Wednesday, November 10, 2010
BREAKFAST, PARADES, PROTESTS FOR FILVETS ON VETERANS DAY
Filipino World War II veterans and their supporters are opening a two-pronged offensive to win additional benefits and full recognition from the United States government.
Pinoy veterans join their American comrades marking Veterans Day tomorrow (Nov. 11).
(President & Mrs. Obama with Filipino veterans Guillermo Rumingan and Amadeo Urbano in last year's Veterans Day Breakfast at the White House -- photo courtesy of Eric Lachica, ACFV)
Eric Lachica, executive director of the Virginia-based American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV), said he and 93-year-old veteran Celestino Almeda have been invited to the traditional Veterans Day Breakfast at the White House.
Since President Obama is attending a leaders’ summit in Seoul, South Korea, Vice Pres. Biden will be standing in for him at the breakfast and the commemoration ceremonies at the Arlington National Cemetery.
ACFV president Patrick Ganio Sr., 89, will serve as Filipino veteran marshal at the Jacksonville, Florida Veterans Day parade tomorrow.
Ganio, a Purple Heart Medal recipient, will lead 50 Filipino US Navy veterans at the parade, Lachica disclosed.
Ganio and other former Prisoners of War (POWs) will be honored at the Jacksonville Jaguars-Houston Texans football game at EverBank Field on Sunday.
On Friday evening, the Filipino American Veterans of Nevada will host a “Salute to Veterans” dinner that will feature, among others, the book launching of Frank Cedula, 87, another Purple Heart Medal awardee in World War II.
CLASS SUIT, PROTESTS TO PRESS VETERANS RIGHTS
In Los Angeles, California the Justice for Filipino American Veterans (JFAV) is leading a protest march on behalf of Filipino veterans and widows who’ve been excluded from benefits, including the $198 million “veterans equity compensation” payments.
The JFAV and other Filvet advocacy groups recently filed a class suit against the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
More than 40,000 applied for lump sums of $15,000 each for Filipino veterans in the US and $9,000 for those in the Philippines.
Over 8,000 applications were denied, according to VA records.
The class suit filed by lawyers led by Arnedo Valera aims to compel the VA to accept “secondary evidence” for veterans who were turned down, and allow widows of deceased veterans who would have otherwise qualified for the lump sum to collect the benefit.
The legal offensive is just one of a two-faceted approach to winning for the aging Pinoy veterans the benefits that were arbitrarily deprived them in 1946.
FAMILY REUNIFICATION AND BEYOND
Groups like the ACFV and National Federation for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) are mounting the other leg of the campaign – passage of Senate 2757 or the Military Families Act during the six-week lame-duck session on Capitol Hill.
The bill incorporates the Filipino Veterans Family Reunification bill that would expedite the granting of “green cards” to immediate family members of Fil-Am veterans.
Lachica said they are cognizant of new directions on Capitol Hill, particularly with the incoming Republican-dominated House of Representatives.
He said they are readying new proposals that could appeal to the fiscally conservative GOP congressmen, including changes that will allow Fil-Am veterans or their widows to take their social security benefits to the Philippines; and expand the availability of medicare services overseas.
They could generate millions of dollars in savings, Lachica averred.
It will also directly benefit hospitals and hospice care facilities in the Philippines, provided they meet US-set standards.
Lachica explained this is already being done at top Metro Manila hospitals like St. Lukes, where medicare patients in Guam are diverted because the Philippines is closer than getting the needed treatments in the US Mainland.
“The US should globalize the solutions” to the growing cost of caring for America’s veterans and elderly, Lachica said, noting there are 6 million Americans living overseas.