Obama Signs Bill Awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino World War II Vets

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PRESIDENT Barack Obama has signed into law a bill recognizing the sacrifices and contributions of over 260,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans who fought alongside allied forces during World War II.

The legislation approved on Thursday, December 15 awards the Congressional Gold Medal—the nation’s highest civilian honor—to veterans whose service had been largely dismissed by prior acts of Congress.
“The Filipino veterans of World War II overcame many challenges in their fight for compensation, family reunification, and verification of wartime service,” said Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), one of the lead sponsors of the legislation, in a statement published on Thursday.

The Rescission Act of 1946 barred Filipino soldiers from receiving veterans’ benefits awarded by measures enacted by the U.S. government after the end of WWII. It also officially labeled their contributions as inactive service, according to the Filipino American National Historical Society.
In 2009, a portion of the federal economic stimulus package gave surviving Filipino veterans a one-time lump sum of $15,000 for citizens and $9,000 for non-citizens.

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“After enduring 75 years of injustice and humiliation, our Filipino World War II veterans regained their honor and dignity,” Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret.), the chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition Project (FilVetREP), said in a statement released on Thursday.

Decades after their service ended, fewer than 18,000 Filipino veterans are still alive to personally celebrate the acknowledgment of their sacrifices.

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