8.04.2006

The Forgotten Veterans


A friend of mine, Marnette, wrote a piece, for VoiceofSanDiego.org, on the continual struggle of Pilipino-American veterans fighting to recieve recognition for the sacrifices that they had offered the United States during WWII.

Peep it:

The Forgotten Veterans
By MARNETTE FEDERIS Voice Staff Writer

Friday, Aug. 4, 2006 On assigned days, Joe Esloa is in charge of unlocking the Filipino American Senior Citizens office at a senior center in Mira Mesa. He looks on at a small group practicing traditional folk dances in another room, and laughs as he remembers the days when he too would dance.

"But not any anymore, I’m a little too old," Esloa said in his native Tagalog.

When Esloa was still young enough to dance, he kept his legs busy during World War II, hauling fish and salt to the mountains near his town in the Philippines. He was the supplier for guerilla groups fighting against the Japanese, who had occupied the entire country.

After the war, Esloa joined the New Philippine Scouts, a unit working with the U.S. Armed Forces. Members were trained for combat, but their focus was on rebuilding in the Philippines and Japan, which were destroyed during the war. Esloa remembers constructing bridges and other structures in Okinawa until the Scouts was dissolved in 1949.

"Training wasn’t so bad," he said. "You learn discipline and love of the country."

There are many veterans like Esloa who gather at senior centers and community meeting places around San Diego, sharing war stories and battle scars. But amidst the chatter at the senior center in Mira Mesa, there a unique element: the uncertainty of the actual status of these men. They've never been recognized by the U.S. government as veterans of World War II. They talk about disability claims that have not been approved, visa petitions for adult sons and daughters still in the Philippines, and friends who have recently passed on without the full benefits once promised to them.

Continue reading...

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