July 26, 2017

Hirono Fights to Safeguard Benefits for Filipino Veterans at the Manila VA

Authorization set to expire September 30, 2017, Impacting Services to More than 10,000 Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today introduced the Keeping Our Commitment to Overseas Veterans Act to extend an expiring provision under law that allows the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to operate the VA Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic in Manila, Philippines.

The introduction of Senator Hirono’s bill coincides with the 76th anniversary of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s executive order placing Filipino soldiers under U.S. command during World War II.  

“Hawaii’s deep cultural and family ties to the Philippines extend to the sizable community of veterans and their dependents who rely on the Manila VA to receive their pensions and health care,” said Senator Hirono. “We must keep our commitment to these veterans and all veterans who rely on the Manila VA. It is imperative for Congress to promptly renew authority for this facility to avoid any impact to the hard-earned critical services these veterans deserve.”

According to the VA, Manila VA supports over $19 million per month in disability compensation or pensions to around 13,000 beneficiaries. In addition, it serves approximately 6,000 enrolled patients through its Outpatient Clinic. The Manila VA also plays a key role in processing WWII veteran claims under the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation fund. Without extension by Congress beyond September 30, 2017, the VA would no longer have authorization to maintain the facility.

“We’d like to thank Senator Hirono for her steadfast efforts to support our Filipino World War II Veterans including all our nation’s veterans living in the Philippines,” said Edmund Aczon, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, Hawaii. “We are grateful to Senator Hirono for introducing this bill to reauthorize the Manila VA Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic to ensure stability for the tens of thousands of veterans and their families who receive VA disability compensation, pensions or healthcare which will give peace of mind to their families in Hawaii.”

“Today, we remember the sacrifices the Filipino and American soldiers made for our country during World War II and the VA’s longtime presence in the Philippines is a reflection of our duty to provide the benefits and services they have earned,” said retired U.S. Army Major General Antonio Taguba, Chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. “We are grateful for Senator Hirono’s leadership in introducing legislation to reauthorize the Manila VA which thousands of American veterans in the Philippines including Filipino WWII veterans and their families depend on for their health and well-being.”  

“The VA’s long established presence in Manila is a testament to the commitment our nation has to the more than 10,000 veterans and family members in the country but also a reminder of the sacrifices of those veterans in the Philippines who answered President Roosevelt’s call to service during World War II 76 years ago today,” said Carlos Fuentes, VFW National Legislative Director. “The VFW thanks Senator Hirono for her leadership in introducing this bill to ensure veterans in the Philippines continue to have access to their earned health care and services.”