HONOLULU (Nov. 1, 2016) — U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) on Tuesday hosted a roundtable of leaders from Hawaii’s Filipino community. (VIDEO)
The meeting was to update the veterans on the legislation that Gabbard introduced to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino Veterans of World War II (H.R.2737). The bill recently crossed a critical milestone and, after decades of attempted recognition for Filipino World War II veterans, is closer to passage than ever before, Gabbard said.
“Congressional Gold Medal bills require two thirds of the House, or at least 290 members, to sign on to the bill before it can move forward,” Gabbard said. ” I’m happy to report to you today that we’ve exceeded this with 309 co-sponsors, with colleagues representing both parties and nearly every state and territory in our nation supporting legislation to recognize these men for their service and sacrifice.
Gabbard announced said that despite their critical role in the Pacific, Filipino World War II veterans have never been recognized by Congress for their service. The U.S. government has waited far too long to recognize these heroes alongside units like the Tuskeegee Airmen and Hawaii’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal, she said.
“With just 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans alive today, time is of the essence for Congress to pass this legislation and honor these courageous men with the long overdue recognition they deserve,” Gabbard said.
Gabbard introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.2737) to award the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Filipino veterans in 2015. The bill acknowledges over 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag against the Imperial Forces of Japan during World War II.
Today there are 305 members of Congress who have signed on as co-sponsors of the congresswoman’s bill, and Gabbard said she is working with House leadership to schedule it for a vote. With support from Hawaii’s Filipino community and organizations across the country, Gabbard said she hopes to pass the legislation before the end of the year.
At the Tuesday roundtable with Gabbard, the group also discussed important issues regarding U.S.-Philippines relations, building greater understanding of Filipino history, culture, and contributions in the U.S., higher education, immigration and family reunification, transition programs for service members entering the civilian workforce, the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program and other matters.