U.S. to pay 'forgotten' Filipino World War II veterans

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More than 60 years after reneging on a promise to the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who fought for the United States during World War II, the U.S. government will soon be sending out checks -- to the few who are still alive.

During the war, the Philippines was a U.S. commonwealth. The U.S. military promised full veterans benefits to Filipinos who volunteered to fight. More than 250,000 joined.

Then, in 1946, President Truman signed the Rescission Act, taking that promise away.

Today, only about about 15,000 of those troops are still alive, according to the American Coalition for Filipino Veterans. A provision tucked inside the stimulus bill that President Obama signed calls for releasing $198 million that was appropriated last year for those veterans. Those who have become U.S. citizens get $15,000 each; non-citizens get $9,000.

Some historians say financial concerns were paramount: The cost of funding full veterans benefits to all those Filipinos, particularly in the wake of the costly war, would have been a heavy burden.

The honor comes too late for the many Filipino veterans who passed away waiting for this moment. Families of deceased veterans are not eligible to receive the money.

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