Executive Order for US Army Recognition?
November 11, 2011
The White House
Attn: US Army Secretary John McHugh
RE: Filipino Veterans Appeal for US Army Recognition & Equity Benefits
Dear President Obama:
On behalf of 4,000 members of our national veterans’ advocacy
we, the undersigned leaders, extend again our deep
appreciation of your
leadership in assisting Senators Daniel Inouye
and Daniel Akaka pass the "Filipino
Veterans Equity Compensation Act" (FVEC) into law (PL 111-5 Title X Sec. 1002)
in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009.
On this Veterans Day, we request again your help by issuing an
executive order to the Secretary of the Army to promptly review and
the military service of deserving Filipino World War II
veterans who honorably
served in the US Army as proven by their valid service and discharge records. We also
seek an audience with Army Secretary John McHugh to present our case.
As of October 1, according to the VA, 4,389 persistent Filipino
veterans have pending appeals with Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA) to obtain their US veterans recognition and equity compensation in lump sum benefits
($15,000 for a US citizen or $9,000 for a Filipino citizen veteran).
All are in their 80s and 90s and are in frail health. Many are United
States citizens. Most reside in the Philippines and are cared for by
family members. Sadly, many have died and their surviving spouses have tirelessly pursued their claims under the FVEC law.
UNNECESSARY BUREAUCRATIC DOCUMENTATION
Based on our meetings
and communications with the key staff of the
Army’s National Personnel Records
Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, MO, this major problem seems to be the unreasonable
and burdensome Army’s policy of “two requirements must be
met before a positive determination can be made” to verify the Filipino
veterans’ WWII service.
As an example, see the attached April 22, 2011 NPRC letter
the claim of Mr. Celestino Almeda, a 94-year-old veteran who resides in
Virginia, who has original copies of his discharge papers, complete service
and payroll records from the US Commonwealth Philippine Army. The NPRC required:
1) Almeda’s “name must appear in our archives
and his claim folder must contain information compatible with the archives,”
2) His name has to be “shown
in the official records and archives on file at this Center which list the
members of the Philippine
Commonwealth Army, including recognized guerrillas.”
This refers to
another roster of members of Philippine Commonwealth Army
or guerrilla units submitted by their American commanding officer two years after the war.
NPRC did not accept the authenticity of Almeda’s 1945-46 documents from
the Philippine Commonwealth Army of the United States which ironically
was the basis of his acquiring US citizenship in 1990s. The VA policy of
“reasonable doubt” should have been applicable and in favor
of Almeda’s claim because there were no contradiction of known facts.
(Authority: 38 U.S.C. 501(a))
Our representatives look forward in meeting with your
staff and to work with the Secretary of the Army to simplify and
equitably solve this unfair bureaucratic verification process.
On a positive note, thanks to the caring leadership and active
involvement of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki on this issue, 18,499
veterans have received their equity compensation checks as of October 1st.
Moreover, we appreciate the additional funds $67 Million appropriated by Congress upon the recommendation of VA Secretary Shinseki in May 2010. About $44 Million remain in this Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation
Fund - more than enough to satisfy any remaining appeals.
your February 25, 2008 statement when you were senator, you wrote:
urge my colleagues in Congress to honor the Filipino veterans who
fought with American troops in World War II. Approximately
troops joined American forces to fight in World War
II, but too many
of these heroes are still being denied benefits. The
time has come for
Congress to honor the Filipino veterans of World War II by finally enacting
the Filipino Veterans Equity Act... I applaud
Chairman Akaka's leadership on this
issue and will continue to urge my colleagues to provide the benefits
and recognition these veterans
We hope our requests to meet with Secretary McHugh and to obtain your executive
order would be granted. We would be glad to answer your staff’s questions.
Best wishes on your forthcoming meeting with Philippine President
Benigno Aquino next week
GANIO, Sr., ACFV National President
FRANCO ARCEBAL, Vice President Membership
ERIC LACHICA, Executive director
Art CALEDA -Honolulu; Susan DILKES –Los Angeles; Malou MARIANO - Long Beach; Manuel CANNU & Bert ANDRADE- San Diego; Regino NACUA & Rodel RODIS-San Francisco; Laymon JONES – Oakland; Eddie ARABE & Sarah GONZALEZ- San Jose; Jose NUEGA, Sacramento; Ernesto ANOLIN, Delano; Amador MONTERO, Conrado RIGOR & Thelma SEVILLA- Seattle; Lourdes CEBALLOS; Jose ESTRELLA - Houston; Jose RED, Alfredo DIAZ & Linda MAYO –Jersey
City; Rafael DE PERALTA & Sonny SAMPAYAN- NY; Maurese OWENS- Arlington
VA; Celestino ALMEDA- Guillermo RUMINGAN; VA; Romy SAN ANTONIO- Va. Beach;
Dick AQUINO –Jacksonville FL; and others
Benigno Aquino III,
Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Cuisia, Philippine Embassy Veterans Affairs Officer Gen. Delfin Lorenzana(ret.) U.S. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, US Secretary of the Army John McHugh c/o Sam RETHERFORD, Deputy Asst. Sec., U.S.
Dept. of State Sec. Hillary Clinton, US Dept of Defense Sec. Leon Panetta, U.S.
Senators: Daniel Inouye, Daniel Akaka and Harry Reid, U.S. Representatives:
Bob Filner, Darrell Issa and Brian Bilbray
Pass S. 1109 Now!
MILITARY FAMILIES ACT would adjust the status
of immediate family members of active military service members to that of lawful permanent residents
May 26, 2011
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Harry Reid (D-NV), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Charles Schumer
(D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced
legislation that would grant lawful permanent residence status to the immigrant immediate family members of active-duty
Armed Forces personnel.
Under the Military Families Act, the Department of Homeland Security would adjust the status of an individual to that
of lawful permanent resident if the individual is a parent, spouse, child, son or daughter of an Armed Forces member
who is serving or has served honorably in an active-duty status in the military, air, or naval forces of the United States
since 2001 or who died while serving our country.
The bill would also assist the sons and daughters of a Filipino World War II veteran who bravely served our country.
"We owe the men and women
who risk their lives in service of our nation so much, and that should include the right to be united with their
closest family members in our country on a permanent basis,”said Menendez. “This bill will help ensure the
families of those that have served our country with pride and valor don’t face unfair and unexpected deportation
and are able to remain, close to their loved ones, in this land they call home. As we prepare to celebrate Memorial Day,
we keep in our prayers and thoughts those who have died while serving our nation and their family members. We also honor
those that put their life on the line on our behalf. With this bill, we can show one measure of our appreciation
for their service and sacrifice. “
“No service member should receive a call on the battlefield one day to learn that a spouse or a parent is being
deported. I commend Sen. Menendez for this bill, which will ensure that thousands of our men and women in uniform
will not need to worry that loved ones will be deported in their absence and will know that when they return home they
can reunite with their close family members.
This bill will also ensure
that aging Filipino veterans, who served the United States admirably during World War II, will finally be reunited with
children from whom many have been separated for decades due to long backlogs in our outdated immigration system.
This reform is long overdue,” said Senator Reid (D-NV)
“Our country’s service members and military families have put everything on the line to protect our country
and keep America safe,” said Bennet (D-CO). “The last thing our service members should have to worry
about is whether their loved ones won’t be there to greet them once they return home.”
DHS officials estimate that many thousands of people in the military have spouses who are undocumented immigrants.
Many of these service members would like to apply for legal status for their family members but are prevented
from doing so by legal barriers created in 1996, when Congress last made major revisions to the immigration laws. This bill
is a critical component of comprehensive immigration reform.
H.R. 2638 "Military
Families Act" of Rep. Bob FILNER
New York Senator Charles Schumer (D) is thanked by (L to R) Pacifico Timbol NY American Legion Spring Valley Post commander
and Pat Ganio Sr., president of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans for his tireless support for their
Equity bill in a 2007 File photo in Washington DC. Schumer is now chairman of the Senate Judiciary Immigration Subcommittee.