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Chairman CRANSTON. Commander Smith, I want to thank you very, very much for that very fine and forceful statement. You sounded many of our deeply held, mutual concerns, and I assure you the whole program will get the most careful examination by this committee. We will
neglect no part of it. You not only presented the program of the VFW, but you stole my program because I was about to announce that it was Jennings Randolph's birthday. He is a great member of this committee.
Incredibly, Jennings Randolph entered this Congress before Franklin Roosevelt entered the White House, and he has been working for the veterans ever since. Jennings Randolph. [Applause.]
Senator RANDOLPH. Thank you, "Bulldog", and thank you very much, Alan. I am 75 years of age today—[Applause.]
Longfellow wrote that:
Age is opportunity and no less than youth itself, though in another dress. I hope my habitat will always be in tune with what I would call a good fashion, and good intent. I think both of them carries continued letters of recommendation,
Now should I say something? Only this, Mr. Chairman and my colleagues of the committee, you have every right to have the Congress of the United States in company with you, and all the American people, to do among our many obligations two important things that are especially, I think, vital to America's past, and perhaps more importantly its future.
That is to give the very best assistance to those persons who have fought in all the wars in which the United States of America has been engaged, and that's No. 1.
And two, to have an America which is the strongest Nation in the world, as we hope and work for peace. But, continue, never to be found wanting for those instrumentalities and humankind which, if we must use them, would continue the United States of America, I think, with pride, the finest country with the finest people that the Earth has ever seen. [Applause.]
Chairman CRANSTON. Thank you, Jennings, very, very much.
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Chairman, just before leaving I would like to introduce three people whose names I inadvertently left off the South Carolina list. Our South Carolina Department Commander Fritz Wyckoff, if he will stand, a past Department Commander, Arnold Muir, and our Voice of Democracy Chairman, Hugh Johnson. It's a great pleasure to have them here, and if they'lí all join me for their picture on the Capitol steps of the Senate wing immediately, I will appreciate it. Thank you, very much.
Chairman CRANSTON. Thank you, Strom.
I spoke earlier of Spark Matsunaga, the new fighting member of this committee. Sparky? [Applause.]
Senator MATSUNAGA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. National Commander and my fellow veterans of the great organization, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, of which I am a life member- -[Applause.]
As we say in Hawaii, Aloha! As time goes on, more and more of us keep graying; and I'd hoped to say to Senator Randolph that he certainly is a young 75. But I was surprised to see him here today because generally when a man celebrates a birthday he takes a day off.
Of course they say when a woman celebrates a birthday she take several years off. [Laughter.]
But I'm sure you all rejoice at the fact that we have as our new Chairman Alan Cranston, one who has been the strong champion of veterans for many, many years. [Applause.]
And let me tell you that under his leadership we saved the Veterans' Affairs Committee. Of course he wanted to be chairman of the committee, and I think because of this committee we will keep America and specifically the Congress reminded of this, that veterans of all wars won their rights and privileges which they are now receiving, and they are not in any way asking for handouts. [Applause.]
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman CRANSTON. Commander, we thank you, your associates, your friends, your comrades, and we'll see you tonight and we stand adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 12:20 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.]
FY 77 LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF
FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 1977
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to notice, at 11:05 a.m., in room 1202, Dirksen Office Building, the Honorable Alan Cranston, presiding.
Present: Chairman Alan Cranston, presiding, and Senators John A. Durkin, Robert T. Stafford, Strom Thurmond, and Clifford P. Hansen.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. ALAN CRANSTON, CHAIRMAN OF
THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS
Chairman CRANSTON. This hearing will come to order.
We want to welcome each and all of you who are present. I want to express my appreciation to you for being here this morning to present the legislative proposals to the committee of the American Veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, otherwise known as AMVETS.
The AMVETS and the veterans of World War I, who will be heard after the presentation of Commander McDonough, were both vital groups in providing information to this committee for the purpose of our legislative and oversight efforts. I want to congratulate all of you on your very effective work in the past. The committee looks forward to working closely with you in the 95th Congress.
In this Congress we will be focusing on how the committee can help improve the programs of the Veterans Administration, and we need the close cooperation of all veterans organizations to assist us in that endeavor.
My goal—and I know that of each of the organizations represented here today share this goal, and the members of the committee—is to see that the present programs of veterans benefits are administered fairly and equitably and compassionately, and that, where needed, we institute new and imaginative and more effective programs in the continuation of the fine legislative record that this committee has compiled since its inception in 1971.
I am certain that all the members of the committee share this goal. I am happy to be working with the most able Senator from Vermont, Robert Stafford, who is seated on my right, who is the ranking minority member of this committee at the present time. We plan to con
tinue in the bipartisan fashion that has always applied to veterans work in the past.
I am also delighted that we have a fine new member of the committee, Spark Matsunaga, of Hawaii, a highly decorated combat veteran, who will be bringing to the committee new insights and new ideas. He has, as I am sure you are aware, been named by the committee as vice-chairman of the important Subcommittee on Compensation and Pension and has a vital interest in both of these programs as well as the other work of the committee.
We foresee an active year of vigorous oversight and enactment of new legislative initiatives. We want to hear your recommendations as to what those initiatives should be. So I wish to welcome all of you who have come to Washington from around the country, and assure you that what the committee hears today will provide valuable guidance to us in the days and months ahead.
Finally, I want to note my regret that a previous commitment will keep me from attending the AMVETS Silver Helmet Awards Luncheon this weekend. I am very gratified to Mrs. Pearl Bennett, the first vice-president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the AMVETS of California, for her kind invitation to attend, and once again I am sorry that a previous commitment makes it impossible for me to attend.
Before proceeding with Senator Percy, who is with us, who will introduce the AMVETS Commander McDonough to the committee this morning, I want to welcome the members of the AMVETS Washington staff, Dennis McClure, national service and legislative director, and Leon Sanchez, national executive director.
There are some Californians present. I wish they would rise so that we could greet them, particularly. I thank you very much for your presence.
And now before proceeding to Senator Percy and our witnesses, I presume that Bob Stafford would like to speak. Bob.
Senator STAFFORD. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I simply want to echo your sentiments about the pleasure I personally derive from continuing to work on this committee and under your leadership in a bipartisan way for the benefit of the living veterans of all wars in which this country has been involved.
I am delighted to be here to welcome AMVETS and our distinguished colleague, Senator Percy. I have had a chance to briefly review the statement which the national commander is going to deliver in a moment, and I wish to commend him for it and assure him that when I have heard it in full I expect I can support virtually all of the requests that he will be making on behalf of AMVETS who are here.
I won't take more time now. I will yield it so that our colleagues can say a word if they wish and we can get right to the national commander's statement.
Chairman CRANSTON. Thank you, Bob.
Mr. Chairman, I want to join you and our ranking member, Senator Stafford, in welcoming these fine people here today. We have the Na
tional Commander Tom McDonough; the National Executive Director Leon Sanchez; the National Legislative Director Dennis McClure; and Leo Anderson, chairman of the Legislative Commission. And I am very pleased to see Senator Percy who will introduce the commander.
We are honored to have your presence here. This is a great organization. It stands for Americanism, patriotism, devotion to God and country, and a service to one's fellow man.
I just want to say this—there are many things we can talk about; I just want to mention two things—one is, I have introduced a bill to place the Veterans' Administration to a Cabinet Level position in our Government. I feel that this is important. The Veterans' Administration has more employees—226,000—than any other Federal agency or department except the Department of Defense. We are very anxious to have a hearing on this bill.
Another thing is, we are anxious to see the employment director made an assistant Secretary of Labor. And we were able last year to get a deputy assistant. We are anxious for that to be promoted. Mr. Hall has done a fine job there, and we think that would be more effective and be very helpful.
There are many other things that I won't go into at this time. I am glad to have you with us.
Chairman CRANSTON. Another very fine member, Senator Cliff Hansen. Cliff.
Senator HANSEN. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
I don't think I have anything substantial to add to what has been said already. We welcome you here this morning and we are looking forward to hearing from you. I want to express my real appreciation to Senator Percy, my classmate here in the Congress. He and I were elected the same year. He has a very distinguished record, in his own right, which he earned during World War II. We are eager to hear from you gentlemen to know what you have to say.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator STAFFORD. Mr. Chairman, before Senator Percy begins I would like to have the record note that Senator Jennings Randolph, a very valued member of this committee, asked me to explain to you that he is presiding over an important meeting of the Environment and Public Works Committee this morning in this building. It is a very important one, relating to legislation which will impact on all of the automobiles made in America over the next several years, as well as factories, and apartment buildings and so on. And it is solely for that reason that he is not able to be with us this morning.
Chairman CRANSTON. Senator Stone likewise asked me to express that he regrets over the fact that he had to be in Florida today and, therefore, could not be present.
Now to go to Senator Chuck Percy, whom we all wish was a member of this committee. Unfortunately, he is not, but he is very helpful with veterans' problems, and very able on the floor and other ways in helping in their solutions.