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Submission For The Record of Jenny L. Batongmalaque, M.D., Filipino Veterans Foundation, Executive Director

I am Dr. Jenny Batongmalaque, a practicing geriatrician and the Executive Director of the Filipino Veterans Foundation, a charitable, 501 (c ) 3 organization. I am respectfully submitting my testimony on the current status of the Filipino American WWII Veterans residing in the Los Angeles County. The facts and figures have been taken from a 10-year longitudinal study following 300 Filipino WWII Veterans in the cohort study group residing in the Los Angeles County within the span of 10 years from 1996 to 2006. The report has been published in the Weekend Balita on December, 2006.

The instruments used in the survey were the standard questionnaire forms used in conducting a comprehensive geriatric assessment used by the GRECC program of the VAMC-UCLA Consortium which covers five domains:

  1. physical status
  2. mental status
  3. psycho-social status
  4. support system and environmental check
  5. the value system.

The second instrument used was the Quality of Life Assessment

The conclusions to these studies are as follows:

  • Today, less than 5 percent are currently in the cohort study group .A third have been known to have died and two-thirds have returned to the Philippines.
  • Profile of the Filipino WWII Veteran residing in Los Angeles County:  They come from all parts of the Philippines and speak different dialects and sub-languages. A third of them were members of the Philippine Commonwealth Army, and inducted into the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). They are the fastest disappearing group of cohorts in the study. The largest group are recognized regular Guerrillas, and less than a third belong to the New Philippine Scouts inducted post-war and deployed to Okinawa, Guam or Saipan. They are the younger age group.
  • The average is 83 years.  40% reside alone in the United States, due to widowhood or their spouse has remained in the Philippines. 40% have their spouses here in the U.S., and 20% have live-in companions or care-providers.
  • Their average Supplemental Security Income is $700 monthly.
  • They have multiple health problems. They take an average of 5 medications, had been brought to the ER by paramedics at least once, because of dizziness or falls, heart attacks or strokes. They have a home health nurse visiting them weekly upon discharge from the hospital.
  • Inability in applying for disability Veterans benefits claims because of the current existing public law that negates their service, and their conditions today are largely due to effects of their advanced age rather than service-connected disabilities.
  • Access to Healthcare referrals and resources. Their Medicare-Medicaid health insurance provides them better access to hospitals and neighborhood physicians. But they prefer to be serviced by the VA to add merit to their claims. However, having non-service connected disabilities they have low or no priority at all.
  • Lack of access to affordable housing placements. The rising rents in the Los County have forced them to regroup and stay temporarily in the living rooms of friends. Their homelessness is not apparent in skid row but their frequent change of addresses and no telephone contact alerts the FVF of their housing problems. The list for seeking an affordable, assisted living facility is getting longer by the day.
  • Concerns of living alone in the U.S. and meeting end-of-life issues.
  • Petitioning for their children to provide care and safety for them while in America. Because of language and culture, they would rather be cared for by those whom they can articulate their tangible and intangible needs. “If I only can afford to pay for my health care in the Philippines, I would rather go home now.”

The Filipino Veterans Foundation, an advocacy, 501 (c ) 3 charitable organization has delivered the following without public assistance so far:

  • Screening an average of 20 claims a week being reviewed by our volunteer Advocates, Facilitators and Liaisons with the Veterans Service Officers at the County and State Dept of VA with some success (25%). The rest are pending claims (75%) due to the current public law.
  • Organized the Veterans Center Association, a membership organization of more than 300 members affiliated to the FVF as direct beneficiaries for services as needed
  • Arranged for an Average of 10,000 food bank distributions a year.
  • Facilitated the establishment of the first Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Support and Therapy group in Los Angeles County, conducted by the Medical and Mental Health providers of the VA at the FVF venue.
  • Senior Assessments of health database collected over 10 years is extensive and detailed. Chronic conditions are as follows rated from most frequent:
    1.  Arthritis  7.  Diabetes
    2.  Hearing Impairment 8.  Prostate Disease
    3.  Cataracts 9.  Cancer
    4.  Heart Disease 10.  Alzheimer’s Disease, early onset
    5.  Hypertension 11.  Ulcers and GERD
    6.  Pulmonary Disease 12.  Miscellaneous
  • Establishing a network of veterans service organizations and medical service organizations
  • Promoting the preservation of Historical and Cultural Values where the Filipino soldier fought side by side with the American soldier:

Four Major events in the history of WWII are observed annually:

  • Dec. 8, 1941: Outbreak of WWII in the Philippines
  • April 9, 1942: Day of Valor, the Fall of Bataan
  • July 26, 1941: The Establishment of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East
  • October 20, 1944: Leyte Landing and the Liberation of the Philippines
       
  • Memorials for the death of an Unknown Soldier and a Veteran residing alone in the U.S., and known only to God, has been observed by FVF and VCA with little funds and fanfare, quietly obtaining an American burial flag for the family as a token of their lifelong struggle, and giving them the final salute in America.
  • Gathering all widows, and sons and daughters of the Filipino WWII Veterans to keep the flame for liberty and justice going, so that future generations will long remember the struggles of the Filipino-American WWII Veterans in his old age, residing in America.

GOALS OF THE FILIPINO VETERANS FOUNDATION for 2007 and thereafter:

1.      Legislative Action

  • A Push for Full Equity before the last Filipino WWII Veteran dies in our midst.
  • To include the contribution of the Filipino WWII soldier in the annals of American history in public school books so that no child is left ignorant of it.

2.      Safe Haven

  • Building the BAYANI Center, a Heroes Center, a holistic assisted living facility, in the City of Los Angeles, where the predominant number of surviving Filipino-American WWII Veterans reside. A Heroes Hall with historical artifacts and memorabilia will add to the attraction of the younger generation to interact with the surviving heroes. This venue is open to all disadvantaged elderly individuals who have been exposed to an armed global conflict in their early life without preference to race, nationality, belief, culture, language or gender.

3.      Raise Capital Funds

  • Seek for Public and Private Support to continue the mission of the Filipino Veterans Foundation to improve the quality of life of disadvantaged Seniors and Veterans, regardless of race, nationality, belief, culture, language or gender.
  • in their level of understanding in language and culture..
  • while attending to the needs.

4.      Network with the Veterans Memorial Hospital where we can secure the continuity of care in the Philippines for those who have opted to return to their homeland.