Petition 80515

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Restore Filipino WWII Veterans Benefits (80515-C1-R9999)

    Add a new Resolution as follows:
President Franklin Roosevelt drafted soldiers of the Philippine Commonwealth Army who were then U.S. nationals into the American military service on July 26, 1941. Before the Rescission Act (Public Law 79-301 now U.S. Code Title 38, Sec. 107) was enacted on February 18, 1946, Filipino veterans were considered U.S. veterans with active service by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA).  In recent years, some benefits have been restored and related favorable legislation signed into law. 24,000 Filipino veterans were naturalized as U.S. citizens under the 1990 Immigration and Naturalization Act based on their U.S. military service. Under Public Law PL 106-419, if they died, they are eligible for burial benefits with military honors in national cemeteries as U.S. veterans. Under PL 108-170, Filipino American veterans can now be patients in VA hospitals, clinics and nursing homes; however, they are not eligible for non-war related disability benefits or pensions that American counterparts receive in the U.S.
   Although President Truman signed the Rescission Act, he objected to taking away the benefits previous promised, and wrote on February 20, 1946:  "In approving H.R. 5158, I wish to take exception to a legislative rider attached to the transfer of as $200,000,000 item for the pay of the Army of the Philippines. The effect of this rider is to bar Philippine Army veterans from all benefits under the G.I. Bill of Rights with the exception of disability and death benefits which are made payable on the basis of one peso for every dollar of eligible benefits. I realize, however, that certain practical difficulties exist in applying the G.I. Bill of Rights to the Philippines.  However the passage and approval of this legislation do not release the United States from its moral obligation to provide for the heroic Philippine veterans who sacrificed so much for the common cause. Philippine Army veterans are nationals of the United States and will continue in that status until July 4, 1946. They fought, as American nationals, under the American flag, and under the direction of our military leaders. They fought with gallantry and courage under most difficult conditions... I consider it a moral obligation of the United States to look after the welfare of the Philippine Army veterans."
    Be it resolved that the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church recognizes and supports the heroic efforts of Filipino World War II veterans, who as U.S. nationals fought as part of the U.S. Army in defense of the Commonwealth of the Philippines and the United States of America.  
    Be it resolved that the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church vigorously support the restoration of U. S. veterans benefits as promised when Filipino forces were inducted into the U.S. Armed Forces by President Roosevelt in July 1941, in the GI Bill of Rights in 1944, and subsequent federal veterans benefits legislation.  
    Be it resolved that the 2008 General Conference of The United Methodist Church urges all our elected officials  to support pending federal legislation or their more recent equivalents supporting the Filipino-American war veterans:  (1) H. R. 4574/S. 146, the Filipino Veterans Equity Act of 2006; (2)  H.R. 901, an act to give priority in the issuance of immigrant visas to the sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans who are or were naturalized citizens of the United States, and for other purposes; (3) H. Res. 622/S. Res. 307, a Congressional Resolution to formally recognize and honor the Filipino World War II veterans for their defense of democratic ideals and their important contribution to the outcome of World War II, and (4) to complete the commitment to fund the Philippines Veterans Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City pursuant to Title 38, U.S. Code, Section 1732.