been made to rectify the inequities of The Rescission Acts, but time is clearly working against us.

Today, the few Filipino veterans who are still living are in their eighties. Their number is estimated to be at or around 20,000, with 7,000 living in the United States. Many of those veterans reside in my district, which boasts the largest number of Filipino Americans in the nation.

Madam Speaker, I am not asking for special consideration. I am not seeking an earmark or a windfall or a handout. I am simply asking that we, as a nation, honor the promise we made to the brave souls who put their very lives on the line for the sake of America and all it stands for. Let us show our gratitude to the few remaining Filipino World War II veterans and restore the benefits due them and promised to them when they, like all of us here, raised their right hands and swore: I do solemnly swear that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the United States of America.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).