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AMENDMENT OF SECTION 1662 OF TITLE 38, UNITED STATES CODE Section 1662 of title 38, USC, establishes a 10-year delimiting date for completion of education or training under the post-Korean Education and Training Program. The enabling legislation for this program provided an 8-year delimiting date.
Public Law 93–337 extended the delimiting date to 10 years. The American Legion supported Public Law 93–337, as a fair and equitable measure.
Our Seattle national convention addressed this subject through Resolution No. 106 (Ky.), which was thoroughly debated by the Delegates prior to its adoption. In Resolution No. 106, the Legion points out that the Veterans Education and Training Programs, for veterans of World War II, the Korean and the Vietnam Wars were and are intended to facilitate the transition of the veteran from military to civilian life, and to restore to him the educational and training opportunities that were lost or denied by reason of wartime service. The Legion is committed to a reasonable period of time in which to complete the transition. We believe that 10 years is eminently reasonable. With due regard to priorities that must govern our approach to veterans benefits legislation, we cannot accept justification for an education and training program that is unduly extended, or that is open-ended.
We are mindful of the arguments put forth as to value an education and training program to the recruitment of the All-Volunteer Armed Forces. We respectfully point out, however, that this was not the reason the education and training programs were established. These programs were conceived and established as read justment programs, and not as gratuitous benefit programs.
We submit that if Congress believes there is merit in a post-service education program as a career incentive for the All-Volunteer Armed Forces, then such a program should be so identified, and so funded. Coincidentally, we see the Veterans Education and Training programs as a bonafide cost of war, and we believe they should be so identified.
The American Legion opposes any further extension of the delimiting date for education and training, as now provided in section 1662 of title 38, United States Code.
There are certain other matters that do not fall directly within the jurisdiction of this committee, but that do affect veterans affairs, and are of concern to committee members in fulfillment of their Congressional duties that we would also like to bring to your attention.
NATIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE
It is not possible for us to make a comprehensive presentation on The American Legion's legislative concerns, without touching on National Health Insurance.
It is our appraisal that the 95th Congress will give early attention to this subject. It is of serious concern to The American Legion, because of its probable impact on the VA medical care program.
We, of the Legion, have been studying since 1971, the potential effect of a National Health Insurance program on the VA system. We have, on several occasions communicated our conclusions to the Congress. If national health insurance legislation is taken up by the 95th Congress, we shall request to be heard.
The essential point of our position is that any Federal health care act must include a provision, recognizing the VA medical care program as a Federal deliverer of health services to be operated and maintained exclusively for the Nation's veterans. In our judgment, the absence of such a provision would create a direct threat to the integrity of the present VA system. Such a development we would consider to be intolerable, and a breach of faith with veterans. We believe it would inevitably lead to an effort to incorporate the VA system with other Federal health care services, and veterans would lose what they now have, a system designed to serve their particular needs.
What we hope for from the members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee is that its members will support our request for a protective section in a Federal health care act. The loss of the VA system to the Nation's veterans would have an absolutely disastrous effect on the entire structure of veterans benefit programs. It would jeopardize the fruits of more than 50 years of effort to develop a comprehensive program of veterans benefits, and the maintenance of the VA as the single agency to administer those programs.
Our national convention addressed this matter through the medium of Resolution No. 139 (Mass.).
REVIEW AND REAUTHORIZATION OF VETERANS PROGRAMS
In Resolution No. 195 (Colo.), our national convention considered the effect on veterans programs of measures proposed to cause periodic Congressional review of all Government programs and activities. While The American Legion has no quarrel with this concept, we do not believe it is appropriate, or needed with regard to veterans programs.
Our resolution points out that veterans programs are the subject of constant Congressional oversight through the Veterans Affairs Committees, and that there are not now any inactive or moribund veterans benefit programs.
Veterans benefit programs are a commitment by the Nation, through the Congress, to look to the welfare of those who have served the needs of the national defense. All veterans programs are carefully thought out in their conception, and are designed to meet particular and justifiable needs of veterans. There is no need or justification to include them in so-called "sunset legislation.”
JURISDICTION OF VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEES OVER VETERANS
HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS
In Resolution No. 476, originated within the convention, the national convention took note of a proposal now pending within the House of Representatives that would transfer jurisdiction over veterans health care programs from the House Veterans Affairs Committee to a committee to be established. The American Legion views such an eventuality with alarm. In our judgment, it is absolutely essential to the well-being of veterans programs that Congressional oversight for them be maintained by committees established for that purpose. In our experience, the Veterans Affairs' Committees have been responsive to the needs of veterans, and have provided sympathetic consideration to veterans problems as we have presented them. We do not contemplate with any degree of confidence an action by the House that would result in our depending for consideration of our interests, on a committee or committees having jurisdiction over diverse matters. We hope the members of this committee will be able to do what is necessary to obviate any such development, should it be proposed in the Senate.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we have here presented to you those matters that are of most immediate concern to The American Legion as it awaits the convening of the 95th Congress, and budgetary consideration of the needs of veterans programs for fiscal year 1978. There are other legislative matters that we will seek to bring before the committee during the next Congressional year. Those set forth in this presentation are, in our judgment, those that need earliest attention. Copies of resolutions referred to are appended to the statement.
Once again, we appreciate the interest of the committee and its members in hearing our presentation on matters of importance to the Nation's veterans.
FIFTY-EIGHTH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN LEGION,
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AUGUST 24, 25, 26, 1976 Resolution : No. 39 (Nebraska) Committee : Veterans' Affairs and Rehabilitation Subject: Seeks legislation to improve the death and disability pension program
for veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars,
and for their widows and children Whereas, the pension program established by the Congress of the United States for veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and for their widows and children, is a needs program designed to help relieve or prevent need which is or presumed to be due to permanent and total disability associated with unemployability, or that which follows the death of the primary means of family support—the veteran spouse; and
Whereas, the income and net worth test established by the Congress for pension was intended to be more liberal than those established for state welfare benefits; and
Whereas, after somewhat extensive study by the Veterans Administration and the Congress, Public Law 86–211, effective July 1, 1960, enacted reforms which are, substantially the pension program encompassed by current law; and
Whereas, to assure that the needs test for pension entitlement continues to be in relation to the needs test established by Public Law 86-211, as amended, it is necessary to translate the. 1960 dollar annual income limitations to current constant dollars; and
Whereas, The American Legion believes that veterans and their dependent survivors should have the full measure of any social security or other retirement increase without suffering reductions in their pension income maintenance payments; and
Whereas, the needs of war veterans and their survivors are more and more demanding of their limited incomes because of the continuing rise in the cost of food, housing, clothing, transportation, medical services, and other essentials; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, by The American Legion in national convention assembled in Seattle, Washington, August 24, 25, 26, 1976, that The American Legion shall sponsor and support legislation to accomplish the following amendments to Chapter 15, title 38, United States Code :
1. (a) Amend section 421(b) to provide as follows:
"If the veteran is unmarried (or married but not living with and not reasonably contributing to the support of his spouse) and has no child, pension shall be paid monthly at the annual rate of $3300, reduced by the amount of his annual income."
(b) Amend section 521 (c) to provide as follows:
"If the veteran is married and living with or reasonably contributing to the support of his spouse, or has a child, pension shall be paid monthly at the annual rate of $5500. If the veteran has two or more such dependents, the annual rate shall be increased by $264 for each such dependent in excess of one. The rate payable shall be reduced by the amount of his annual income.”.
(c) Amend section 541 (b) to provide as follows:
"If there is a widow with no child, pension shall be paid monthly at the annual rate of $3300 reduced by the amount of her annual income.”
(d) Amend section 541(c) to provide as follows: "If there is a widow and one child, pension shall be paid at the annual rate of $5500. If the widow has two or more children, the rate shall be increased by $264 for each child in excess of one. The rate payable shall be reduced by the amount of her annual income.”
(e) Amend section 542 to provide as follows:
"Whenever there is no widow entitled to pension under section 541, pension shall be paid monthly to each child at the annual rate of $2600. The rate payable shall be reduced by the amount of the child's annual income.”
2. Amend section 521 (f) (1) to provide :
“For the purpose of section 521, in determining annual income, where a veteran is living with his spouse, all income of the spouse which is reasonably available to or for the veteran in excess of whichever is the greater, $2200 or $7200 of the earned income of the spouse shall be considered as the income of the veteran."
3. Section 503 is amended to provide :
"In determining annual income, all payments of any kind or from any source shall be included except
“(1) amounts equal to amounts paid by a wife of a veteran for the expenses of his last illness, and by a widow or child of a deceased veteran for
“(A) his just debts,
“(C) the expenses of his burial to the extent such expenses are not reimbursed under Chapter 23 of this title;
“(2) amounts equal to amounts paid
“(A) by a veteran for the last illness and burial of his deceased spouse or child, or
“(B) by a widow or wife of a veteran for the last illness and burial of a child of such veteran;
“(3) proceeds of fire insurance policies ;
“(4) amounts in joint accounts in banks and similar institutions acquired by reason of death of other joint owner;
“(5) amounts equal to amounts paid by a veteran, widow, or child, for unreimbursed medical expenses for persons prescribed by regulation which exceed 5 per centum of the maximum annual rate of income authorized under this chapter for any such person.".
4. Amend section 522 to provide :
“The Administrator of Veterans Affairs shall deny or discontinue payment of pension under section 521 when the corpus of the estate of the veteran, or of the veteran and his spouse, is such that under all the circumstances, including consideration of the veteran's income, it is reasonable that some part of the corpus be consumed for the veteran's maintenance."
5. Add a new section to provide :
"The rates payable under section 521, 541, and 542 shall be increased by such percentage as the Administrator of Veterans Affairs shall certify in the Federal Register as a cost-of-living increase in accordance with the purpose of section 215 of the Social Security Act, as amended, effective the first day of the month of such determination."
6. Amend section 3012(b) (4) to provide :
“The date of reduction or discontinuance of pension by reason of increased income shall be the last day of the month in which the increase occurred or became effective."
7. Amend section 521, by adding the following new subsection :
“(h) That if the income status of a veteran changes, the amounts paid for aid and attendance or the housebound provisions under paragraphs (d) and (e) of this section shall be continued."
8. Amend 38 USC, Chapter 15 to provide that nothing in the foregoing amendments shall affect the eligibility of any person receiving pensons under Chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, on the effective date of such amendments for pension under all applicable provisions of that Chapter in effect on that date for such period or periods thereafter with respect that he can qualify under such provisions.
9. Amend 38 USC, Chapter 15 to provide that those who continue to receive pension under the foregoing savings provision shall reeive the percentage cost-ofliving as determined by the Administrator of Veterans Affairs as proposed in item 5 of this resolution.
Approved with amendment.
FIFTY-EIGHTH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN LEGION,
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, GUST 24, 25, 26, 1976 Resolution : No. 106 (Kentucky) Committee: Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Subject: Oppose the enactment of those measures which would amend section
1662 of title 38, United States Code, so as to extend beyond 10 years, the
time limitation for completing a program of education or training Whereas, section 1662(a) of title 38, United States Code, as amended by Public Law 93–337, provides that no educational assistance shall be afforded an eligible veteran under this chapter beyond the date 10 years after his discharge or release from active duty after January 31, 1955; and
Whereas, the savings clause of section 1662 (c) provides that in the case of any eligible veteran who was discharged or released from active duty before the date for which an educational assistance allowance is first payable under this chapter, the 10-year delimiting period shall run from such date (June 1, 1966); and
Whereas, Public Law 93–337, which extended the delimiting period for completion of education from 8 years to 10 years was supported by The American Legion; and
Whereas, a variety of measures have been introduced in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, either to further extend the delimiting period or to remove the delimitation entirely; and
Whereas, it has consistently been the position of The American Legion that rehabilitation and readjustment programs should extend for reasonable periods following active service, to enable the veteran to make a satisfactory and successful readjustment to civilian life; and
Whereas, an indefinite extension of rehabilitation and readjustment programs beyond what could be considered a reasonable period would defeat the purpose of such programs, as well as constitute an unreasonable burden upon the public purse; and
Whereas, a 10-year period in which the veteran can complete a readjustment and rehabilitation program is a reasonable extension of time; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, by The American Legion in national convention assembled in Seattle, Washington, August 24, 25, 26, 1976, that The American Legion oppose the enactment of those measures which would amend section 1662 of title 38, United States Code, so as to extend beyond 10 years the time limitation for completing a program of education or training.
FIFTY-EIGHTH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN LEGION,
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AUGUST 24, 25, 26, 1976
Resolution: No. 107 (Kentucky)
35, so as to increase by 15 percent, the monthly rates payable for vocational rehabilitation subsistence allowance, educational and training assistance al
lowance, and special assistance Whereas, increases in vocational rehabilitation subsistence allowances, educational and training assistance allowances, and special assistance payable to eligible veterans and persons under Chapters 31, 34, and 35 of title 38, United States Code, were last increased under Public Law 93–508, approved December 3, 1974 and effective from September 1, 1974; and
Whereas, undergraduate tuition in the fall of 1976 at major public and private colleges and universities will go up an average of 8 to 10 percent over the 1975– 76 academic year to meet rapidly increasing operational costs; and
Whereas, the Consumer Price Index, as compiled and reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Department of Labor, has increased from 150.2 on September 1, 1974 to 166.7 on February 1, 1976—an increase of 10.98 percent; and
Whereas, many eligible veterans and persons, because of increased tuition, food, lodging, books, transportation, and other services, will have to forego or modify their plans to pursue programs of education or training under the foregoing provisions of title 38, United States Code; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, by The American Legion in national convention assembled in Seattle, Washington, August 24, 25, 26, 1976, that The American Legion sponsor and support legislation to amend 38 USC, Chapters 31, 34, and 35, so as to increase by 15 percent the monthly rates payable for vocational rehabilitation subsistence allowance, educational and training assistance allowance, and special assistance. Approved. FIFTY-EIGHTH ANNUAL NATIONAL CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN LEGION,
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, AUGUST 24, 25, 26, 1976 Resolution: No. 109 (Kentucky) Committee : Veterans Affairs and Rehabilitation Subject: Sponsor and support legislation to amend 38 USC, Chapter 11, so as
to provide that the Administrator of Veterans Affairs shall be authorized to automatically adjust monthly payments of compensation for service
connected disability in response to cost-of-living index increases Whereas, disability compensation is a monthly payment made by the Veterans Administration to a veteran because of a service-connected disability; and
Whereas, the amounts of these monthly payments of disability compensation are based on a schedule of ratings of reductions in earning capacity from specific injuries or combination of injuries; and
Whereas, these ratings, as far as practicable, are based upon the average impairments of earning capacity resulting from such injuries in civilian occupations; and
Whereas, in response to increased cost-of-living and other factors, the weekly take home pay of the blue collar worker in nonagriculture employment is constantly increasing; and
Whereas, The American Legion believes that the Administrator of Veterans Affairs should be authorized to automatically adjust these monthly payments in response to cost-of-living index increases; now, therefore, be it
Resolved, by The American Legion in national convention assembled in Seattle, Washington, August 24, 25, 26, 1976, that The American Legion sponsor and support legislation to amend 38 USC, Chapter 11 so as to provide that the Administrator of Veterans Affairs shall be authorized to automatically adjust these monthly payments in response to cost-of-living index increases.