At the same time, Rosye Cloud, Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Families at the White House, in an easy circulated by the White House press office, said “response time for service determination requests” before NARA (National Archives and Records Administration), which is the mother agency of NPRC, will be whittled down to “10 days or less.”
Cloud, who appears to have taken over the duties of Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund Interagency Working Group (IWG) Presidential Assistant Chris Lu, Co-Chair of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, said the new policy is designed “increase transparency and accelerate processing of claims within the existing framework.” Mr. Lu reportedly resigned over frustrations for not getting the cooperation of the VA and the U.S. Army to help with the problems of the Filipino veterans.
She said the “VA has created a special team dedicated to FVEC (Filipino Veterans Equity Claims) appeals and will obtain copies of certain Philippine Army documents from the Adjutant General of the Philippines.”
Director Cloud said although the White House is pleased to report that “over 18,000 claims have been approved,” many Filipino veterans, numbering in excess of 24,000, “believe that their claims were improperly denied, or that they did not receive a satisfactory explanation as to why their claims were denied.”
The claims refer to the one-time payment of $15,000 for veterans, who are U.S. citizens, and $9,000 for non-U.S. citizens, under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund that formed part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 signed by President Obama.
RESPONSE TIME REDUCED TO 10 DAYS OR LESS
Director Cloud said, “The United States Army remains confident in the current process to determine valid service. The Army has developed more detailed response letters for requests for service determination that explain why an application was denied. These letters are already in use.”
She added, “NARA has decreased the response time for service determination requests to 10 days or less. Though the IWG’s work concludes here, we hope these reports provide the transparency needed to understand the service verification process for Filipino World War II veterans appealing their claims. This is part of the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to honor the contributions of all veterans in their service to our country.”
It took the last seven months for the IWG to come up with the the policy toward increased transparency and a thorough accounting of the process to verify valid military service for Filipino World War II veterans. This effort culminates in the reports that follow from each member of the IWG. This effort represents the first time all organizations involved in the verification process were brought together to examine the process from start to finish, and publicly post a collaborative report explaining each organization’s role in the verification process.
In addition to clarifying the claims process, the IWG digitized and made available online for the first time a report titled, “U.S. Army Recognition Program of Philippine Guerrillas.” This crucial report explains how the recognition process was developed at the close of World War II. Most significantly, the Army publicly states their careful reasoning behind the current policies on service verification.
SILENT ON BUNGLED U.S. ARMY PH GUERILLA REPORT
The IWG was silent on the report of the “U.S. Army Recognition Program of Philippine Guerillas” where the U.S. Army bungled the hundreds of thousands personnel records of the guerillas, who are owed compensation for their war services to the tune of U.S.$1-billion dollars.
This service compensation is apart from the compensation for the 260,000 Philippine Commonwealth Army soldiers, whose benefits “on par with the United States veterans for their service to the United States” during World War II were taken away from them retroactively, instead of prospectively, when the U.S. Congress passed the Rescission Acts of 1946. These Acts were ex post facto laws that violate the U.S. Constitution.
Over the past year, the U.S. Army has placed a priority on requests for service determinations received from the Department of Veterans Affairs for Filipino veterans. As a result, today over 90 percent of requests are serviced within 10 days versus 43 percent a year ago, and NPRC is current with claims processing.
NARA also clarified that NPRC does not have “in its holding s specific holdings a specific document titled the “Missouri List” or the “St. Louis List,” nor does it have a single, comprehensive roster listing every Philippine Army veteran and recognized guerrilla. The NPRC does not hold a document called the “Roster of Troops,” nor a uniform “Discharge List.” NPRC merely authenticates prior service determinations by examining claim folders, finding aids, and a variety of rosters compiled by the Army during its post-war recognition program.
Authentication does not require a claimant to be listed on multiple rosters.
NARA also clarified that except for the records of (Old) Philippine Scouts, Philippine Army and related records were not stored among the U.S. Army records when a catastrophic 1973 fire at NPRC destroyed 16-18-million military service records pertaining to veterans of the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.
VA has expeditiously developed a Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund benefit application, an adjudication process for this benefit, and a payment and accounting system to facilitate timely and accurate FVEC payments. VA’s Manila Regional Office (RO) is responsible for processing FVEC claims. The law requires VA to administer the benefit consistently with applicable provisions of title 38, U.S. Code. Applications requiring further development were processed under Veterans Claims Assistance Act procedures, as with claims for other VA benefits, and notification of claim decisions and appellate rights are provided in the same manner as for other benefit claims.
RO decisions on FVEC claims are appealable to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals and, ultimately, to the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, in the usual manner.
Photo of Rosye Cloud, Director of Policy for Veterans, Wounded Warriors and Military Families at the White House.