“That was the unique thing about Mr. Filner,” said Tetz. “He wasn’t a veteran, he was someone who went from literally throwing rocks at veterans to being one of their big advocates. So taking that spirit that he’s had and adding one more level because he is a veteran, Tim Walz is really becoming that bulldog on that committee to say, ‘hey, this is what we need to do, this is what we need to have.’ And setting partisanship aside and saying, ‘let’s make this happen.’”
Veterans groups say they will remember Filner as much for his public tirades as for his legislative accomplishments.
“He has worked very closely with our folks back in the district,” said Raymond Kelley, a national spokesman for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. “Even if we didn’t always agree with his policy, we know it came from a good heart that wants the best for veterans. He’s always been willing to sit down and discuss the issues and figure out how to solve them collectively.”
Filner’s years-long effort to win compensation payments to Filipino veterans who served in World War II bore fruit when a provision to provide $198 million of already-appropriated money to make payments to about 18,000 surviving Filipino veterans was included in the 2009 stimulus package.
Miller voted against the stimulus, but has also been a supporter of payments for Filipino veterans who fought with U.S. forces.
“On most issues, we both want the best for our veterans,” Miller said of Filner. “I don’t think that is ever in doubt. We might disagree ideologically how best to support our vets, but that is what makes our relationship so much fun. We are able to disagree and agree at the same time.”
That might not be enough to satisfy veterans’ groups.
“We will miss Filner a lot,” said Thomas Zampieri, director of governmental relations with the Blinded Veterans Association.