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    The 1946 Rescission Acts: Betrayal and Unjust Treatment

    imageFor Immediate Release
    February 16, 2017
    Contact: Jon Melegrito, Tel. 202-361-0296

     

     

    On February 18, 1946, two months after Filipino soldiers completed their wartime service to the United States, Congress passed the first of two Rescission Acts stripping them of their status as U.S. veterans and effectively denying them their rightful benefits. At the time, the Philippines was a U.S. territory and Filipinos were considered U.S. nationals.

    Although they were sworn in by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as members of the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), they were deprived of equal protection and equal treatment as U.S. nationals – rights enjoyed by their fellow American soldiers who fought the same battles in defense of the same United States flag.
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    FilVetREP Mourns Passing of Col. Orlando M. Suarez, Philippine Defense and Armed Forces Attaché to the USA.

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    FOR RELEASE

    February 12, 2017

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, 202-361-0296

     

    FilVetREP Mourns Passing of Col. Orlando M. Suarez,
    Philippine Defense and Armed Forces
    Attaché to the USA.

     

    Washington, D.C. “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Col. Suarez,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “His wife, Gemma Francisca I. Calalo-Suarez, and their four children are in our thoughts and prayers as they mourn the death of their loved one. We wish to convey to the family our deepest sympathies.”

    Col. Suarez, who served at the Philippine Embassy since 2016 as Defense and Armed Forces Attaché (ADAFA) to USA, suffered a stroke on February 6 while on an official trip to Honolulu, Hawaii. He died today at Straub Hospital. He was 50 years old.

    During his brief stint in Washington, D.C., Col. Suarez was very supportive of FilVetREP’s efforts to secure the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino World War II veterans.

    A graduate of the Philippine Military Academy, Col. Suarez was commissioned to the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 1988. He earned a Master’s Degree in Public Management from the Development Academy of the Philippines in 2010.

    His remains will be flown to the Philippines for burial.

     

    # # #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

  • U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who sponsored the Congressional Gold Medal Award legislation in the House, congratulates Filipino World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima following passage of the Congressional Gold Medal bill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Gabbard's Office).
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    President Obama Signs Bill Granting Recognition to Filipino World War II Veterans

     

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    President Obama Signs Bill Granting Recognition to Filipino World War II Veterans

    Next steps planned for newest Congressional Gold Medal recipients

    Washington, D.C. Seventeen months after Congress introduced the Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, a bill granting recognition to Filipino and American soldiers who served in the Pacific theater, their heretofore forgotten story of uncommon valor became enshrined in U.S. history when President Obama signed the measure into law on December 14, 2016.

    But it took more than seven decades for this moment to arrive.

    “After enduring 75 years of injustice and humiliation, our Filipino World War II veterans finally regained their honor and dignity with the signing of this historic bill,” said Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), Chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP). “With deep gratitude, our nation has now fully recognized the service and sacrifice of our brave heroes who fought valiantly under the American flag.”

    To FilVetREP Board Member Christy Poisot of Houston, TX, granddaughter of a Filipino World War II veteran, “this historic act by Congress and the President of the United States provides the foundation for us to ensure that their amazing stories of heroism are now part of the American story. This means my grandfather and my family can have closure. They will be honored and not forgotten.”

    Adds FilVetREP Board Member Sony Busa, of Annandale, VA: “It is said that a person dies twice, the first time when they breathe their last, and the next time when their name is mentioned for the last time. By awarding the Congressional Gold Medal, especially to those who have passed away, our veterans will not die a second time. They will always be remembered. This is the least we can do for these honored veterans who have sacrificed so much so that we may enjoy the freedoms we have today.”

    Bookending President Obama’s Administration in the closing days of his Presidency

    In lauding Obama’s action, Taguba recalls that among Obama’s first acts in office was the signing in January 2009 of a bill creating the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation (FVEC) Fund, which grants a one-time lump sum payment to Filipino World War II veterans. “We also remember his most recent executive action this year to launch the Filipino WWII Veterans Parole Program, allowing veterans to reunite with their families,” he points out. “He has been a champion for our veterans throughout his time in public service on the national stage, and we salute him for his leadership.”

    Taguba also acknowledges the tireless efforts of former Senators Daniel Inouye (D-HI) and Daniel Akaka (D-HI), who spent most of their years in Congress fighting for veterans equity rights. “They inspired others to champion the veterans’ cause – notably Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dean Heller (R-NV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Harry Reid (D-NV) in the Senate, and U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Joe Heck (R-NV), Mark Takai (D-HI), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Mike Honda (D-CA) in the House. Thanks to them, the 18,000 veterans who are still alive don’t have to wait any longer. We recognize Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI) posthumously for his efforts on behalf of the veterans.”

    “Recognition, after all, is what our veterans need more than anything else, an official thank you from the government that ordered them to fight under the American flag,” Taguba points out. “But it can only be demonstrated with Congress awarding them the Congressional Gold Medal. They are most deserving of this honor, and we are heartened that in February 1946, Congress stripped them of their rights and benefits. In November 30, 2016, Congress passed the congressional gold medal bill to rectify a grave injustice.”

    A long journey

    Thelma Sevilla of Seattle, WA., daughter of a Philippine Scout, remembers “the sacrifices, and perseverance of the many Filipino soldiers who served the United States. Their journey before, during and after the war for justice and recognition has been a long and arduous one. And now that journey nears the end.  In my 20 plus years of Filipino Veterans advocacy work, I have come to know and understand their courage, patience, and quiet strength, waiting for justice that’s long overdue.”

    In Seattle, a number of living Filipino veterans are looking forward to receiving their medals, Sevilla said. Among them are 97-year-old Gregorio Garcia, 99-year-old Escolastico Galarosa and 98-year-old Joe Taton. “Along with countless fellow Bataan and Corregidor survivors and POWs who have since passed away, they would be thrilled just knowing that America has not forgotten them.”

    In Washington, D.C. 99-year-old Celestino Almeda, 88-year-old Rey Cabacar and 86-year-old Rudy Panaglima, are also delighted that the day they’ve been waiting for finally came. “My children will now have something to pass on to their children and their children’s children,” Cabacar says. “I’m swelling with pride that the America I served has come through for me and my fellow veterans.”

    Way ahead

    With the bill’s signing, FilVetREP is now planning the way ahead for the veterans to mark this historic event. Immediate plans include providing information for veterans and their families on how to get involved. The FilVetREP website, www.filvetrep.org, will be a definitive source of information, with an FAQ, updates on resources and events.

    FilVetREP will also work with the U.S. Mint and the U.S. Commission on Fine Arts to design the Congressional Gold Medal. More than 20,000 bronze replicas of the medal will be produced, which will be individually awarded to eligible veterans.

    “FilVetREP has vowed to raise the funds to cover the cost of these medals,” Taguba said. “We also need to plan a national exhibition and create an education program, which will enshrine the Congressional Gold Medal, and the veterans whose service it recognizes, for generations to come.”

    “Given these activities, fundraising is going to be our main focus in the coming months,” Taguba said further. “We are counting on the Filipino American community, advocates, sponsors, and partners across the country to give generously and work just as hard in building our financial resources so we can accomplish our mission of preserving our veterans’ story for posterity.”

    “Now the real work begins,” FilVetREP Outreach Director Ben de Guzman states. “We continue to engage the White House and the Congress to make sure our lawmakers fully manifest the gratitude of a grateful nation for these veterans. We’ll be working with folks in Washington and around the country to make sure we lift up the veterans and that our celebratory events for them are worthy of the sacrifices they made in the war and have continued to make in the 70 plus years since.”

    Adds Nonie Cabana of San Antonio, TX., and a FilVetREP Deputy Regional Director: “We will also continue to engage our grassroots supporters who have been pivotal in securing the needed votes from the Senate and the House. This is a huge victory for the Filipino American community because we applied ourselves vigorously, in so many different ways of organizing and mobilizing, forming alliances at local and state levels, and touching the hearts and minds of citizens who rallied behind a worthy cause. We owe our veterans a huge debt of gratitude and the least we can do is make sure we keep their memory alive.”

    “Most importantly, to our Veterans of WWII, we proudly salute you with the utmost reverence for your distinguished service to a grateful Nation,” Taguba said.

    #          #          #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

    Contact: Jon Melegrito 

    jdmelegrito@gmail.com

    Tel. 202-361-0296

     

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    Commemorating Pearl Harbor and the heroism of Filipino World War II veterans

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    FOR RELEASE

    December 7, 2016

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, 202-361-0296

     

    Commemorating Pearl Harbor and the heroism of Filipino World War II veterans

     

    Washington, D.C. Seventy-five years ago today, Japanese fighter planes bombed Pearl Harbor. On the same day, Japanese forces attacked the Philippines, a U.S. territory at the time. More than 250,000 Filipino soldiers responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-arms to defend the Philippines and the United States. They would go on to endure some of the most horrific conditions anywhere in the world, including the Bataan Death March and the ravages of the bombing of Manila, second only to Warsaw in its destruction.

    They would not accept defeat. They would not quit. They would not leave a fallen comrade.

    Half of them died in battle fighting under the American flag, making the ultimate sacrifice as soldiers in the U.S. Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE) and as guerrilla fighters during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Those who survived suffered the scars of battle and the invisible wounds of war.

    They were forced to endure additional humiliation and a slap in the face when the U.S. Congress passed the 1946 Rescission Acts, which stripped them of their rights and promised benefits.

    Righting a wrong

    “This extraordinary moment can only be consoled with the award of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal,” says Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba (Ret), chairman of the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project. “Through all this time, the veterans – those who have passed and those still alive today, remained steadfast and resolute hoping our country they had willingly defended would right the wrong brought upon them. Their determination to gain recognition was long and arduous.”

    On November 30, Congress finally passed legislation granting recognition to the 260,000 Filipino soldiers for their service and sacrifice. It took more than 72 years.

    “The passage of this bill on the eve of the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941, and the attack on the Philippines on Dec 8, 1941 is a momentous event, which is now enshrined in U.S. history,” adds Taguba. “Commemorating the anniversary of ‘the day of infamy’ and the courageous response of Filipino and American soldiers to call to duty, should serve to remind us that their uncommon valor should never be forgotten, that this American story should be preserved for posterity. Always remembering what they did is the best way to protect our children and their children from the horrors of war.”

    Today, less than 16,000 remain, most of them ailing and in their 90s.

    Global conflict

    The Pearl Harbor bombing led to a global conflict. As a Commonwealth of the United States, the Philippines was inevitably drawn into the war. Filipino soldiers fought the Japanese Imperial Forces from December 1941 to December 1946. Thousands were killed, wounded and captured as Prisoners of War. Thousands more fought as guerrillas until the enemy was finally defeated, liberating the country and preserving freedom and democracy in the United States.

    “While Americans of all ages remember Pearl Harbor as a key event that triggered our nation’s involvement in World War II, we rightly commemorate the sacrifices of the brave men and women who fought for our freedom in the years that followed,” Taguba points out. “But much less is known or remembered of the thousands of Filipino and American soldiers who fought bravely for our freedom more than half a century ago and half a world away. Granting them recognition ensures that their story is now a significant part of American history. Honoring and remembering them is the best way to keep their memory alive.”

    They are America’s Filipino Soldiers of World War II. They are part of our American story.

     

     

    # # #

    The Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project (FilVetREP), is a nonpartisan,501(c)(3) tax-exempt, community-based, all-volunteer national initiative whose mission is to obtain national recognition of Filipino and American WW11 soldiers across the United States and the Philippines for their wartime service to the U.S. and the Philippines from July 26, 1941 to December 31, 1946. For more information about Filipino WWII veterans and how to get involved, visit our website at www.filvetrep.org or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

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    OCA Applauds the Passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    1 December 2016

    CONTACT: Kham Moua | Senior Policy and Communications Manager

    202 223 5500 | nlee@ocanational.org

     

    WASHINGTON, D.C. – OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates applauds Congressional passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 (H.R. 2737).

    On Wednesday November 30th, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to award a collective Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino veterans of World War II in recognition of their service to the United States. The Congressional Gold Medal is among the highest civilian honors in the United States. Until last year, Filipino veterans were denied the family immigration benefits that they were promised and went largely unrecognized in popular narratives about how the war was won.

    “We applaud Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for introducing this bill in the House. The passage of this legislation acknowledges the critical role Filipino and Filipino American soldiers played in protecting the United States during World War II.,” said Leslie Moe-Kaiser, OCA National President. “For far too long our courageous Filipino and Filipino American veterans have been denied the rights and privileges they were owed for their service, many of whom have died waiting for proper recognition by the American government. Over 200,000 Filipinos fought on behalf of the United States and today only 15,000 remain. We hope that this Congressional Gold Medal may finally honor their distinguished and crucial role in American history. With the formal recognition of other distinguished units in World War II, such as the Navajo Code Talkers, Japanese American Nisei soldiers, and Puerto Rican soldiers, this act will serve to correct and broaden the narrative regarding the contributions of units of color in our nation’s military history.”

    OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).

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    A Message from FilVetREP Chairman Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba (Ret)

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    December 2, 2016 

    Ladies and Gentlemen, 

     

    Yesterday at 5:29pm, Nov 30, 2016, we witnessed from the gallery in Capitol Hill, the passage by Act of Congress of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015.  Simply, this was a highly emotional and historic period in US history. 

     

    This historic act by the United States Congress to recognize the gallantry, selfless sacrifice, and honorable service of the 260,000 Filipino soldiers – men and women – who served under the United States Forces Far East in defense of the United States and Philippines has been long awaited. It took nearly 75 years to gain this recognition.  While we all know and appreciate what the veterans had done to accomplish their mission, how they suffered deeply the injustice and indignation, and how their courage and loyalty to country carried their hopes through these long years, their day of justice became reality on Nov 30, 2016 – on the eve of Dec 8th – the day the Philippines was attacked by the Japanese Imperial Forces.  

     

    The Congressional Gold Medal is now their symbol of dignity and honor restored, and the triumph they had sought for a very long time.

     

    I want to personally thank each and every one of you for accomplishing this mission for the veterans and their loved ones.  We did this all for them and nothing more. There is no greater act we could have done than help them with their cause to be recognized, at last, by a grateful Nation and by an Act of Congress.  They deserve this more than we can ever imagine.  We are deeply and eternally grateful to them for preserving our lives in this country and Philippines.  They will always serve as the beacon of inspiration for all Filipinos, Filipino-Americans, and Americans alike.

     

    But the work does not stop here.  We have much more to do in the near term.  I would hope you will continue to help endure the FILVETREP mission and extend the legacy of the veterans, and the significance of the Congressional Gold Medal for generations to come.  

     

    We have now elevated and preserved their prominence in American history. 

     

    Thank you for your volunteerism and service.  HOOAAAAH!

     

    Sincerely 

    Tony Taguba

    Major General, US Army Retired

    Chairman, FILVETREP

  • U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who sponsored the Congressional Gold Medal Award legislation in the House, congratulates Filipino World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima following passage of the Congressional Gold Medal bill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Gabbard's Office).

    CAPAC Applauds Passage of Filipino WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act

    CAPAC Applauds Passage of Filipino WWII Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act

    Washington, DC – Today, the U.S House of Representatives voted to pass S.1555, the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. The bill will recognize Filipino veterans who fought for the United States during World War II with a Congressional Gold Medal, our nation’s highest civilian honor. The Senate passed this bill unanimously over the summer, and it will now be sent to the President to be signed into law. Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus released the following statements:

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  • U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, who sponsored the Congressional Gold Medal Award legislation in the House, congratulates Filipino World War II veteran Rudy Panaglima following passage of the Congressional Gold Medal bill. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Gabbard's Office).
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    Congress Approves Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino World War II Veterans

    Arrangements for President Obama’s signature for historic legislation to be announced

    Washington, D.C. Today, the U.S. Congress finally granted national recognition to the 260,000 Filipino and American soldiers who served under the United States Army Forces of the Far East (USAFFE). They have waited for more than 72 years.

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    Advocates call on the House of Representatives to remember Veterans’ Day and pass the Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal bill

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    November 11, 2016

    Contact: Jon Melegrito, 202-361-0296

     

    Advocates call on the House of Representatives to remember Veterans’ Day and pass the Filipino World War II Veterans Congressional Gold Medal bill

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  • UPDATE ON THE CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL LEGISLATION – Request for Waiver of Rule 28 of the Rules of the House Republican Conference

    The Senate has passed S.1555 – Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act by unanimous consent, and the measure is now pending before the House Committee on Administration. The House has 305 cosponsorships from both Democrats and Republicans for H.R. 2737 – Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. Both bills have exceeded the requisite supermajority cosponsorships.

    Request for a Waiver of Rule 28 of the Rules of the House Republican Conference 

    It is our understanding that Rule 28 of the House Republican Conference prohibits the Republican Leader from scheduling, or requesting to have scheduled, any bill or resolution for consideration under suspension of the Rules which “directs the Secretary of the Treasury to strike a Congressional Gold Medal . . . unless the recipient is a natural person.” See Rule 28(a)(7)(A)

    It appears that the House Republican Conference has interpreted Rule 28(a)(7)(A) to preclude awarding of a Congressional Gold Medal without a waiver of the Rules. A waiver of the Rules can be granted by a majority of the House Republican Conference.

    We have sent a letter to each of the members of House Republican Conference requesting a waiver of the rules of the House Republican Conference.  We need your help by tweeting, calling, emailing, and writing these members to encourage them to waive Rule 28.

    See the letters and contacts below:

    Representative Paul Ryan, Wisconsin’s 1st district, Speaker of the House

    Twitter: @SpeakerRyan

    Website: https://paulryan.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-0600, Fax: (202) 225-2012, Toll-Free: (888) 909-RYAN (7926)

     

    Representative Kevin McCarthy, California’s 23rd district, House Majority Leader

    Twitter: @GOPLeader

    Website: https://kevinmccarthy.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-2915, Fax: (202) 225-2908

     

    Representative Steve Scalise, Louisiana’s 1st district, Majority Whip

    Twitter: @SteveScalise

    Website: https://scalise.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-3015, Hammond LA office Phone: 985-340-2185

     

    Representative Greg Walden, Oregon’s 2nd district, Chair – National Republican Committee

    Twitter: @repgregwalden

    Website: https://walden.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-6730, Medford OR Office Phone:541-776-4646

     

    Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Chair – Republican Conference

    Twitter: @cathymcmorris

    Website: https://mcmorris.house.gov

    Phone: 202-225-2006 , Spokane: 509-353-2374

     

    Representative Lynn Jenkins, Kansas’s 2nd district, Vice Chair – Republican Conference

    Twitter: @RepLynnJenkins

    Website: https://lynnjenkins.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-6601, Topeka KS office: 785-234-LYNN (5966)

     

    Representative Virginia Foxx, North Carolina’s 5th district, Secretary – Republican Conference

    Twitter: @virginiafoxx

    Website: http://foxx.house.gov

    Phone: (202) 225-2071, Boone NC Office Phone: 828-265-0240

     

    Representative Luke Messer, Indiana’s 6th district, Chair – Committee on Policy

    Twitter: @RepLukeMesser

    Website: https://messer.house.gov

    Phone: 202-225-3021, Muncie, IN Phone: 765-747-5566

     


    Suggested text for your emails:

    We are encouraged by the overwhelming support of 306 co-sponsors in the House for HR 2737, the bill that would award the Congressional Gold Medal for Filipino and American veterans who served in World War II.  The Senate had already passed the companion bill in July. We respectfully urge you to approve HR 2737 now so that our veterans, who have waited for 72 years, will finally earn recognition for their service and sacrifice. We are calling on you to pass this bill before the current legislative session ends this year. Thank you.   

    Suggested phone script for calls:


    “Hello!  My name is [insert your name] and I would like to speak with the staffer working on veterans issues.”

    “Hello!  My name is [insert your name] and I would like [insert Congressmember’s name] to pass HR 2737, the Filipino Veterans Congressional Gold Medal Act, this year. Over 200,000 Filipino soldiers were called into service by President Roosevelt on July 26, 1941 and served in the most grueling conditions in the World War II. Fewer than 16,000 remain and the Congressional Gold Medal will be a fitting tribute to their selfless service in war. This bill, HR 2737 will provide them with that tribute. These veterans are in their 90s, and with over 300 cosponsors, HR 2737 has overwhelming support and must be passed without delay.

    “Can I count on [Congressmember’s name] to support passage of this legislation this year?”

    If Yes: “Thank you! We are grateful for the Congressmember’s support!”

    If No: “I appreciate your response. Can you tell me if there are specific reasons or constraints that prevent your boss from supporting this legislation? We stand ready to provide any further information or resources to help make supporting this legislation easier for the Congressmember.”

    If Maybe: “Please let us know what specific reasons or constraints may be preventing your boss from supporting this legislation. We would like to follow up with you to help the Congressmember support passage of this important legislation this year.”

    You can also call your own Member of Congress through the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121 and find out more about your Representative on the House website: www.house.gov.

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