JFAV, A Short Story
January 12, 2014
JFAV, A Short Story
The Justice For Filipino American Veterans( JFAV) was formed in December 16, 1998. It came into being after the division in the December 7 Movement (D7M), the first Filipino World War II Veterans organization that started the political struggle of the veterans for equity and justice that was formed in December 7, 1993.
The bone of contention was 1) equity or nothing, meaning demand the full payment of back wages (back pay during WWII) and full recognition ( meaning full payment of arrears or unpaid benefits from 1946 to the present that amount to $ 43B 2) incremental or piece by piece legislation that will culminate to full equity and total recognition as American veterans.
JFAV opted for the 2nd option and and cooperated with the lobby in the US Congress by conducting grass root lobbying in California where majority of the veterans are residing and living. By 1998 we were able to realize benefits like:
1) 75% of the SSI can be brought to the Philippines when the veterans comes home
2) burial benefits in US national cemeteries
3) 50 cents to a dollar for POWs. By 2000, California provided 25% of the benefits that made it for the California veterans to get 100% of their SSI and
4) by 2004, health access for veterans for DVA hospitals.
But all of those are only baby steps sans the full recognition as American veterans and benefits.In summary this was the right step at that time.
New Wave of Struggle
JFAV started lobbying in the US Congress when the paid lobbyist stopped lobbying work for the veterans in 2009. They declared when ARRA was passed. that “they have attained equity” and gave up on the lobby efforts saying that lump sum for Filipinos was already equity.
The problem with the ARRA law, while it recognized the Filipino WWI veterans as “American Veterans” partially so it can give them the one time benefit, out of the 43,000 who applied for lump sum, the DVA only granted 18,000 the lump sum. More than 52% ( or 25,000) were denied.
Adding insult to injury, the widows( more than 60,000) of them were excluded from the lump sum.
The JFAV declared other wise that ” lump sum is equity.” By 2010, JFAV filed a class suit against the DVA and against the lump sum until it reached the California Court of Appeals in 2013. In 2014, they CA denied the appeals thus JFAV filed a Certiorari in the US Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court denied the JFAV case not on its merits but on the question of technicality. But the JFAV will still pursue litigation against the DVA and the US Congress.
On the lobbying front at the US Congress, the JFAV filed the Filipino Veterans Recogniton ACt of 2011 and when it failed to get the a hearing on the Veterans Committee it filed again the same bill on 2013 this time a joint Senate and House Bill sponsored by Senator Brian Shatz 0f Hawaii and Rep. Jackie Speier(D-San Francisco)
At the same time parallel to lobbying in US Congress and litigation, JFAV leads mass protest actions for the last 31 years when the veterans in the US started forming their organizations to struggle for equity and justice with the formation of the first veterans organization in LA, the United Filipino American Veterans(UFAV) against martial law and the US-Marcos Dictatorship as well this racial discrimination and injustice.
When JFAV was formed it re-started protest actions for equity and justice until it initiated the annual Veterans Day parade in Historic Filipinotown in 2000 and later the Protest March in DTLA starting 2009.
For the last three years we now hold protest rallies in Hollywood.JFAV has been lobbying the US Congress for the last 22 years.
But at the same time JFAV also is organizing and mobilizing as well as building chapters in states where there are Filipino Communities like Hawaii,California,New York, New Jersey, Washington, Virginia,Maryland. Nevada and Florida,
JFAV has formed widows and relatives associations like the AWARE and S4PACE and also are looking for the rights and welfare of this ageing senior population.
JFAV has started a feeding program and food distribution in FACLA in the city of Los Angeles as an example. This with the help of organizations like the Filipino Ministry of the Wilshire Methodist Church in cooperation with JFAV-LA.