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disabled and the minority veteran is severely disproportionate to the overall picture. We laud the steps taken by the 94th Congress in this connection, particularly the establishment of the position of Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment. We shall continue our efforts toward the improvement of veterans' employment practices and policies, and have submitted to the administration the following proposal, among others, and would urge affirmative Congressional action and support if and where needed.
AMVETS has particular concern over the grim situation facing many of our older veterans caught in the wake of industrial shutdowns and relocations. Unemployed and untrained in other skills, this segment of our veteran population is confronted with an almost hopeless future in the absence of retraining programs which will provide the necessary skills for meaningful employment in other fields.
It should be noted that these veterans, for the most part, have contributed continuously to our society through their maintaining of steady employment over the years and are now in need of assistance which was previously unnecessary. We propose that such retraining programs be implemented.
Before concluding the employment portion of our testimony, Mr. Chairman, we wish to call your attention to the following critical items relative to the employment problems of America's veterans.
AMVETS is disappointed that a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Veterans' Employment, as called for by Public Law 94–502, has not yet been appointed and we urge prompt attention to this important matter.
AMVETS believes the selection of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Veterans' Employment should be based on the individual's knowledge of the problems, programs and services available to our veteran community. We believe the criteria for this position should be based on experience, ability, knowledge and acceptability to veterans groups without regard to race, creed, color or political associations.
AMVETS further recommends that the Veterans' Employment Service be elevated from its present position in the United States Employment Service to a management level with direct contact to the Assistant Secretary of Labor for Employment and Training, and that the office be totally funded to administer the Department of Labor's Veterans' Employment programs.
In addition, we firmly believe that the Office of Veterans' Reemployment Rights and Office of Federal Contract Compliance should be combined and placed within a single agency charged with the administration of veterans' employment programs in the Department of Labor.
AMVETS continues to espouse the necessity to maintain and improve a strong and formidable national defense policy. We would strongly oppose with all means at our disposal any attempt to cut the defense budget and support with equal vigor affirmative action directed at implementing the production of the B-1 bomber, the cruise. missile and the allocation of additional funds for the continued procurement of the Air Force's new F-16 fighter.
We must reiterate our total opposition to any attempts directed at the unionization of the Armed Forces or to the granting to military
personnel of any collective bargaining rights not provided for in the Uniform Code of Military Justice as that code currently exists. It must be made clear that AMVĚTS does not dispute or oppose the principle of organized labor, but we do question the effects such a practice would have on military discipline should military personnel be given the right to question or disobey the lawful orders of their superiors.
We also agree with you, Senator Thurmond, on your introduction of Senate Bill No. 274, and naturally it goes without saying that we would give you our utmost support on this.
We strongly oppose any proposals directed at deferring payment of military retirement pensions until the retiree reaches a more normal retirement age of 55 or 60. A regulation of this nature could do nothing but discourage potential personnel from pursuing military careers.
We continue to be adamently and irrevocably opposed to the President's amnesty/pardon action. We recognize the Presidential pardoning powers as contained in article II, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution as the law, but we advocate concurrently a constitutional amendment to limit that power in the interests of the "equal justice under law” concept which is the foundation of the American system of government.
AMVETS vigorously supports the efforts of the FBI, the CIA and other security agencies whose mission is to maintain the security and integrity of our country within the intent and framework of the law.
The issue concerning United States sovereignty over the Panama Canal remains as a top priority area of concern for AMVETS. We will continue our efforts to defeat any attempts at the surrendering of that sovereignty.
We urge congressional support to Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 which would continue to oppose United Nations membership for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam until a satisfactory accounting of American persons listed as “Missing-in-Action” is received. We have, additionally, asked the President to appoint representatives of the major veterans' organizations to the newly created “MIA” task force.
We support the proposal to allocate funds to erect a monument at Arlington National Cemetery in memory of those Americans who did not return from the war in Southeast Asia.
We are mandated to oppose any effort directed to lowering the established criteria relative to the issuance of an honorable discharge.
We reiterate AMVETS' opposition to reduce in size or scope of activity or to eliminate the commissary system as it is now constituted.
The allocation of additional funds to support the United States Soldiers and Airmen's Home in Washington, D.C. continues to be an important pursuit of AMVETS.
We are mandated by convention resolution to strongly recommend that Memorial Day be restored to its original traditional date of May 30th and we will support legislation to restore other traditional American holidays to their original dates.
The interest of AMVETS to other legislative matters affecting veterans and the Nation will continue to be of priority importance and we shall be honored to submit future testimony on those and other matters of concern before your subcommittees.
In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, may I cite the positive action taken recently to preserve the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs and the support given in strength by AMVETS and other major veterans' organizations. We assure the Congress, collectively, that we will oppose with renewed and additional vigor any future attempts to subvert or l'eassign the authority of or to eliminate or reduce in size the Committee on Veterans Affairs of both Houses of the Congress.
Again, and finally, we offer our heartfelt appreciation for the personal courtesies extended by this committee on this and prior occasions.
Mr. Chairman, my staff and I will be pleased to answer any questions the committee members may wish to ask at this time, and I would like to personally thank you for this opportunity.
Chairman CRANSTON. Commander McDonough, thank you very much for your thorough and forceful presentation of your legislative goals. We appreciate that very, very much.
I want to say that Senator Hansen asked me to explain that he very reluctantly had to leave because he was summoned to preside over a meeting of the Interior Committee. He wanted to stay here, but he had to go to see that they could complete their work.
During your presentation, Senator John Durkin, another fine member of this committee, arrived with us.
John, did you have any remarks to make ? Others of us have said a few words.
Senator DURKIN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I wanted to welcome you all to the committee. And I think you know that this committee, under the leadership of Senator Cranston, is highly interested in solving the problems that you have presented this morning, and those problems raised by the World War I presentation
I just want to compliment you for an excellent presentation.
Senator STAFFORD. Nothing further, Mr. Chairman. I have enjoyed the presentation and I find myself in agreement with the great bulk of it.
Chairman CRANSTON. Strom?
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Chairman, I don't have any questions. I just want to commend Commander McDonough for a very excellent presentation that he has raised here on this occasion.
Mr. McDonough. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I would just like to say to Senator Thurmond that we are looking forward to him being with us at our Silver Helmets presentation tomorrow which he is going to be a recipient of one of our silver helmets. And I again would like to just personally thank you for all of the help and cooperation that not only you but the rest of the members of this committee have lent to the veterans.
Chairman CRANSTON. On behalf of the entire committee, I want to thank you again very much. And rather than ask you any questions, I think we should get to work on the program.
Mr. McDonough. Thank you.
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Chairman CRANSTON. And we will be doing that as best we can and as quickly as we can. And we look forward to continuing a close relationship between your organization, and the members of this committee and its staff to see to it that we do what we are supposed to do as fast and effectively as we can. That will be our desire.
We have many tough problems to wrestle with in the course of this year but we will be doing our best to cope with them.
We will now hear the recommendations of the veterans of World War I, as presented by this year's Commander, V. Bruce Bennett, and Harold Say, Legislative Director.
We in the committee certainly want to welcome the veterans of World War I and look forward to hearing what you wish to propose to the committee this morning.
I am mindful of the needs of the veterans of World War I who sacrificed so much for their country while receiving so little assistance. We must be responsive to your needs. I know your needs are great and they are just as important to us as the needs of any other veterans, I assure you.
The veterans of World War I will not be forgotten by the committee in the 95th or, I'm sure, any other Congress.
We welcome you and we will listen with interest to your recommendations to the committee at this time.
Thank you very much.
Senator STAFFORD. Nothing now, Mr. Chairman, except to warmly welcome the veterans of World War I to this meeting and say that I look forward to hearing your statement to us this morning. And to repeat to you what I told the AMVETS earlier, and that is that Senator Randolph is not here because he is presiding over a meeting of the full Environment and Public Works Committee on a very important matter.
Chairman CRANSTON. John, do you have any remarks to make ?
One of the most important persons in my life was a corporal in the Battery B Armored and Second Field Artillery of the Yankee Division, a much decorated corporal, who happened to be my father. And I am very sympathetic to the problems of the World War I veterans and I want to welcome you here.
Chairman CRANSTON. Thank you, John.
Senator THURMOND. Mr. Chairman, I want to join you, and the distinguished ranking Member, Senator Stafford,' and others, in welcoming these fine people here. I have always had a tremendous admiration for a veteran who fought for his country.
I was not old enough to be in World War I, and I was just hoping someday that I would have the opportunity to join some of these veterans' organizations and the time came later after World War II.
But I just want to say to the National Commander Bruce Bennett, and the National Legislative Director Harold Say, that you have a friendly supporter here on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.
The Senate has shown its interest in World War I veterans in the past. We pledge to you our continuing support in the future and hope that we can see more responsive action to the needs of the World War I veteran from the House.
We are delighted to have you here.
Senator STAFFORD. Mr. Chairman, I can't resist saying that if there is some military emergency after the year 2000, the way things are going I think Senator Thurmond will still be physically able to serve.
Senator THURMOND. And will.
STATEMENT OF V. BRUCE BENNETT, NATIONAL COMMANDER,
VETERANS OF WORLD WAR I OF THE U.S.A., INC. Mr. BENNETT. Mr. Chairman, and distinguished members of this committee, for the record, I am V. Bruce Bennett. I am the National Commander of the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A.
I would like to thank the committee for the opportunity to appear
fore you in order to present some of the views and the thinking of the rank and file members of our organization.
I would also like to express our appreciation for the consideration that this committee has given our requests in the past.
Our delegation this morning is very small when measured against some of those generated by other groups. However, its size in no way reflects a lack of interest" or enthusiasm on the part of our general membership. It just happens that we are few in this immediate area, and many of our people, due to their age, are physically incapacitated or financially unable to be present.
With your permission, Mr. Chairman. I would like to introduce our people here.
First is our National Legislative Chairman, Mr. Harold Say, whom I know needs no introduction to this committee. My executive assistant, Mrs. Ethel Sweitzer.
And in the interest of a peaceful home, I would like to introduce my wife, Mrs. Violet Bennett. [Applause.]
That concludes my remarks, Mr. Chairman. And at this time, our National Legislative Chairman, Mr. Harold Say, is prepared to proceed with our presentation.
Chairman CRANSTON. Thank you, Commander.
VETERANS OF WORLD WAR I OF THE U.S.A., INC.
Mr. Say. Well, firstly, Mr. Chairman, I repeat the same thanks that Commander Bennett has passed to you.
We are very appreciative of this committee, and we are very glad it is intact and still alive this year. We think it would have been a catastrophy to have lost it.
In frank honesty, the main interests of our membership over the country is enactment of a general meaningful pension bill. I am now going to touch on that for a second or two. And I will say this, that