Over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Franklin Roosevelt’s call-to-duty during WWII will be awarded the nation’s highest civilian honor, pending approval from President Barack Obama. The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 passed the House of Representatives with a unanimous vote on November 30, 2016. The bill passed the senate in July of 2016 and is now headed to Obama’s desk.
Approximately 18,000 of the 260,000 service members that served are still alive. All 260,000 of the soldiers that served were promised military benefits. However, that offer was retracted by the Rescission Act of 1946. The soldiers did receive a lump sum payment of $15,000 for U.S. citizens and $9,000 for soldiers living in the Philippines in 2009. They have been denied benefits otherwise. For many soldiers the victory isn’t about benefits, it’s simply about recognition.
Retired Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project said in a statement:
“Now we can tell our veterans with pride in our hearts that this grateful nation has, at last, granted them recognition for the selfless sacrifice they endured in war, and restored their dignity and honor in service to their nation.”
The bill was sponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) and co sponsored by several reps including Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Joe Heck (R-Nevada), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), and Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii).