One of the sore points in the relationship between the Philippines and the USA is the failure to provide Veteran’s benefits to those Philippinos who fought in World War II. At the time, they were considered equal to US soldiers, but with Independence, their rights to pensions and to use VA hospitals was taken from them, with the idea that it would be granted from the newly independent Philippine government.

This is fine for those living in the Philippines, like my husband, who gets a small pension as a veteran. However, as World War II veterans age and medical care becomes more expensive, the main reason behind this request is to allow the aging veterans to get needed medical care.
As this ABS-CBN story relates:

The proposed measure, if approved, will benefit both the estimated 6,000 surviving World War II veterans now living in the US (about 4,000 of them in California) and the 18,000 living in the Philippines.

The benefits will include free healthcare, disability pensions, dependent indemnity and death and burial benefits. The bill will have immediate impact on veterans in the US, most forced to live off on the few hundred dollars they get from social security.

Another priviso in the bill is the Family Reunification part of the act, that would allow the children of the veterans to be eligible for American visas. The idea behind this is to allow the children to care for their aging parents now living in the USA.

Every year my husband and other World War II veterans march in the front of the city’s yearly fiesta parade, and every year the number of veterans who fought with Americans to free the Philippines is smaller. When we first married, there were a dozen strong and aging men proudly marching. Now there are only a few, and they ride in a car rather than march.

My husband, who used his Philippine veterans benefits to go to medical school, has no need for the benefits, but what about the others? Especially the others who now live in the United States?

As Rodney Jaleco writes:
Carved in marble at a corner of the World War II Memorial are the words of American Admiral Chester Nimitz: “They fought together as brothers in arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.”

After over 60 years, the stage is now set for rectifying what many see as a terrible injustice done on thousands of Filipinos who fought in the Pacific War.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket

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