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making such statement, any medical benefits that would accrue to him under the provisions of a Federal Health Care Act, (3) that if the provisions set forth above are included in a Federal Health Care Act, then The American Legion shall make no objection to any section of the Act providing for reimbursement rendered the veteran for non-service-connected disabilities, of benefits to which the veteran may be entitled under a Federal Health Care Act, and (4) that The American Legion shall actively oppose the enactment of a Federal Health Care Act that does not include the provisions set forth in clauses (1) and (2).

B. CONTINUE THE VETERANS ADMINISTRATION AS A SINGLE AGENCY FOR VETERANS

PROGRAMS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 111 (KY) urges that The American Legion exert every effort and all resources as will assure that the Veterans' Administration shall continue to be the sole independent establishment in the executive branch, responsible for the administration and execution of benefit programs and services provided by law for veterans, their dependents, and beneficiaries.

C. REVIEW AND NEW AUTHORIZATION OF VETERANS BENEFITS AND SERVICES

1976 Convention Resolution No. 195 (CO) urges that The American Legion us? every means at its disposal to oppose enactment of those provisions of any measure which would subject Veterans' Administration veterans benefits and services to a periodically scheduled review and new authorization.

D. REASSIGNING JURISDICTION AND RELATED FUNCTIONS FROM THE COMMITTEE ON

VETERANS AFFAIRS TO ANY OTHER COMMITTEE

1976 Convention Resolution No. 476 (Conv. Committee) that The American Legion shall vigorously oppose passage of those resolutions, either by the House of Representatives or the United States Senate, which would reassign any of the existing jurisdictions or related functions of the standing Committees on Veterans' Affairs to any other Committee.

E. CONTINUATION OF THE COMMITTEES ON VETERANS AFFAIRS

1976 Fall NEC Resolution No. 20 urges that The American Legion, (1) supports the maintenance of Committees on Veterans Affairs in both Houses of the Congress of the United States, as necessary to the effective and economical administration of veterans programs, and the development of such additional programs as may be or may become necessary to the welfare of the nation's veterans, their dependents and survivors, (2) petitions the Temporary Select Committee to Study the Senate Committee System to include in its final recommendations, the present Committee on Veterans Affairs, with all of its present duties, powers, functions and responsibilities, and (3) vigorously oppose any recommendation, and any effort from whatever source, to abolish the Veterans' Affairs Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the Congress of the United States.

F. MUSTERING-OUT PAYMENTS FOR VIETNAM ERA VETERANS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 49 (OH) seeks legislation to provide mustering-out pay to members of the Armed Forces who served honorably on active duty during the Vietnam Era.

G. REOPENING OF THE GUERRILLA RECOGNITION PROGRAM

1976 Convention Resolution No. 163 (P.I.) supports legislation for the reopening of the Guerrilla Recognition Program of the Commonwealth of the Philippines by the Department of Defense of the United States.

NATIONAL CEMETERIES

A. THE NATIONAL CEMETERY POLICY OF THE AMERICAN LEGION

1976 Convention Resolution 255 (WI) calls upon the Veterans Administration to establish additional national cemeteries wherever a need for them is apparent; support legislation to provide contract burials for veterans who are indigent at time of death; support legislation to provide Federal financial assistance for the establishment of State Veterans' Cemeteries, and of Veterans Sections in cemeteries owned and operated by local government units; support legislation providing for the construction of columbaria and mausoleums wherever feasible within national cemeteries ; oppose any effort, from whatever source to reduce or eliminate the present burial allowance and plot allowance provided to veterans under the laws and regulations administered by the Veterans' Administration, or the reduction or elimination of the earned burial benefit payable to all citizens who qualify for it under the Social Security Act as amended ; and, support legislation to abrogate the discriminatory Defense Department Order of February 10, 1967, which limits burials in Arlington National Cemetery to Medal of Honor Winners, active duty and retired members of the Armed Forces, and honorably discharged veterans who have also held high positions in the Federal Government.

B. MEMORIAL MARKERS FOR CERTAIN VETERANS GRAVES

1976 Convention Resolution No. 81 (N.D.) seeks legislation which will authorize furnishing of memorial markers for graves in private cemeteries wherein the remains of an honorably discharged serviceman are not recoverable.

CLAIMS AND RATINGS

A. ARMED FORCES RETIREMENT PAYMENTS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 138 (MA) seeks legislation so as to remove the restriction against the receipt of Armed Forces retirement pay, due to length of service, concurrently with VA compensation,

B. TRANSPORTATION COSTS FOR BURIALS OF CERTAIN VETERANS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 42 (NE) seeks legislation to provide that where an eligible veteran dies in a State Veterans' Home, the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs shall pay the cost of transporting the remains to place of burial.

C. PAYMENTS TO HOSPITALIZED INCOMPETENT VETERANS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 41 (NE) seeks legislation to provide that in any case in which a veteran having neither wife nor child is being 'furnished hospital treatment, or institutional or domiciliary care without charge or otherwise by the United States, or any political subdivision thereof, is rated by the Veterans Administration in accordance with regulations as being incompetent by reason of mental illness, and his estate from any source equals or exceeds $3,000, further payınents of pension, compensation, or emergency retirement pay shall not be made until the estate is reduced to $1,000.

D, IMPROVE THE DISABILITY COMPENSATION PROGRAM

Adjust Compensation in Response to Cost-of-living Increases

1976 Convention Resolution No. 109 (KY) seeks legislation so as to provide that the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs shall be authorized to automatically adjust monthly rates of compensation in response to cost-of-living index increases. Adjust Dependency and Indemnity Compensation Rates in Response to Cost-of

living Increases 1976 Convention Resolution No. 373 (D.C.) seeks legislation so as to provide that the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs be authorized to increase monthly rates of Dependency and Indemnity Compensation in accordance with the cost01-living index formula established for active duty personnel of the Armed Forces.

E. IMPROVE THE DISABILITY AND DEATH PENSION PROGRAM

1976 Convention Resolution No. 39 (NE) seeks legislation to improve the death and disability pension benefits program for veterans of World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and for their widows and children.

MEDICAL AND HOSPITAL

A. EXTEND COMMUNITY NURSING HOME CARE TO NINE MONTHS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 108 (KY) supports legislation to amend 38 USC 620 so as to extend community nursing home care at Veterans Administration expense to nine months.

B. EXTEND THE GRANT-IN-AID PROGRAM FOR PHILIPPINE VETERANS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 166 (P.I.) seeks legislation to extend beyond June 30, 1978, the grants-in-aid program to the Veterans Memorial Hospital, · Philippine Islands.

C. VA ALCOHOL AND DRUG TREATMENT PROGRAMS

1976 Fall NEC Resolution No. 21 urges the Veterans' Administration to proceed with formulation of a comprehensive alcohol and drug treatment and rehabilitation program encompassing the entire VA system of hospitals and clinics; and, urges Congress, in funding VA health care programs, to assign high priority to the VA alcohol and drug treatment and rehabilitation programs.

INSURANCE

A. SPECIAL GOVERNMENT INSURANCE FOR VIETNAM ERA VETERANS

1976 Convention Resolution No. 52 (OH) supports legislation so as to provide a special Government Life Insurance program for Vietnam Era veterans.

ARMED FORCES REVIEW BOARDS

A. CHARACTERIZATION OF MILITARY DISCHARGES

1976 Convention Resolution No. 137 (MA) opposes any move by Congress or the military departments to eliminate characterization of discharge, to lower the requirements for an Honorable Discharge, or to demeen in any way the special significance appertaining to the concept of honest and faithful service.

FY 77 LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF

VETERANS' ORGANIZATIONS

TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 1977

U.S. SENATE,
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.C. The committee met at 11:30 a.m., in caucus room 318, Russell Office Building, pursuant to notice, the Honorable Alan Cranston, presiding.

Present: Chairman Alan Cranston, presiding, and Senators Herman E. Talmadge, Jennings Randolph, John A. Durkin, Spark M. Matsunaga, Robert T. Stafford, Strom Thurmond, and Clifford P. Hansen.

OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ALAN CRANSTON, CHAIRMAN OF

THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS

Chairman CRANSTON. The hearing will please come to order. It is a great pleasure for me to welcome Commander Smith and Veterans of Foreign Wars today, to present their legislative recommendations for 1977, to the Committee on Veterans Affairs.

I particularly want to welcome the members of the Washington staff of the VFW, Cooper Holt and Don Schwab. I want to express again my thanks for having had the opportunity to address your national legislative committee members on Sunday afternoon, along with Chairman Ray Roberts from the House Committee, and the new VA Administrator, Max Cleland.

I am also looking forward to joining all of you this evening for your annual dinner. I want to repeat here again for the record this morning what I said on Sunday, very briefly.

That is that there is no doubt that without the efforts of the VFW and its members through the Nation, the Veterans Affairs Committee would not be inexistence today. I congratulate you on an extremely effective effort. [Applause.]

I am looking forward to serving as chairman of this committee in the 95th Congress, and continuing a close working relationship with the VFW, and indeed with all the veterans' organizations.

One of my goals as chairman is to assure that the committee continues to have a close working relationship with veterans' organizations. In that way we can all work together to see to it that the present programs of veterans' benefits are administered fairly, equitably, and efficiently, and in a most compassionate way, and that we institute new, imaginative, and more effective programs in continuation of the fine legislative record that this committee has compiled since it was formed in 1971.

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I know that the VFW shares this goal. I know that that goal is shared by the most able Senator from Vermont, who is seated to my right, Robert Stafford, new ranking minority member, with whom I look forward to working closely in a most bipartisan way in this Congress.

I am happy to welcome also the newest member of our committee, who will be here shortly, Spark Matsunaga, a life member of the VFW, and a highly decorated combat veteran.

I know that Sparky will bring the committee a new and refreshing experience. I am iooking forward to his help in his new and important role as vice-chairman of the Subcommittee on Compensation and Pension. I wish to welcome all of you this morning from outside of Washington who have come to present your legislative proposals to this committee, and I know that what you leave here will not be forgotten.

I think now that the new Administrator of Veterans Affairs, Max Cleland, has been sworn in by the President, we will see a quickening of the pace of dealing with the crucial matters facing the agency in these difficult times.

In this connection I want to reiterate just a few points that I've expressed heretofore. I know that the Veterans of Foreign Wars is very much concerned that any executive branch reorganization carried out by President Carter must not include any change in the independent status of the Veterans Administration and its programs. [Applause.)

In his confirmation hearings, Administrator Max Cleland gave this committee his assurances that he would do all in his power to assure that the agency remained independent.

I can assure you, and I know I speak for all members of this committee, and I think for all Members of the Senate too, that we will not agree to anything less than such an independent agency to serve America's veterans. [Applause.]

Certainly another very large concern that we've shared for a long time, has been the continued independence and survival of the VA health care program providing, as it does, a unique service to the disabled veteran population of America.

There is probably no other issue confronting the committee that carries more emotion, more distrust, and perhaps more misinformation than the VA's role in any national health insurance program.

I think I can speak for all members of this committee, and say that there is no one among us who is going to allow the Veterans Administration medical programs to be brought to destruction. That will not happen. [Applause.]

I am sure that there is no member of this committee who feels that the Veterans Administration medical program as it now exists does not have a place, indeed a unique and extremely valuable place in the future of health care planning and provision of services in our Nation.

There is no member of this committee who is willing to see the Department of Medicine and Surgery dismantled by any national health insurance program.

So we proceed this morning, and I just want you to know this very clearly as we proceed, while the committee feels it can look back with some pride upon accomplishments of the past, and plans to closely monitor the VA in terms of implementation, the committee does not intend to stand still.

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