Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Are You Doing This Veterans Day?

By Yong B. Chavez

Today is Veterans Day. Let's all take a moment to say a prayer for our U.S. troops overseas, and for those we have lost.

Let this also be the day when we show our appreciation for WW II's largely unheralded Filipino heroes by actively supporting their fight for equity. Do it not just today. If we Fil-Ams are not solidly and actively behind them, who do we expect to help them? If we can muster enough unity as a community to join our fellow Americans during last week's historic events, why can't we all lift a finger and just be there in whatever way for our vets who are still fighting for recognition absent our overwhelming support?

The day after the elections, I called up Eric Lachica, the tireless executive director of American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc. to ask how he felt about Barack Obama's win.

"I'm thankful that he won," he said, adding that the President-elect has expressed his support for Filipino WWII veterans many times. Lachica is hoping for a bipartisan support for the veterans, a likelier prospect now that lawmakers have become more supportive in light of Obama's win.

Finally, change will also come to the lives of our aging veterans, it looks like. When a call goes out to support them by contacting the lawmakers on their behalf, we need to take the time to do that.

The veterans and their supporters' plans include working for the passage of a bill that would get the vets a lump sum amount and a much-delayed official recognition of their bravery during the war.

Here is their latest letter to President-elect Obama:


November 6, 2008

The Honorable Barack Obama
President-elect of the United States
Washington DC
Attn: Ruchi Bhomik, Legislative Aide

RE: Congratulations and Thanks

Dear Senator Obama:

On behalf our elderly Filipino American World War II veterans, their families and supporters, we the undersigned extend our congratulations on your victory Tuesday and best wishes to your incoming administration. We trust your inspiring and pragmatic leadership in solving the current economic crisis, the creation of well-paying jobs, overcoming the difficult challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan, and protecting the interests of the American People.

Moreover, we also deeply appreciate your public appeals to your colleagues on behalf of our Filipino WWII veterans. In your February 25, 2008 statement on the anniversary of Filipino People Power revolution, you wrote:

“On this anniversary, I urge my colleagues in Congress to honor the Filipino veterans who bravely fought with American troops in World War II. Approximately 250,000 Filipino troops joined American forces to fight in World War II, but too many of these heroes are still being denied benefits. The time has come for Congress to honor the Filipino veterans of World War II by finally enacting the Filipino Veterans Equity Act... I applaud Chairman Akaka's leadership on this issue and will continue to urge my colleagues to provide the benefits and recognition these veterans deserve.”

With your early assistance in June 2007, Sen. Akaka’s bill S. 1315, “Veterans Benefits Enhancement Act” was finally passed in the Senate by overwhelming vote of 96 to 1 on April 24, 2008 and includes our Filipino WWII veterans.

On behalf of our 4,000 members and Mr. Patrick Ganio Sr., ACFV president, we look forward in working with your senate staff to successfully complete Sen. Akaka’s bill in the few weeks remaining in the 110th Congress.

Very sincerely
FRANCO ARCEBAL, ACFV Vice President Membership
ERIC LACHICA, Executive Director

Art CALEDA -Honolulu: Faustino BACLIG –Los Angeles; Avelino ASUNCION- San Diego; Filemon MORDENO -San Francisco; Antonio TAPERLA –S.F.; Dominador VALDEZ- San Jose; Jose NUEGA, Sacramento; Ernesto ANOLIN –Delano; Amador MONTERO & Thelma SEVILLA- Seattle; Lourdes CEBALLOS -Chicago; Joe GONZALES- Houston; Fred DIAZ –Jersey City; Pacifico TIMBOL- NY; Maurese OWENS- Arlington VA; Celestino ALMEDA- Guillermo RUMINGAN; VA; Romy SAN ANTONIO- Va. Beach; Dick AQUINO –Jacksonville FL; and others.
[picture c/o Eric Lachica]

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