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READJUSTMENT BENEFITS FOR INDIVIDUALS ENTERING THE ARMED SERVICES AFTER JANUARY 31, 1955
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 1960
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 356, Old House Office Building, Hon. Olin E. Teague (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will come to order.
The committee is meeting this morning to consider all the bills pending before the committee which have to do with what is called our peacetime GI bills. There are 22 House bills, and 1 bill, S. 1138, in the Senate, and I would, without objection, place in the record at this point each of these bills and reports that we have received concerning them. (The bills referred to follow :)
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
Washington, D.O., August 5, 1959.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This letter is in reply to your request of July 24, 1959, for the views of this Department with respect to S. 1138, an act to provide readjustment assistance to veterans who serve in the Armed Forces between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963.
In general, S. 1138 would extend to veterans who serve between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963, benefits granted to veterans under the Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952. The act provides, however, that these benefits will not be afforded to any individual on account of service as a commissioned officer of the Coast and Geodetic Survey or the Public Health Service.
This Department is opposed to the further extension of veterans' benefits for noncombat service. However, the Department will defer to the views of the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration, the agencies directly concerned in this matter.
If legislation of this nature is given consideration, attention is called to the fact that section 501 (d) (1) of Public Law 881 of the 84th Congress provides that "active service of commissioned officers of the Coast and Geodetic Survey shall be deemed to be active military service for the purpose of laws administered by the Veterans' Administration."
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of this report and that enactment would not be in accord with the program of the President. Sincerely yours,
F. H. MUELLER, Acting Secretary of Commerce.
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COUNCIL
OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS,
Washington, August 7, 1959. Hon. OLIN E. TEAGUE, Chairman, Committee on Veterans Affairs, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reference to your request of July 23, 1959, for the views of the Council of Economic Advisers on S. 1138, an act to provide readjustment assistance to veterans who serve in the Armed Forces between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963.
Your courtesy in offering us an opportunity to communicate our views directly to your committee is appreciated, but the Council rarely transmits separate comments to congressional committees on legislative proposals. Our views are ordinarily sent to the Bureau of the Budget for consideration in the formulation of a general executive branch report to the committee cncerned, and we believe this would be the more appropriate course in the present case. Sincrely yours,
RAYMOND J. SAULNIER.
Washington, D.C., September 24, 1959.
DEAR MR. TEAGUE: The following comments are submitted in response to your request for our report on H.R. 1143, 86th Congress.
This bill is intended to liberalize hospital admission requirements for veterans who engaged in enemy combat during active service in a war, campaign, or expedition. It would provide that if one applies for hospital treatment of a disease or injury which he claims was incurred or aggravated by combat service he shall be immediately hospitalized pending a determination on the question of combat incurrence or aggravation. Such hospitalization would be without charge, whether or not it was subsequently determined that the injury or disease was not service connected.
Although the bill refers to Public Law 361, 77th Congress, this statute has been repealed and its provisions restated in section 354 of title 38, United States Code. We assume that if the bill is further considered it will be redrafted as an amendment to title 38.
Veterans' Administration regulations provide an order of preference for furnishing necessary hospital treatment for persons discharged or released from active service. Top priority is given to veterans who are suffering from a warservice-connected injury or disease for which they are medically determined to need hospital treatment. Following in order of preference are veterans discharged for disability or in receipt of compensation who require hospital care for a service or non-service-connected disability. Then war veterans who require treatment for a non-service-connected disability, if beds are available and they state under oath their inability to defray the cost of hospital treatment.
While H.R. 1143 requires the immediate hospitalization of combat veterans, it contains no corresponding provision that a need for hospital treatment be determined. This implies that the Veterans' Administration would be required to admit upon a priority basis a combat veteran making a claim even in the face of a medical determination of no immediate need.
The bill provides that there be no charge for such hospitalization. Thus the doors of the Veterans' Administration would be open to a group of veterans for treatment of conditions for which service connection has not been established, and this new class of eligibles would be afforded priority for admission over emergency cases and veterans with proven service-connected conditions.
We would be required to accept an applicant's unsupported allegation of service incurrence or aggravation of his disability, and there would be no recourse if the allegation proved erroneous. This would be so even in those cases where the disallowances of service connection would mean that the individual had no basic entitlement to hospitalization from the Veterans' Administration.
We believe that our present regulations provide amply for veterans who seek hospital care while their claims for compensation are being acted upon. Admission in an emergency is provided upon a prima facie showing of eligibility. Reimbursement of expenses of, or payment for, medical services obtained in private hospitals without prior VA approval is authorized under certain criteria. Many cases involve reimbursement for such private services obtained during periods when claims for compensation are pending.
It is impossible to submit a worthwhile estimate of the cost of the proposal if enacted. To comply with its terms we would need to set aside and hold open hospital beds to afford immediate hospitalization to veterans eligible under the bill. These would be additional ot those we must provide for veterans who require care for established service-connected disabilities. To the extent that it might be necessary to increase the use of contract beds, enactment of the bill would result in an increased cost of operating the Veterans' Administration hospital program.
For the reasons mentioned in this report, I do not believe that enactment of the bill would be in the best interests of veterans as a whole. Accordingly, I recommend that H.R. 1143 not be favorably considered by your committee.
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this report to the committee. Sincerely yours,
BRADFORD MORSE, Deputy Administrator,
Washington, D.C., December 3, 1959.
DEAR MR. TEAGUE: The Advisory Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation and Education, constituted under the authority in section 1662, chapter 33, title 38, United States Code, at its meeting on July 6, 1959, gave consideration to S. 1138. Further consideration was given this matter at its October 26, 1959, meeting. The Committee expressed the desire that its views be made known to your committee expressed the desire that its views be made known to your committee. mittee. The views expressed at the July 6 meeting is as follows:
"S. 1138 proposes to establish a program of educational assistance for veterans who served in the Armed Forces of the United States after January 31, 1955. These benefits would be patterned after those provided for veterans of the Korean conflict by the Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952. S. 1138 also proposes to extend vocational rehabilitation benefits as now provided for disabled veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict to veterans in need of such assistance to overcome the employment handicap of a disability arising from serfvice after January 31, 1955. Vocational rehabilitation would become a permanent program and not limited to those serving during the post-Korean induction period.
"The Advisory Committee is cognizant that inequities may have resulted through the termination of entitlement for education and training benefits under chapter 33, title 38, United States Code, as of January 31, 1955.
"The Advisory Committee favors the extension of some education and training benefits to veterans so circumstanced so long as individuals may be inducted into the Armed Forces under the Selective Training and Service Act. However, the Committee believes that the Congress will find it desirable to give further careful study to the equities and inequities that are inherent in any provision for the extension of education and training benefits to veterans.
"It is further recommended that provision for vocational rehabilitation be made for persons who acquire a disability in active service in the Armed Forces of the United States during periods of war or peace, and that such benefits be not less than applicable to those veterans who are now eligible for vocational rehabilitation under chapter 31, title 38, United States Code."
After considerable deliberation at its October 26, 1959, meeting, the committee reaffirmed the position taken at its July 6, 1959, meeting as expressed in the above quotation, but amplified it as follows:
"The Committee wishes to amplify paragraph 2 of its July 6, 1959, statement by urging the Congress, in consideration of any extension of educational benefits for veterans, to initiate a much broader approach to this problem not limited only to veterans. Ample and proper educational opportunities for the youth of America is a fundamental problem involving the security and welfare of the Nation and should be considered as such. Action affecting basic issues, the Committee believes, should not be considered piece by piece to benefit special groups. Perhaps the problem should be studied with the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as well as by the Veterans' Administration and appropriate committee of Congress."
My view on legislation to provide major benefits such as education and training and loan assistance to those who sustained no disablement in their peace. time service have been presented to your committee in reports on various bills, particularly H.R. 2258. Briefly, I do not believe that present circumstances justify these special forms of assistance for this group of ex-servicemen. However, I want to reemphasize my feeling that legislation should be enacted to provide vocational rehabilitation for those peacetime ex-servicemen who have a definite need for training to overcome an employment handicap produced by a service-connected disability. Sincerely yours,
(For and in the absence of
GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE,
Washington, D.C., February 17, 1960.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: I refer to your request for the views of the Department of Defense with respect to S. 1138, 86th Congress, a bill to provide readjustment assistance to veterans who serve in the Armed Forces between January 31, 1955, and July 1, 1963, as enacted by the Senate on July 21, 1959,
The purpose of S. 1138 is stated generally in its title. Under provisions of the bill, as passed by the Senate, post-Korean veterans would be provided three major types of benefits which are patterned closely after the forms of assistance authorized under the GI bills for certain veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict. These are (a) educational and vocational training assistance (sec. 2 of the bill); (b) vocational rehabilitation training for veterans with service-connected disabilities (sec. 3 of the bill); and (c) guaranteed and direct loan assistance for the purchase of (1) homes, including homes on farms, and (2) farmlands, livestock, machinery and other equipment to be used in farming operations conducted by veterans (sec. 4 of the bill).
The question of providing benefits of the type contemplated by S. 1138 to peacetime veterans of the military service was one of the major topics of consideration of the President's Commission on Veterans' Pensions, established in 1955 with Gen. Omar X. Bradley as Chairman. That Commission in its final report to the President on April 23, 1956, concluded that, in view of the changed character of our national military responsibilities for the foreseeable future, peacetime veterans should not be provided benefits such as were provided to veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict.
The primary reason for offering postservice assistance to the veterans of World War II and the Korean conflict was to assist them in making the transition from a period of military service in time of war or national emergency to civilian life. The Department of Defense believes that to apply this same reasoning to personnel now in service leads to the inference that service in the Armed Forces is something abnormal and undesirable for which a man deserves rehabilitation or extra privileges.
The Department of Defense recognizes that s. 1138 involves questions of broad national policy beyond the scope of the Department of Defense. However, it must be pointed out that proposals of this nature have a very definite effect on the ability of the Armed Forces to retain qualified personnel. Programs of educational and vocational assistance encourage personnel to leave military service immediately after accruing the maximum benefits which can be gained. This results in a serious handicap to the Armed Forces in their