On Friday, October 8, 2010, Filipino World War II veterans filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against the federal government accusing the entity of unfair benefits distribution. The Filipino veterans believe that the government is discriminating against them by providing them with benefits below what U.S. veterans receive.
“If you are recognized as a war veteran,” said attorney Arnedo Valera who is representing the suit’s 27 plaintiffs, “then you should be accorded benefits like any other war veteran.”
Approximately 250,000 Filipinos served alongside American troops during World War II, and many Filipino veterans, as well as the spouses of those who served, are now demanding compensation equivalent to that paid to U.S. veterans.
The suit claims that the lump sums of $9,000 or $15,000 made by the U.S Department of Veterans Affairs to Filipino veterans were menial compared to the benefits, including pensions and health care, given to other veterans. Last year, the U.S. agreed to pay the lump sums to Filipino veterans, however, has not fulfilled their agreement.
The VA is also accused of withholding benefits from veterans in the law suit. Many veterans were made ineligible for benefits after their war records were destroyed in a fire even though they retain other documents proving their service. A suit filed earlier in the year on behalf of three Filipino veterans accused the VA of similar actions.
With the law suit, Filipino veterans hope to gain benefits equivalent to those received by other veterans, and to gain access to benefits for the spouses of deceased Filipino veterans whose veteran died before benefits were made available.
VA spokeswoman, Susan Fishbein, stated that although comments regarding the law suit could not be made, she could assure that since last year the VA had delivered more than $200 million in lump sum benefits to 17,000 Filipino World War II veterans and widows.
Photo thanks to riffraff67 under creative common license on Flickr.