Tue. Nov 19th, 2019

United States-affiliated Pacific Islands want equitable access to veteran benefits

United States-affiliated Pacific Islands (USAPIs) had issued a resolution outlining the need for equitable access to quality healthcare services for Pacific veterans who served in the United States Armed Forces.

The resolution, which was signed by the leaders of the Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI), Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) during the 24th Micronesian Islands’ Forum (MIF) held in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) on July 11, endorsed a request to the US government to conduct assessment of the needs and issues faced by Pacific veterans.

The resolution pointed out that US veterans residing in the Freely Associated States (FAS) have no access to Veterans Affairs (VA) services in their respective homelands and had to travel to the US mainland, Guam, Hawaii, and the CNMI just to avail of the services. FAS refers to Palau, FSM and the RMI.

THE United States VA designating the FAS as a “foreign soil” also made the nations ineligible sites for VA clinics and other services.

The resolution also stated that FAS veterans who reside in the US are not also entitled to full US VA benefits.

The USAPIs emphasized that the healthcare systems in the region have limited capacity to provide specialty services, such as treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), for returning veterans and their families.

“The leaders endorse, in principle, and as a matter of priority, the need to address equitable access to quality and comprehensive healthcare services for Pacific veterans and their families residing in the USAPIs and the US who have served honorably, irrespective of citizenship,” the resolution said. (Rhealyn C. Pojas)