US congressional medal sought for Fil-Am war vets
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - May 2, 2014 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – Filipino-American community leaders and veterans advocates are spearheading a nationwide campaign to press the US Congress to issue a national proclamation and award the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino World War II veterans in recognition of their wartime service to the United States.

A bill to award the medal has been introduced in Congress by US Democratic Rep. Colleen Hanabusa of Hawaii with more than 56 sponsors. She said the United States was forever indebted to the veterans for their bravery, valor, and dedication.

“There has never been a formal declaration to recognize Filipino American soldiers for their sacrifice and loyal service during World War II,” said retired US Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who is leading the Filipino-American World War II Soldiers Recognition Project.

“They fought bravely alongside American soldiers to resist Japanese aggression, engaged in guerilla warfare and provided intelligence to US forces that was critical in ultimately winning the war. It’s about time we say ‘thank you’ and honor them for their exemplary record of selfless sacrifice and love of country,” Taguba said.

He noted that other groups have been recognized with a Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the United States, including Japanese-American Nisei soldiers and Navajo Code Talkers, and Filipino-American World War II soldiers were equally deserving of this award.

Community activists have lobbied in the last 40 years for veterans’ equity benefits culminating in the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund established by Congress in 2009. The fund provides eligible veterans who are US citizens with a one-time payment of $15,000 and non-US citizens $9,000. More than 18,000 veterans have received payments and about 4,000 more are appealing their denied claims.

Ben de Guzman, national coordinator of the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE), said the Congressional Gold Medal award would preserve the veterans’ lasting legacy for the next generation.

“We are calling on all local and national communities and veterans service organizations to be actively involved,” said Marie Blanco, former chief of staff to the late US senator Daniel Inouye.

“Their strong and unified engagement in seeking additional cosponsors and advocating for consideration and passage of HR 111 is crucial to getting this measure signed into law,” she said. – Jose Katigbak/STAR Washington bureau

 

ANTONIO TAGUBA ARMY MAJ COLLEEN HANABUSA OF HAWAII CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL DANIEL INOUYE DEMOCRATIC REP FILIPINO FILIPINO-AMERICAN WORLD WAR UNITED STATES VETERANS
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