A legislation that may yet give Filipino World War II veterans who were denied compensation a second shot at getting recompense will be resubmitted in Congress soon.
This is expected to be a quicker way for the US government to pay the former soldiers for services during the war, US Rep. Joe Heck said.
“What we are trying to do right now is to rewrite the bill to change the committee of jurisdiction so I can get it over to [the committee on] Armed Services,” he told a media conference at his Henderson, NV office last July 1.
The bill, House Resolution 481, amends the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 as it directs the Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) to accept documents from the Philippine government as proof of service in determining the eligibility for compensation.
Documents that the VA need to accept, according to the bill, include an affidavit from the government of the Philippines certifying such service or any other form issued or accepted by the government of the Philippines as proof of such service. Heck submitted HR 481 to the Committee on Veterans Affairs last February.
“We were having problems getting a hearings in the Veterans Affairs committee. They have concerns that the way the bill was written will open opportunity for fraud,” Heck said at the media conference.
“We disagree. First, because the form is no longer available. Second, the typewriter used to fill the form no longer exists,” Heck said, adding, “Also, in my heart I don’t believe a 90-year old Filipino World War II veteran can commit fraud by faking a document.”
Thousands of Filipino World War II veterans, most in their late 80s, were deemed ineligible to receive amounts from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) fund due to lack of required documentation.
The FVEC is a $198-million fund authorized by President Obama, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2008, for distribution as one-time lump sum payments of $15,000 each to Filipino World War II veterans who are US citizens or residents. Veterans living in the Philippines were allotted $9,000 each.
HR 481 amends the requirement that veterans applying for compensation under the FVEC be on the Missouri list. This list, called the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerrilla Roster, is kept by the National Personnel Records Center in St Louis, MO. In addition to their names being on the list, veterans claiming compensation are also required to possess certified documentation from the United States Army.
Heck explained, “The way the system is set up is the Department of the Army has to do certification and then they tell VA it’s okay to pay the benefit.”
“So since it’s Dept of Army that does certification we think we can move jurisdiction to Armed Services because we can deal with the Department of the Army in Armed Services committee,” he added.
The congressman who represents Nevada’s third congressional district also said, “We’ll try to get a hearing on the Armed Services military personnel sub-committee, which I sit. on to try to raise awareness.”
Heck is also banking on the fact that the head of the House Armed Services committee, US Rep. Howard McKeon of California’s second district, is a co-sponsor of HR 481.
The congressman, who represents Nevada’s third congressional district, expects the bill to be submitted “after the August recess.”
(Las Vegas July 4-10, 2013 Sec A pg.1)