I have received numerous email inquiries in the recent days from spouses and dependents of deceased World War II (WWII) Filipino Veterans. Most of the emails have a common concern and I quote one email from Miguel P., which reads as follows:
“My father was World War II Veteran. A recognized guerilla during the war. In fact during his lifetime, he was receiving monthly pension through the Phil. Veterans' Affairs Office and sometime in 1993 he went to the U.S. for his U.S. citizenship. Now that he is now dead, could the surviving spouse, my mother, be entitled to the benefits granted by this Stimulus package. Why according to some information, the surviving spouses and children will not benefit anything from this package. WHY? It is not fair because they served during WORLD WAR II. WHERE IS EQUALITY AND JUSTICE HERE if they are not allowed to benefit from this package. THE POLICY IS UNFAIR, ISN'T IT? Hope you could find way to reply a very good reason(s) on the part of the U.S. government WHY they should not benefit from the package.”
By way of recap, the WWII Filipino Veterans entitled to this new benefit are as follows:
· Commonwealth Army of the Philippines. Also known as the Philippine Commonwealth Army, these veterans were called into the service of the United States Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), its members serving between July 26, 1941, and June 30, 1946.
· Guerrilla Service. People in this group served as guerrillas in USAFFE in resistance units recognized by and cooperating with U.S. forces between April 20, 1942, and June 30, 1946.
· New Philippine Scouts. New Philippine Scouts were Philippine citizens who served with the U.S. Armed Forces with the consent of the Philippine government between Oct. 6, 1945, and June 30, 1947.
To be eligible for the new benefit, service members in each of the three categories above must have been discharged or released from service under conditions other than dishonorable.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Embassy of the United States in Manila have designated locations where the Veterans can apply for their claims. Application forms are available at the U.S. Embassy, the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City and the 13 Philippine Veterans Affairs Offices located throughout the Philippines. For further details in applying for the new benefit, go to: http://manila.usembassy.gov. Be advised that there is no fee to apply for this new benefit.
For United States residents, you may call 1-800-827-1000 to receive information by mail. For Philippine residents, you may call 632-528-2500 (within Metro Manila) or from outside Manila at 1-800-1888-5252. In addition, Filipino Veterans may request information via email at https://iris.va.gov. All claims for this benefit will be processed only at the VA Regional Office in Manila. For those Filipino Veterans who are residents of the United States, your application should be mailed to the address listed below:
Department of Veterans Affairs
PSC 501, FPO AP 96515-100.
The Veterans Affairs Office has extensively reached out to WWII Filipino Veterans throughout the Philippines to inform them of this new benefit and to assist them in filing their claims. It is important to note that claims must be submitted by Feb. 16, 2010, a year after the bill’s signing.
Cash payments are now being released to Filipino Veterans who fought with the American troops during the World War II as a new benefit as authorized by the newly enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Claims from Filipino Veterans eligible for one-time payments of $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens and $15,000 for Filipino Veterans with U.S. citizenship are now being accepted. The VA is currently processing claims for such payments.
Claims for these additional benefits will be accepted only if it is made by the veteran himself. Therefore, claims filed by the spouses and dependents of the Filipino Veterans will not be accepted.
There will be a seminar conducted by Atty. Templo which will tackle common U.S. immigration issues and Veterans benefits on Saturday, March 14, 2008 at the Asian Institute of Management Conference Center. Kindly contact his Makati office for more details.
Atty. Michael Templo is an attorney admitted to practice law in New York State and Federal Courts and is a partner at Templo & Templo with offices in New York, USA and Makati City, Philippines. Atty. Templo specializes in US Immigration matters. The discussion above is not intended as legal advice, and cannot be relied upon for any purpose without the services of a qualified professional. For your comments and questions, Atty. Templo can be reached at [email protected] or log on to www.templolaw.com.