FASGI FilVET Health Project Survey Highlights
Difficulties Faced by Filipino WW II Veterans
by Richard Bis
FilVET Health Project Coordinator
Los Angeles, CA, July 31, 2001- Advocates, public officials, community members, and Filipino WWII Veterans attended a press conference held at the Filipino American Service Group, Inc. (FASGI) and were shocked to hear the results of a comprehensive health and socioeconomic survey study among veterans in California.
FASGI, a leading Filipino Veterans' advocate and service provider agency
in Southern California announced the results of the study conducted by the FilVET Health Project with the help of the Pat Ganio and Eric Lachica of the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans and Frank Quevedo of the Southern California Edison. Launched last February 3, 2001 FilVET Health has collected over 400 surveys and assisted Filipino WWII Veterans in two health fairs.
Fifty-nine percent of the surveys were collected from veterans living in Southern California (34% of which are from the City of Los Angeles) while forty-one percent of the surveys received were from Northern California (10% from San Jose and 9% from San Francisco).
The study funded by the California Endowment and the California Wellness Foundation showed that most Filipino WWII Veterans suffer from multiple illness of which cardiovascular, musculoskeletal, and/or psychosocial problems are among the top three health problems.
"The survey results are very dramatic. Filipino WWII Veterans suffer from multiple physical and emotional ailments along with several barriers to health care access and services such as poverty level income, lack of access to Veterans Administration Hospitals and services, language limitations, and lack of family companionship," said Susan E. Maquindang, FASGI Executive Director.
The study also reported that loneliness was the biggest problem in the psychosocial category with some individuals reporting suicidal ideations.
Almost 75% of the respondents reported feeling lonely and some reported contemplating suicide.
"A large number of Filipino Veterans are under mental and emotional duress. Services to the veterans and educational outreach to them should address this lack of social and emotional ties especially when only 34% of them live by themselves without any family members."
According to Faustino Baclig, Bataan Death March survivor, "This survey study proves what we have been saying all along. Filipino WWII Veterans are living in difficult conditions while suffering several health problems and issues."
In World War II over 200,000 Filipino soldiers were drafted by a proclamation of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The Filipino WWII Veterans believed that they would be recognized as US veterans with full benefits.
However, after the war, Congress passed the Recession Act of 1946 which prevented most of the veterans from receiving recognition and benefits. "The average income is horrifying and shocking," remarked Assemblywoman Jackie Goldberg (D-Los Angeles), a staunch supporter of the Filipino Veterans, referring to the study statistics which reported that the average income of the veterans is only $698 while spending over 55% on housing related costs.
The poverty level income has caused many veterans to compensate their living and disposable income. "There are days when you see veterans picking up cardboards, papers, and cans in the street. Some veterans even sell their blood just to earn extra money."
The report also recommends several immediate solutions towards improving the plight of the Filipino WWII Veterans. Considering that the average age of the respondents was 78 years old and many believe that five veterans die each day, FASGI emphasized the need for outreach activities tailored for the Filipino Veteran population, cultural and linguistic training for health and social service organizations in areas with large numbers of veterans, hastening the veterans petition for family members, low income housing, and full support of veterans benefits to reduce the economic and social burden faced by many of the veterans.
The press conference was also attended by Veteran's advocates such as Stewart Kwoh of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center, Mel Ilomin and Tony Ricasa from the Office of State Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, Cynthia Endo-Rodriguez from the Office of US Congressman Xavier Becerra, Heather Repenning and Ben Fiss from the Office of Councilman Eric Garcetti, Cres Abad the Commander of United Filipino American Veterans (UFAV-LA), and Franco Arcebal the ACFV Vice-president for Membership.
For more information about the study please contact Richard Bis at the
Filipino American Service Group, Inc. at 213-487-9804.
Kabataang maka-BAYAN (KmB-Pro People Youth)