In 1941, more than 250,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms and later fought under the American flag during World War II. Many made the ultimate sacrifice as both soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East and as guerilla fighters during the Imperial Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Later, many of these brave individuals became proud United States citizens. For over 60 years, Filipino veterans and community advocates have fought to obtain compensation for those who served with American soldiers during World War II.
Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, which the President signed into law, contained a provision creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund. Eligible veterans who are U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $15,000; eligible veterans who are not U.S. citizens receive a one-time payment of $9,000. The Department of Veterans Affairs established a process, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, to determine eligibility to receive payments from the Fund.
To date, over 18,000 claims have been approved. Many Filipino veterans may have been impeded from filing claims or believe their claims were improperly denied.
The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains the latest statistics on the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund at this link.
Interagency Working Group
To address their concerns, the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget, has launched an Interagency Working Group comprised of officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA).
Through the work of the Interagency Working group, the National Archives and Record Administration recently released a document that details the creation of the official Department of the Army Filipino Guerilla list. It was declassified in 1988 and is entitled, “U.S. Army Recognition Program of Philippine Guerrillas”. The report is available here.
This document details the creation by the U.S. Army in 1948 of the official Guerilla list that is being used to verify valid service for the FVEC. This is the first time that this invaluable historical document has been available to the general public.
The National Archives and Record Administration also released the National Personnel Records Center (NPRC) manual entitled “General Background and Miscellaneous Correspondence Procedures Unique to the Philippine Army Records”. This manual details the processing procedures that the NPRC uses to determine service in the Philippine Commonwealth Army of the United States Armed Forces Far East (USAFFE), or recognized Guerrilla forces in World War II. The manual is available here.
Philippine Archives Collection
The National Archives and Record Administration maintains the Philippine Archives Collection at NARA’s facility in College Park, Maryland. The Philippine Archives Collection is an extensive collection of Filipino World War II records including personal histories and diaries; unit histories; medical and death reports; documents on activities within guerrilla units and criminal behavior by guerrillas; applications for pay and benefits based on military or civilian service; claims by civilians who were pressed into service to repel the Japanese invasion; and claims for compensation by former guerrillas based on their support of the U.S. effort in the Philippines. The collection is open to the public. Learn more about the collection here.
Methods to obtain Filipino World War II Records
Generally, U.S. military records for veterans are obtained by submitting a SF-180 form.
However, the majority of Filipino World War II veterans will not be able to obtain records using this method, unless the veteran was member of the Regular, or “Old,” Philippine Scouts. Regular Philippine Scouts, or “old scouts,” were part of the U.S. Army throughout their existence.
Most Filipino World War II veterans will find their records, if available, in the Philippine Archives Collection at The National Archives and Record Administration in College Park, Maryland. This collection is open to the public. The research hours and pull times for records are available here.
Researchers are also available for hire to search the archives. A full list of researchers is available here.