Veteran’s son invited to White House breakfast with Obama

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta (left) with Lachica

By Eric Lachica

It was a great Veterans Day for a son of a U.S. Filipino WWII veteran Enrique Furbeyre (1920-2002) of Dumaguete and a grandson of veteran Salvador Lachica (1903-1990) of Iloilo.

I was honored and proud to be invited by President Obama and the First Lady to the White House breakfast to celebrate Veterans Day on behalf of our ACFV coalition.

Croissant-and-omelet breakfast

There were about 200 veterans and advocates who enjoyed a delicious omelet, pancake and croissant breakfast in the East Room.

I was seated with Douglas Carmon, special assistant to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and Lynne DeGuzman (Pinay), both veterans. They met when they were stationed at Andrews Air Force base. They live in Maryland.

I had a half-minute chat with Pres. Obama and First Lady Michelle in the Blue Room during the reception line photo op. Matangkad sila!

After shaking his hand, I thanked the President for his leadership in helping the Filipino veterans. He smiled and said, “I am glad Danny Akaka, Danny Inouye and Ric Shinseki are doing their best for the Filipino vets.” I mentioned to him the U.S. Army recognition problem. He politely smiled and thanked me for coming.

M.O. also shook my hands and thanked me for coming. I said it was my honor. I said we in the Filipino American community deeply appreciate Cristeta Comerford working for them, and Cristeta being proudly promoting our community in the White House.

I handed our ACFV letter to Obama’s military aide at the end of line.

Later, I had a few minutes conversation with DoD Secretary Leon Panetta in the Cross Hall on the first floor.

I thanked Panetta for helping the president on the Filipino veterans issue. I said that Obama has been a supporter since he was a senator. Panetta said he knew this issue and met many Philippine scouts when he was a California congressman.

I briefly explained to Panetta that about 4,000 Filipino veteran cases are still unresolved because of unreasonable U.S. Army service recognition policies. I requested if Panetta could arrange a meeting with the Secretary of the Army John McHugh for us. He said he would look into it. He gave me his Department of Defense souvenir coin token.

We had our picture taken by his military aide who later took a copy of our letter to the President for Panetta.

Too bad I didn’t finish the muffin and fruit dessert.

Salamat po, pops and lolo!

Eric Lachica is the executive director of the lobby group American Coalition for Filipino Veterans, Inc.

One Comment

  1. Hazel wrote:

    Thank you for your wonderful article! It has been very insightful.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: