Some $188 million has been awarded as of June 1 by the United States government to eligible Filipino soldiers who were World War II veterans.
The Philippine Embassy in Washington DC reported that of the approved claims, 7,603 are for Filipino veterans based in the Philippines, while 7,991 are now living in the United States, according to a release posted on the website of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
The number of applications received has reached over 41,000, the DFA release added.
The US government initially allocated some $198 million for the Filipino Equity Fund, where Filipino World War II veterans who are US citizens stand to get a lump-sum payment of benefits amounting to $15,000 (about P695,000) each.
Those who are not US citizens are likewise entitled to $9,000 (about P417,000) each.
A proposal is currently pending before the US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs to allocate $67 million more for the Equity Fund. (See: US senator nixes $67M add’l funds for Pinoy vets)
Meanwhile, about 7,900 applications are pending before the US Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) and are being verified at the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) in St. Louis, Missouri.
The NPRC serves as the US Army’s records custodian that keeps the records of over 400,000 World War II-era guerrillas of the US Armed Forces of the Far East, dubbed the “Missouri list.”
On the other hand, 17,632 applications for compensation have so far been denied. About 1,761 Notice of Denials were received by the Manila Regional Office.
The release nevertheless said that the Veterans Affairs Office is continuously conducting outreach programs to help veterans with denied applications go through the appeals process.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs encloses a VA Form 4107, “Your Rights to Appeal Our Decision,” in the FVEC notification letter to explain options available to those with denied claims.
Bienvenido Arcilla, a Filipino war veteran now based in California, for example, is currently appealing his benefits claim which was denied because his name could not be located on the Missouri list.
He also lost the dog tags issued to him, the only pieces of evidence that he was indeed recruited into the US military in 1941 when he was just a 16-year-old high school student in Tarlac.
He has recently filed his appeal before the US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, where he narrated, among other things, how he escaped the Bataan Death March by crawling under the skirt of an elderly woman. (See: War veteran hid under woman’s skirt to escape Bataan Death March) —Jerrie M. Abella/JV, GMANews.TV