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Filipino WWII Vets Still Waiting For Promises To Be Kept

[Thanks to PB who sent this in.  He writes: Another case of S.O.S. - Same Old Shit]

Apr 4 By NICOLE ZIEGLER DIZON, Associated Press Writer

CHICAGO - Jose V. Juachon was among thousands of Philippine nationals inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces in 1941, when their country was under American control.

The United States promised them the same benefits as American soldiers at the time, then rescinded that promise five years later.

"Every time, I always cry," Juachon says, his eyes filling with tears as he talks about the $50 a month he receives for a war injury, all he can expect under current law.

Bills now in Congress would reverse the nearly 60-year-old slight — giving Filipino veterans full U.S. benefits.  Similar legislation has failed in the past, but the cause has taken on new urgency as aging veterans like Juachon race against time.

"For all these years, I have served the U.S. government," the 86-year-old veteran said. "We are trying to get the U.S. government to recognize us.  When most of this was happening, our senators and congressmen were not even born yet.  They don't know."

Filipino interest groups estimate about 58,000 Filipino World War II veterans are still alive, 12,000 of them in the United States.  Like Juachon, most are in their 70s and 80s.

Some benefits originally promised to Filipino soldiers have been restored piecemeal over the years.  Congress passed a bill in 1990 that allowed thousands of veterans in the Philippines to immigrate and become U.S. citizens. Burial rights in national cemeteries came a decade later.  [Marvelous.  They get buried for free.]

Even so, veterans like Juachon received only 50 cents on the dollar in disability benefits until recently, and they do not get death pensions or payments for disabilities unrelated to their service.

The National Network for Veterans Equity is working to change that, though.

"It's not, for us, just a matter of the survivor benefits or educational benefits or the pensions. It's a matter of justice and dignity and respect and honor," said Christopher Punongbayan, a network member.

A teleconference has been arranged with lawmakers in seven cities during a rally Saturday, which marks the 63rd anniversary of the Bataan Death March.

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