USVA acts on delay of RP vets’ payment
|Posted by Manila Mail under Articles/Stories|
By Jennie L. Ilustre
WASHINGTON- Filipino American World War II veterans, concerned over the delays in the release of their lump sum payment, have suggested to the US Veterans Administration officials ways to speed up the release.
The suggestions were made when the American Coalition of Filipino Veterans (ACFV) Aug. 20 when they delivered a letter to Veterans Administration Secretary Eric K. Shinseki expressing their concerns about the delay in the processing of applications filed by veterans.
The ACFV had a meeting with USVA Director Jon Skelly in Manila via teleconference during which they were assured that there are already 18 employees working full-time to handle the processing.
Since the law with the lump sum payment provision was enacted last Feb. 17, almost 40,000 have submitted their applications, which are all processed in the USVA regional office in Manila .
The one-time, quit claim payment is $15,000 for qualified US-based Filipino American WWII veterans, and $9,000 for their qualified Philippine counterparts. About 18,000 veterans in the Philippines and the US , whose names appear in the Revised Registered Guerrilla Roster in Missouri, are deemed entitled to the payment.
Skelly said his office could not go by the certification submitted by applying veterans because the policy is for USVA policy to secure such document directly from the Army Records Center in Missouri.
The veterans recommended:
1. Installing a separate “express lane” processing team at the Manila-based USVA Regional office to approve the well-documented applications from Filipino veterans who are US citizens. These Filipino veterans became U.S. citizens under 1990 Immigration & Naturalization Act because they have the St. Louis , Missouri certification letters of U.S. Army service or New Philippine Scout discharge papers.
2. Designating liaison officers at VA centers in key US cities: Los Angeles , San Francisco , Honolulu , NY , Seattle and Chicago to handle inquiries from US-based Filipino American WWII veterans.
Responding to the veterans’ complaints that the two USVA phone lines given them had no dial tone and routed them to several offices, Skelly said the USVA would update information on its “hotline” and website every month, according to retired Maj. Delfin N. Lorenzana, who accompanied the veterans. Lorenzana will step down this month as head of the Office of Veterans Affairs at the Philippine embassy here.
The meeting at the USVA main office here lasted for over an hour. The officials were: Earl Newsome III, deputy director for VA Minority Affairs; Steve Furer; Ronald Sagudan of VA Minority Affairs Asian Pacific Liaison Office, and retired US Army Gen. Antonio M. Taguba, commissioner on VA Minority Affairs.
The veterans noted their fellow veterans are dying at rate of 3 to 5 per day, adding that in the US , over two dozen members who applied have passed away without receiving their equity compensation. Under the law, the compensation will automatically go to their widows. Other veterans at the meeting were: Celestino Almeda, 92, and Rudy Panaglima, 79.