Thursday, May 14, 2009

Vets Receiving Checks From Government

By Yong B. Chavez

After President Obama approved the lump sum payment for World War 2 veterans, many of them have been anxiously awaiting for their checks in the mail. They did receive something from the government recently, but it's not for the money they've been waiting for.

Instead of rejoicing, Jim Catral became worried when he recently got a letter from the federal government saying that he will be receiving $250.

"Nagkaroon sya ng confusion, na-confuse sya...'what about the $15 thousand, you think I can receive that?'" Cora Boyd, Catral's caregiver said.

Catral thought it was from the Veterans' Compensation Fund.

In recent weeks, senior citizens receiving Social Security benefits have been getting checks.

The money is part of the stimulus bill which 55 million American seniors are receiving, not just Filipino WW II veterans, as Catral thought.

Catral was relieved when he found out that there's hope that he could live to see and enjoy his $15 thousand check.

The latest data released by the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund has this information:

Claims received: approximately 31,000

Number of claims in process: 15,962 Phils. /7,407 US

Number of claims completed: 2,011

Payments made: 1,661 checks sent, plus 242 approved

Disapproved: Less than 200

Average days to process: 46.6

Source: US Dept. of Veterans Affairs

Out of 31 thousand claims, almost two thousand checks have been sent and approved.

The idea that one of those checks could be his delights Catral.

He was a former prisoner-of-war who alter became a Philippine Constabulary general.

A widower, Catral says that apart from getting calls from his family, getting the check is one of the few things he still looks forward to when he wakes up each morning in the retirement home where he lives with his caregiver.

The veteran says that he has memory lapses and sometimes forgets the details of his compensation claim but there is one thing he is always sure of: the simple things he would buy when he gets his money.

"I think I have enough for something to eat, our food here," Catral says.

Catral is turning 90 in a few months. More than money, he says that he cares more for what the check symbolizes: the pride and glory of being a finally fully recognized war veteran while he's still alive.

[video taken by Janine Chavez]

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