Filipino World War II Veterans dwindling in US Army roster
By Jose Katigbak STAR Washington
Friday, June 15, 2007
WASHINGTON – Only 18,155 Filipino World War II veterans are still alive out of 260,143 veterans listed in the US Army roster immediately after the war, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy Gaa said.
He said this “accurate count of surviving Filipino World War II veterans” came from the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) which maintains a list of survivors, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) which has a roster of Filipino WWII veterans.
The figure tallies with the US Army roster of Filipino WWII veterans stored at the US Army Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, Gaa said in a press statement.
He said under current US veterans’ affairs procedures and requirements, these 18,155 Filipinos, about a third of whom reside in the United States, will benefit from the equity bills pending before Congress.
A Senate version of the bill (S 57) and a House version (HR 760) seek for Filipino veterans the same pension benefits that their American counterparts receive.
Supporters are pushing for a pension of 0 a month but may be forced to settle for less – because of the enormous medical expenditures for US soldiers coming back from Iraq – in order to get the measures passed.
Gaa conveyed the “accurate count” in letters to Democratic Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Representative Bob Filner of California and Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson.
Akaka is chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and Inouye is a sponsor of the Senate version of the equity bill, while Filner is chairman of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and sponsor of the House version of the bill.