Filipino WWII Veterans closer to winning benefits battle

Photo by Mayra Beltran

Sixty years later, is it too late to pay back someone who risked life and limb for you? I don’t think it is.

The Senate has finally approved a measure to expand benefits to Filipino veterans who fought either with the U.S. or under U.S. command during World War II. Hopefully the House will make a decision on this bill before the end of the year. However, there is of course contention over the bill, from Republicans:

Republican opposition to creating a new pension benefit had blocked action on the Filipino provision until Thursday’s vote. But debate over the measure, part of a larger bill to expand or extend benefits to all veterans, split along a generational divide, with WWII veterans from both parties backing the bill.

“I see this as a matter of honor,” said Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), who noted that there were only five WWII vets left in the Senate. “I know some of my younger colleagues might see this as expensive. About 1 million Filipinos were killed in defense of our country. This bill restores their benefits . . . how long can that last? I appeal to the Senate.”

A Republican senator wants to redirect the funding from the FilVets to younger U.S. vets. That’s all well and good, but not a great example to show the world when you’re trying to get them to fight on your side in any given conflict. Not only that, these FilVets are all in their 80s and 90s, living in poverty conditions throughout California. They really need this help.

The Iraq war is most presently on our minds, yes. But if you try to make things history and not learn from those mistakes, you’re doomed to repeat it.

I have a passion for this issue after a story my friend Mayra and I did in college. Check it out here.