SAN MATEO, CA - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo/San Francisco) today released the following statement about the new Interagency Working Group led by the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to analyze the process facing Filipino veterans who apply for compensation through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I support the administration’s efforts to ensure that VA claims and benefits are properly managed for Filipino Veterans of World War II. Ultimately, Congress needs to act to ensure that Filipino World War II veterans and their families are entitled to full benefits and compensation for their service, not the negotiated half-settlement currently afforded to them.

“Filipinos were American nationals when they fought in the war and they were promised full benefits by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. A promise made, should be a promise kept. We have broken our promise and it’s time to make amends.”

Congresswoman Jackie Speier is the author of the Filipino Veterans Fairness Act of 2011 (HR 210) that would make Filipino veterans fully eligible for benefits similar to those received by all U.S. veterans. It eliminates the distinction between the Regular or "Old" Philippine Scouts and the other three groups of veterans—Commonwealth Army of the Philippines, Recognized Guerrilla Forces, and New Philippine Scouts. Widows and children of Filipino veterans would be eligible for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation just like any other veteran. Filipino veterans are dying at the rate of ten per day. Their average age is 85. There are an estimated 15,000 living WWII Filipino veterans who are worthy of benefits.