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Vietnam Veteran Works to Reunite Families with Their Fallen Heroes

Vietnam Veteran Works to Reunite Families with Their Fallen Heroes

Vietnam Veteran Works to Reunite Families with Their Fallen Heroes

By Debbie Gregory

Army veteran Johnie Webb, deputy of outreach and communications for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), has spent much of the last 30 years helping reunite families with their fallen heroes.

The DPAA’s mission is to provide the fullest possible accounting of missing military personnel to their families and the nation.

A few years after serving in Vietnam, Webb was assigned to the Central Identification Laboratory and he was tasked with locating the remains of fellow servicemembers who never made it home.

Then, in 1985, Webb was chosen to lead the first recovery team into Vietnam to search for the remains of the victims of a B-52 bomber crash site near Hanoi.

Today, the DPAA teams work with the Vietnamese government as they search for roughly 1,600 Americans missing from that war.

The agency’s mission has expanded to include recovery efforts from World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War and other conflicts.

Now 72 years old, Webb’s main role is to keep families and veterans service organizations up to date on DPAA’s efforts.

This is important since a site can take months or even years to excavate, and if the tedious process should reveal human remains, it can take even longer to identify them.

On June 12, 2018, President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un recommitted to recovering and immediately repatriating the remains of prisoners of war and soldiers declared missing in action during the Korean War as part of a denuclearization agreement signed in Singapore.

In a statement signed by both leaders, the countries agreed to the recovery of the remains and the immediate repatriation of those already identified.

Nearly 7,800 American troops remain unaccounted for from the 1950-53 war in the Korean Peninsula. About 5,300 were lost in North Korea.

Reuniting Filipino World War II Veterans With Family: Military Connection

Military Connection: filipino veterans

By Debbie Gregory.

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced a new program to help Filipino-American World War II veterans bring their family members to the US.

Working with the State Department, the program will allow certain family members to come into the US under a parole status. The standard family immigration process has been extremely backlogged, and many veterans have been waiting upwards of 20 years for their family members to obtain visas. This policy is an effort to help expedite the legal immigration process to help those Filipino-American veterans reunite with their relatives; many being elderly and needing the assistance of family.

Last month, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum on “Modernizing and Streamlining the U.S. Immigrant Visa System for the 21st Century.” In this memorandum, the President directed the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Homeland Security to lead an interagency effort to develop recommendations, in consultation with stakeholders and experts, to:

  • reduce government costs, improve services for applicants, reduce burdens on employers, and combat waste, fraud, and abuse in the system;
  • ensure that policies, practices, and systems use all of the visa numbers that Congress provides for and intends to be used, consistent with demand; and
  • modernize the information technology infrastructure underlying the visa processing system with the goal of reducing redundant systems, improving the experience of applicants, and enabling better oversight.

The legal immigration system has not had any significant changes since 1991. The recent policy includes plans to revamp the process for people to apply for visas. Still, the process will take time to implement, and the parole system for Filipino-Americans’ relatives will expedite their immigration process.

“These are World War II veterans, so you can just think about how old they are and how long they’ve waited,” said Erin Oshiro, director of the Immigrant Rights Program at Advancing Justice.

An estimated 260,000 Filipino soldiers fought for the United States during World War II. It was not until the 1990s that they were granted eligibility to become citizens. The White House estimates that 6,000 are still living and reside in the US.

“For many years, I’ve fought to end the visa backlog for the sons and daughters of Filipino World War II veterans,” claimed Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “We made a promise to these individuals, and expediting reunification with their children through parole brings us one significant step closer in fulfilling that promise.”

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Reuniting Filipino World War II Veterans  With Family:  Military Connection: by Debbie Gregory