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Home Columns A Cup O' Kapeng Barako U.S. Vets Come First, Before the FilVets
U.S. Vets Come First, Before the FilVets PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - A Cup O' Kapeng Barako
Wednesday, 18 April 2007 17:06

Cups runneth over, cliches runneth over, but anger boils over.
 
My anger seethed and boiled over when I read a press release by the National Alliance for Filipino Veterans Equity (NAFVE) in the NPC-Phil USA list serve.  It was titled "61-year long wait for Filipino veterans may be over with Congressional majority support for Filipino veterans equity."  


In parts, it read: "The House of Representatives Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Bob Filner and Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Mike Honda (D-CA) announced the unprecedented progress that has been made by the Filipino Veterans Equity Act (HR 760) in a national teleconference . . . In the call, they reaffirmed their commitment to funding the bill and praised the Filipino-Americans' leadership on this bill since its introduction . . ."
 
That's fine.
 
The teleconference was co-hosted by Rep. Mike Honda and NAFVE, a national coalition of organizations working for full equity for Filipino World War II veterans . . . 
 
That's fine, too, and more power to NAFVE.
 
It continued: "Rep. Honda commended the veterans for their service to the United States and issued a clear call for passage of the bill . . ." 
 
Then Honda said daw, "A promise made should be a promise kept, especially when it comes to veterans.  If we are to be a legislative body dedicated to ideals of justice and dignity, then it is IMPERATIVE we honor the promise made to Filipino veterans, and restore their benefits . . . we have prioritized the plight of the Filipino WWII veterans as a top legislative goal."
 
That's when I hit the roof, seethed and boiled over. 
 
The press release was forwarded by my friend and NPC-Phil USA colleague, Jerry Clarito, so I addressed my anger to him, with copies to all members of the list serve and many others.
 
I told Jerry: "It was an ignorant and hypocritical statement by Representative Honda.  If it is imperative that the United States honor the promise made to the FILVETS, then it is also IMPERATIVE that the United States take care of it own veterans.  But it has not."  
 
Has he heard of Walter Reed?
 
If the legislative body of the United States is truly dedicated to its ideals of justice and dignity, then the promise they told us, U.S. military retirees and our families, of free medical benefits for the rest of our lives, should also be kept.  But it did not.


Right after I sent that brief e-mail, volleys of e-mails fired back at me.  The first came from Jerry; the other was from Lourdes Ceballos.  The other e-mails came later, condemning me for my views.
 
What follows is my reply to Jerry and Lourdes:
 
"Lourdes and Jerry, I am not a member of that list serve that you mentioned, the Military Retirees Grass Roots Group, whose members according to you complain DAILY of the broken promises made to them by the US government, Congress, the White House . . . I have never heard of that group.  But as a U.S. military retiree myself, I join them in deploring the broken promises made to us, veterans.
 
"The U.S. government did promise free lifetime medical benefits for us and for our families, if we serve for 20 years.  Many of us served because of that promise.  But that promise was not kept.
 
"They also promised us that if we get injured and disabled while on active duty, and the disability is service-related, we would get free lifetime medical care . . . and a pension.  True, that was kept.  But the pension was within poverty level and the medical treatment in military and VA hospitals had been shoddy.
 
"The expose on Walter Reed, the U.S. Army's premier hospital, by the Washington Post, on how our INJURED and disabled and brain-damaged soldiers were mistreated, was a blessing to many fellow veterans.
 
"It brought to light the SHODDY, and sometimes non-existent follow-up care, that those war-injured veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars received.  Pardon my French, but those war-injured veterans were treated like sh—t!
 
Hopefully, this will have a whirlpool effect and they would look into the disgraceful treatment given to veterans in other military and VA hospitals all over the country.
 
That was the reason why I said Representatives Filner and Honda and all those other morons fighting KUNO for the FilVets are all a bunch of hypocrites because their attention are focused only in helping out the FilVets.  I think these two clowns are merely out there to get Fil-Am votes.  
 
Nang-uuto lang, ika nga. 
 
The attention and the cry for help should not only be for the FilVets.  That is wrong!  It should be for ALL veterans, who fought for America!  
 
Charity begins at home!  America is our home now!  Before helping out the FilVets, we should help out the US Vets first!
 
To me, the FilVets issue is moot.  Through the years, it had been rejected over and over . . . YET we keep on begging, like those beggars ng mga makukulit in front of Quiapo Church and other churches all over the Philippines.  I am sorry to say, but we, Fil-Ams, have become mendicants, too, because of the FilVets issue.  
 
I do not want any part of that!
 
My primary concern lies with my fellow U.S. vets.  My sympathy is with them.  My loyalty lies with America first. To me, the problems that exist with the care of wounded U.S. vets should be the utmost concern.  Because that is the real INJUSTICE!    
 
Perhaps, the FilVets Equity issue is also an injustice.  Is it really?  Or, are we only after the money?  Whatever . . .  The cry for help by U.S. vets must come first before those of the FilVets.   ###

(Editor's Note: Jesse Jose is a retired US Navy chief journalist and a former deputy sheriff in Florida.  He has written for several military and civilian publications, including the Pacific Star and Stripes, Navy Times, All Hands and other AP/UPI-oriented civilian newspapers all over the country.  While in the Navy, he won three Chief of Information (CHINFO) Merit Awards for writing and the Thomas Jefferson Award for a photo feature and investigative reporting.  He lives in Seattle, Washington and writes his weekly column, A Cup o' Kapeng Barako from there.)
 
 


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Last Updated on Monday, 30 April 2007 22:55
 

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