CAPAC Applauds Passage of Filipino WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act

Nov 30, 2016 Issues: Veterans and Armed Services

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the U.S House of Representatives voted to pass S.1555, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. The bill will recognize Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II with a Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian honor. The Senate passed this bill unanimously over the summer, and it will now be sent to the President to be signed into law. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements:

Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:

“As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am thrilled that the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation today to grant long overdue recognition to our Filipino World War II veterans. During World War II, more than 200,000 Filipino soldiers served bravely alongside American forces and played a critical role in ultimately helping the United States to achieve victory in the Pacific. We in CAPAC have made it a top priority to ensure that these Filipino World War II veterans receive the benefits and recognition that they deserve, and the passage of today’s bill is a tremendous victory for our veterans and the broader Filipino American community.

“I want to especially commend Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Gabbard for their leadership to ensure that we properly honor these heroic veterans, and I urge President Obama to sign this bill into law before the end of the year.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02):

“Today, the United States Congress took an historic step forward in honoring the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers that served our country during World War II. With unanimous support from the United State Congress, our bill now heads to the President’s desk. Our Filipino WWII veterans have waited decades for this recognition alongside units like the Tuskegee Airmen and Hawaii’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal—our nation’s highest civilian honor. With just 18,000 of these Filipino World War II veterans still alive today, we cannot afford to wait any longer. I urge the President to sign this bill into law before the year’s end, and honor our veterans with this long-overdue recognition.”

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (HI):

“For months, we have said that time is running out to recognize Filipino World War II veterans for their brave service. Today’s House passage is the culmination of decades of work by these veterans and their families to recognize their key role in the Allied victory, and their decades-long fight for benefits.”

Senator Brian Schatz (HI):

“This honor is a huge victory for the more than 250,000 Filipino veterans that bravely served alongside American troops during World War II. This award is long overdue, and I am proud to have worked with my colleagues in Congress to finally give them the recognition they deserve. Our work to honor these Filipino veterans and their families remains unfinished, including ensuring that these veterans have the care and benefits they were promised. I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to fulfill that moral obligation.”

Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:

“Today, I am deeply moved by the passage of a bill that will award the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino and Filipino American Veterans of WWII. Nearly 250,000 soldiers answered the call of President Roosevelt to secure a victory for the U.S. in the Pacific theater. Their bravery, patriotism, and sacrifice above and beyond in Bataan and other battles helped keep Midway and the Coral Islands in American hands at a crucial time during the War. Now, Congress is finally honoring the surviving Filipino and Filipino American WWII Veterans whose spirit and heroism is an example for all of us.”

Congressman Mark Takano (CA-41), CAPAC Whip:

“Over 200,000 brave Filipino people fought in World War II as members of the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). Just like any other American who dutifully served their country, the Filipinos who served in the USAFFE endured hardships and sacrificed much while fighting for the ideals our country holds dear. Yet, their service has remained unrecognized since 1946, when the Rescission Acts deemed that these Filipino soldiers did not serve in active-duty, and were subsequently denied their full veterans benefits. Today we took an important step toward correcting that injustice. The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (S. 1555), which passed the House today, is a long overdue recognition of their service and sacrifice. As the Acting Ranking Member of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, I have promised to protect and stand up for our veterans, and the Filipino soldiers who served this country are no exception. I look forward to President Obama signing this legislation into law.”

Congressman Al Green (TX-09):

“I am proud to cosponsor this important legislation, introduced by Senator Mazie Hirono and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, to collectively award Filipino and Filipino-American Veterans the Congressional Gold Medal for their courageous service during World War II. We are the land of the free because of the sacrifices of all our brave troops and allies. I know I speak for many people of good will when I say every American is indebted to their service and should be inspired by these exemplars of bravery.”

Congressman Ted Lieu (CA-33):

“Today, I applaud the passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. Not only does this legislation rightfully honor and recognize our Filipino WWII Veterans, it highlights the countless contributions of a diverse America. I look forward to President Obama signing it into law and honoring our Filipino Veterans with the highest civilian honor.”

Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):

“Any and everyone who serves our nation deserves to be recognized. For many Filipino and Filipino-American veterans, that recognition was never given. For decades these honorable service members were denied the benefits and appreciation they so rightly deserved. The passage of this bill finally honors these brave veterans with the highest civilian medal awarded by Congress.”

Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03):

“I am pleased the House has passed and sent to the President’s desk the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. Filipino Americans have contributed to American life and culture in countless ways. The invaluable service of Filipino soldiers and guerilla fighters during World War II helped win the war in the Pacific. Our nation is forever indebted to these brave soldiers and it is important that we express our gratitude.”

Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52):

“In June, I had the honor of presenting the family of a deceased Filipino-American veteran with medals that he had earned but never received for his brave service more than 70 years ago during WWII. The passage of this Congressional Gold Medal Act gives long overdue recognition to the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who served our country during WWII and honors their tremendous sacrifices in defense of our freedom. Many of these heroes and their families now live in San Diego and are an indispensable part of our veterans community. We are forever indebted to them for their service and sacrifice.”

Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28):

“I am pleased Congress will recognize the hundreds of thousands of Filipino and Filipino-American veterans who bravely served our country during World War II. Providing these veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal is but a small token of our gratitude when compared to the sacrifices these veterans made nearly 70 years ago, and I am happy to have supported this effort to recognize their heroic actions.”

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The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.