The junior senator from Nevada would like to put a closure into complaints of 24,200 Filipino veterans, who have not been recognized and who have not received their service benefits because their names do not appear in the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.
Heller gave Panetta until Aug. 20, 2012 to respond to his letter.
A press release issued by Sen Heller’s press staff, Stewart Bybee, said, “After WWII, the U.S. Army created the “Missouri List” based on individuals who came forward after the war to receive healthcare. This list has been the sole document used by the military to verify those who served alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines.
“It is possible that some Filipinos who fought were not added to this list and therefore would not be eligible for veteran benefits. In the letter, Senator Heller urges Panetta to make every effort to develop a method for individuals who say they fought and have documentation to work with military historians so they can receive benefits they deserve.”
In his letter, Heller said, “Filipino soldiers served honorably in the Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerilla Forces, and New Philippine Scouts alongside U.S. troops during World War II. Many of these individuals were included on what is known as the “Missouri List,” which was created at the end of the war to document Filipinos who served alongside the United States.
“Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that some individuals who served alongside the U.S. military may not have been included on this list. Because the Department of Veterans Affairs relies solely on this list to determine service, I am concerned that there may be Filipinos unfairly excluded from benefits they earned during World War II.
U.S. SHOULD ENSURE FILVETS ARE RECOGNIZED
“The United States must make every effort to ensure that those individuals who served are properly recognized for their contributions to our nation. That is why I am respectfully asking the Department of Defense in coordination with military historians to establish a process to open the Missouri List to give Filipinos the opportunity to prove their service.
“It is my belief that in working with military historians, you can establish standards for documentation to support whether or not an individual had served during World War II in the Philippines for veterans benefit purposes.
“Filipino veterans are a respected part of the Nevada community. They are entitled to a fair and complete examination of their record and we must be certain that all eligible Filipino veterans receive compensation they are entitled to for their service to the United States during World War II.”
Meanwhile, Luke Perry, press and government relations director of the Filipino-American Veterans & families of America-NV Chapter, praise “Senator Heller for trying another way to have the records honored, as many of these warriors are dying every day. Nevada is currently the home of Americas oldest WW II Filipino denied veteran at 100 years old, along with four others who have been fighting to be recognized for service during the war.”
REP. JOE JECK SENDS STAFF TO NPRC
Perry added Nevada Congressman Joe Heck (R-NV-3) has sent “his staff to the NPRC to demand to view all our denied Filipino records. I am waiting for the result of that visit.”
Perry relayed the developments to Ceasar Elpidio, Founder and President of the FAVFA-NV in a conference call on Wednesday. Mr. Elpidio congratulated Perry for his effort with the Senator. Elpidio stated that Senator Heller’s initiative to get the Secretary involved with military historians will create more logical standards for documentation in support of the Filipino veterans and he will now become part of the war history that has kept 24,200 Philippine veterans from being called U.S.A. veterans for over sixty-six years. Perry advised Elpidio that it was a very inventive strategy long overdue.
Elpidio and Perry further stated that the process has been bogged down too long and the system does not work in place now. However, their records can be found in the Army archives in the Philippines and what is happening just does not make sense. They agreed that it is time to bring war historians in to look over these documents to determine what is real and what is not.
Because of disputes over records coming from the Philippines, their documents are dismissed and challenged. This, along with not being on the Missouri List and having a file at the National Personnel Records Center, has kept these men from joining the ranks of others who fought to keep the United States free during World War II. Currently, the VA contends that Title 38 does not allow them any benefits or compensation without solid proof that they served under a US Command or Commander. (firstname.lastname@example.org)