June 17, 2015

Hirono, Reid & Heller Continue To Stand Up For Filipino World War II Veterans

Senators Demand Explanation From VA On Plan To Tap Fund That Provides Much Delayed Compensation For Filipino World War II Veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono demanded an explanation from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on their proposal to take funds from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund (FVEC) to pay for cost overruns at the mismanaged Denver VA project.  

In a letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, which was also signed by Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), the Senators underscored  the importance of the FVEC, which provides much-delayed compensation to more than 200,000 Filipino veterans who served alongside American soldiers during World War II, and slammed the VA for proposing to tap the fund to pay for their gross mismanagement:

“We write to you today to express our deep concern over the reprogramming proposals contained in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plan for completion of the Denver Replacement Medical Center which was publically released on June 5, 2015. In particular we are very disappointed that the VA proposed to reprogram $35 million from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) fund which Congress created to recognize the dedicated service of the over 200,000 Filipinos who fought under the U.S. flag during World War II…. The fact the FVEC would be considered as a means to cover VA’s mismanagement of a major construction project is an affront to those Filipino veterans who gave their lives in service to our nation and those Filipino veterans whose FVEC claims appeals are still pending.”

View a copy of the letter here and read the full text below.

The Honorable Robert McDonald

Secretary                                                                  

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs                                           

810 Vermont Avenue, NW                                                

Washington, DC 20420                                          

Dear Secretary McDonald:

We write to you today to express our deep concern over the reprogramming proposals contained in the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) plan for completion of the Denver Replacement Medical Center which was publically released on June 5, 2015. In particular we are very disappointed that the VA proposed to reprogram $35 million from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) fund which Congress created to recognize the dedicated service of the over 200,000 Filipinos who fought under the U.S. flag during World War II.

While the Senate was ultimately able to come up with a bill that provides additional flexibility to VA to transfer other monies, we remain concerned as to why the FVEC was proposed in the first place and also that VA may consider reprogramming funds from the FVEC in the future. The VA’s June 5 plan did not contain an adequate explanation for the $150 million in reprogramming requests and we urge the VA to provide a more detailed justification for all reprogramming proposals in the future.

The fact the FVEC would be considered as a means to cover VA’s mismanagement of a major construction project is an affront to those Filipino veterans who gave their lives in service to our nation and those Filipino veterans whose FVEC claims appeals are still pending. We understand VA has the authority to reprogram the FVEC funds without the approval of Congress but ask that in the future, should such proposals be sent to Congress for consideration, that detailed justification is provided. In addition, we view it as essential that any reprogramming request of FVEC funds include a plan for VA to replenish those funds.

As strong supporters of all of our nation’s veterans, we look forward to working with you to ensure our commitments to them are kept. We would appreciate your attention to this matter and look forward to your response.

Sincerely, 

_______________________________             _______________________________

MAZIE K. HIRONO                                           HARRY REID

United States Senator                                        United States Senator

 

_______________________________           

DEAN HELLER                                                

United States Senator