|Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii urges passage of HR2737.|
they get the Congressional Gold Medal for their service, the act that would grant them that honor would have to be passed before Congress breaks for the holidays.
"Time is of the essence for Congress to pass this legislation and honor these courageous men with the long overdue recognition they deserve,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.
“Too long have our veterans been unrewarded for their valiant service to this country, said Johanna Puno Hester, national president of the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance. "This is such an important piece of legislation that would send waves to the Filipino and Filipino American communities on the significant role we’ve played (and continue to play) in American history.”
If the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 is not approved before a new Congress convenes in January, the whole legislative process would have to start over again. In the meantime, more of the elderly veterans will pass away before they receive that honor.
“Congressional Gold Medal bills require two-thirds of the House, or at least 290 members, to sign on to the bill before it can move forward," said Gabbard." I’m happy to report ... that we’ve exceeded this with 309 co-sponsors, with colleagues representing both parties and nearly every state and territory in our nation supporting legislation to recognize these men for their service and sacrifice.”
The Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO (APALA) urges members of the House to pass the bill and recognize our veterans who thus far been unrecognized and denied rights and privileges for their service.
APALA Executive Director Gregory A. Cendana added: “We’re calling all hands on deck. The Senate already passed the bill earlier this year, and we need to continue to pressure our representatives in the House to ensure the bill goes to President Obama. It’s time to put our foot on the gas, not step on the brakes.”
The Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 would award Filipino veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor by Congress.
Senate bill S1555, which was already passed by the Senate, and House bill HR2737 will impact veterans who fought and were assigned in the Philippine Scouts, Philippine Commonwealth Army, Philippine Constabulary, New Philippine Scouts, Recognized Guerrillas, First Filipino Infantry Regiment, 2nd Filipino Infantry Battalion (Separate), and First Reconnaissance Battalion. The bills also include US Army officers (Caucasians) who commanded in the units.
Over 260,000 Filipinos fought to defend the U.S. in World War II. "We think there are about 16,000 to 17,000 still alive from some 260,000 who fought back in WWII," said retired Gen. Antoino Taguba, who has lobbied Congress on the bill's behalf.To support the campaign:
“Despite their critical role in the Pacific, Filipino World War II veterans have never been recognized by Congress for their service," said Tulsi, who is one of the sponsors of the House bill. "We’ve waited far too long to recognize these heroes alongside units like the Tuskeegee Airmen and Hawaii’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal."