REPORT FROM OFFICE OF CONGRESSWOMAN HANABUSA– Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) today offered her support to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to assist Filipino World War II veterans in obtaining compensation for their service.
In a letter to Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary Chris Lu, Hanabusa said, “It has been my honor to meet many of Hawaii’s Filipino veterans of World War II, and to discuss with them the challenges they have faced in obtaining compensation for their service. Having heard their stories of service and sacrifice, I am proud to offer my support and the services of my staff to assist you and the Interagency Working Group in addressing the concerns of our Filipino veterans.”
More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers fought under the American flag during World War II. Many later became United States citizens. For over 60 years, Filipino veterans and community advocates have fought to obtain compensation for those who served with American soldiers during World War II.
Speaking about her offer to the White House, Hanabusa said, “When you talk to these brave men, you can’t help but be moved by the depth of their commitment and the sacrifices they made for our country. I will do everything I can to ensure that they’re treated fairly and with dignity.”
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 contained a provision creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. Eligible Filipino veterans of World War II who are U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $15,000; eligible veterans who are not U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $9,000.
According to the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, while over 18,000 claims have been approved to date many Filipino veterans report being impeded from filing claims, or believe their claims were improperly denied.
To address their concerns, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget, has launched an Interagency Working Group comprised of officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the National Archives and Record Administration. The Interagency Working Group will be tasked with analyzing the process faced by these Filipino veterans in demonstrating eligibility for compensation in order to ensure that all applications receive thorough and fair review.