One final lobby! Why?
By Romy Monteyro
On Monday, the 18th of March, this writer and the commander of Commander of the Filipino WWII Veterans Federation of San
Diego County will go to Washington DC to launch our final lobby on behalf of the widows of the Filipino WWII veterans who
were completely left out in the payment of benefits.
The WWII FilVets were finally recognized and rewarded for their wartime services, albeit too little too late, when they
were granted one time lump sum payments under the Economic Recovery Act, otherwise known as the Obama Stimulus Package.
FilVets who are US citizens became entitled to a $15,000 payment, while their non-US citizen counterparts qualified for
a $9,000 dole out. To date, however, many veterans have yet to receive their payments and to some, the long hoped for compensation
came too late when they died before their claims were approved.
But the widows of those FilVets who died before the Economic Recovery Act was signed into law were completely left out.
They too, waited for more than 60 years to receive a little something from Uncle Sam, but after the long wait, they were simply
left holding an empty bag. Justifiably, they are as entitled to compensation as the surviving FilVets since their spouses
also served in the US military during WWII, either as regular soldiers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army or recognized resistance
It is to this end, to obtain some kind of compensation for these hapless widows that Commander Braga
and I are once again going to knock on the doors of US lawmakers in the US Congress to appeal to their sense of fairness.
Aware however, that it is quite difficult, if not downright impossible to convince these lawmakers to lend a sympathetic
ear to the widows' cause if we ask for new money or appropriation, we have come up with an alternative that might just work.
We know only too well that when we ask Congress for money it would be like reaching for the moon. But in our experience,
lobbyist have a better chance of success if no new appropriations are asked of our lawmakers.
Here then is how we're going to try and convince our illustrious legislators in Congress to at least listen to what we
have to say and hope that they act on our proposals favorably:
1. Of the $198 million appropriated for the surviving Filipino WW II veterans, we propose that an amendment be introduced
to use whatever surplus money is left to pay their widows without regard to citizenship or residence.
2. We propose that the law authorizing the payment of 75% of their SSI be increased to 100%, for the FilVets, their US
citizen spouses and US citizen widows, should they choose to return to the Philippines.
3. An amendment to the Medicare law to allow its use in the Philippines not only for the FilVets, their US citizen spouses
and/or widows but also for all US citizen non-military retirees. US military retirees in the Philippines are allowed the use
of TRICARE, so why not Medicare. And since the cost of medical care and medications in the old country is cheaper, this would
be advantageous to the US government because of the considerable amount of savings involved.
4. Finally, we propose an increase of $500,000 to the current $500,000 paid annually by the USVA to the Philippine Veterans
Memorial Medical Center to allow that medical facility to purchase medications for the FilVets. The current $500,000 annual
dole out is strictly for the purchase of medical equipment.
As always, we seek the Divine Intervention of our Almighty God to make this latest endeavor a success, while we seek the
most valuable assistance of our friends in Congress, the long time champions of our FilVets.
Once again, Congressman Bob Filner, the Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee
who authored the Bill that granted the lump sum payments to our FilVets will be at the forefront of this campaign. Congressman
Filner has consistently and indefatigably shepherded all past efforts to recognize the wartime services of the Filipino WWII
Working with Filner, hand in hand, are our two best friends in the US Senate, Senators Daniel Akaka
and Daniel Inouye, themselves WWII veterans. Senator Inouye, a Congressional Medal of Honor winner, it would be
recalled, was instrumental in including the Bill authored by Bob Filner in the Economic Recovery Law (Stimulus Package) which
finally granted the FilVets their long awaited reward from Uncle Sam for military services rendered to the United States in
World War II.
Be in prayer with us dear readers that we may succeed in this worthwhile final mission. This is the least we can do for
our valiant Filipino WWII veterans, their spouses and their widows, in the twilight of their lives.
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