Advocates of Pinoy war vets still waiting for equity

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Jul 30 2014 12:17 PM | Updated as of Jul 30 2014 08:17 PM

LOS ANGELES - As another Veterans Day passed, Filipino World War II veterans and their allies continue to wait for equity.

This week marked the 73rd anniversary of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE).

On July 26 1941 before World War II began, the US created forces in Asia, including the Philippines.

"This is the proof that the United States conscripted the Filipino soldiers, the entire commonwealth army of the Philippines in 1941. So, on July 26th 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order creating the United States Armed forces in the Far East, this combining the forces of the United States including the Philippine Scouts and the army of the commonwealth," said Arturo Garcia of the Justice for Filipino American Veterans.

Despite efforts of many Filipino veterans, Garcia said thousands are still waiting for lump sum payments that were denied to veterans because their services cannot be verified.

The problems have continued as delays in serving thousands of veterans were uncovered at the Veterans Affairs Administration, prompting lawmakers to propose a $17 million overhaul of the agency.

Advocates are unsure if the changing of leadership in the VA can solve the problems of Filipino Veterans.

"The problem is systemic. The Department of Veterans Affairs is the most corrupt American agency and up to now there is a 600,000 backlog," said Garcia.

While the number of surviving veterans continues to dwindle, there are even less USAFFE survivors. Advocates said they are continuing to lobby for legislation that could help give pensions to veterans and their widows.

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