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What is your attitude on that?
Mr. STOVER. Well, again, this is just my own thinking, and the thinking of the staff. The loan feature only applies, as I understand it, to those persons who would be attending a college or university.
Mr. ADAIR. And who are in the lower half of the class.
Mr. STOVER. Who are in the lower half of the class. They would then not be eligible to remain under the program.
As I understand it, no other training program, under this bill, would suffer from that type of what I would call discrimination. In other words, if you are on the job training somewhere, and it is possible to determine it, and you fell below the halfway mark, you would still continue to receive all the benefits. But if you are going to college, under this feature, you would, as I understand it, automatically be taken out from under the grant in the program and have to go under the loan feature of the program, and ultimately repay it.
Mr. Adair. Unless you subsequently improved your grade.
Mr. ADAIR. Well, what is your attitude? What is the attitude of the VFW on that? That that provision should be in, or should not be in?
Mr. STOVER. That that provision should not be in; should be struck out.
Mr. ADAIR. That is a definite attitude?
Mr. ADAIR. Now, it is no longer speculative, as indicated at the top of page 3 ?
Mr. Stover. That is right; we are opposed to that feature of the bill.
Mr. ADAIR. Now, suppose that there was a man taken into the service after January 31, 1955. Suppose he has a service-connected disability. Is it now the position of the VFW that he should get 80 percent compensation, or 100 percent compensation?
Mr. STOVER. It is now the position of the VFW that he should be provided the compensation at the rate now provided by the law, which is generally 80 percent. There are conditions under which he could be injured or receive his disability, which would warrant 100 percent.
For example, as I understand it, if he were handling some instrumentality of war, and it blew up, he would get 100 percent. But if he was driving in an automobile between bases in the United States, I think he would, as I understand it, only be eligible for 80 percent.
Mr. Adair. If we adopt and enact into law this legislation here proposed, or something like it, granting peacetime educational benefits, then would you think that VFW might come in and say, “We have extended educational benefits to peacetime veterans; now let's bring the compensation benefits to peacetime veterans up on a par, and instead of 80 percent give 100 percent"?
Or do you think your organization is going to make a distinction between compensation and educational benefits?
Mr. STOVER. Whatever I say would be strictly a guess. I have no way of answering that question. I was trying to think of some other resolutions or positions we have taken, but I cannot recall any right Mr. ADAIR. Does it seem to you, Mr. Stover, that it is a little bit inconsistent to urge full peacetime benefits on one basis, that is educational, and not on the other, to wit, compensation!
Mr. STOVER. I will direct your attention, first, before answering that, to the fact that we have the Survivors Benefit Act, which you know provide survivors' benefits for veterans on the same basis for the survivors regardless of whether the service was wartime or peacetime.
For example, these sailors who were all killed over Rio de Janeirotheir survivors will get the same benefits as if they were killed on the battlefront during World War II. And our organization, so far as I recall, supported that bill. I do not recall whether the VFW supported it in its entirety or not.
But I think that the system under which veterans' benefits are granted, the laws under which they are now granting benefits, are already what we call a patch-quilt or a patch-work operation.
In other words, we have a case where a man can die in the service, and his survivors will get full benefits. But if he lives and receives compensation, he only gets 80 percent.
I think this type of legislation is not going to make it uniform. And I agree with you that there are some inconsistencies. I think there are some already. And if you do enact legislation along this line, I do not think it means that the VFW is going to come in tomorrow and ask that other legislation be brought up to date, so to speak, so that all peacetime veterans get the same benefits as wartime veterans. I seriously doubt if that will ever happen.
But we are for this bill only for the fact that it is tied up with the Universal Military Training Draft Act.
Mr. ADAIR. You think with respect to matters of compensation, then, the VFW is likely to adhere to its traditional position?
Mr. STOVER. That would be my guess at this time, yes, sir.
Mr. ADAIR. But you feel that if the Congress at this time enacts benefits for peacetime veterans, they should include educational, home loan, and vocational rehabilitation ?
Mr. STOVER. At this time, yes, sir. That would be the extent, as included in this resolution, of our position.
Mr. Jones. I would like to take a minute or two because I attended the convention committee meeting that discussed this resolution.
Although this is a slight departure from the VFW's previous stand, I think it is more of a recognition in the minds of the members of the committee and the delegates to the convention of the difference between what they call peacetime service after 1955 and the long period between the two World Wars, and also the recognition that this is a temporary benefit, a readjustment benefit, deemed merited, because the bulk of the young men are being required to enter service, and their plans and hopes are disturbed. We recognize, of course, some enlist voluntarily, but many who enlist voluntarily do so because of the compulsion of pending inductment involuntarily.
Mr. Saylor mentioned our stand on these campaigns in the Moro Province, and whether we should be for peacetime benefits for this period after 1955, and not for those people who served during those various periods. VFW very consistently has taken a stand that these campaign periods particularly should be recognized as
wartime service, for whatever benefits are payable for any other wartime period of service.
We particularly have gone to bat to try to bring wartime service for the persons who served in the Moro Province, and others as well who have had campaign service.
Then I would like to comment on this loan provision, Mr. Chairman.
For about 11 years I was director of the State Approving Agency of Kansas on both of the programs and became rather well acquainted with the administration of these programs.
In the first place, I think it is unfair to give a veteran benefit or give veterans benefits and say while they all meet the minimum requirements of the schools, yours is going to be a loan and yours is going to be a grant, just because there is a slight difference in the grades over the past period.
A second thing I would say about that it would be placing on those least likely to be able to repay, that is, the lower group, the obligation of repayment.
And the third thing is that I think it would create some administrative problems which would be almost insurmountable.
I know some educators disagree on that, but I think it would be very difficult to determine just who is below the halfway mark and who is above the halfway mark.
So I think we are in complete agreement with the other witness that from the staff point of view, we are completely against the loan provision of S. 1138.
Mr. HALEY. Does that complete your statement?
Thank you very much, Mr. Stover, for your presentation here this morning.
The Jewish War Veterans have been invited to testify here this morning. It is my information that they wish to present a statement.
May I inquire if that statement is available?
Mr. Haley. Without prejudice, the statement, when presented by the Jewish War Veterans, will be made a part of the record at this
point in the proceedings.
Washington, D.C., March 2, 1960.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : Due to unforeseen circumstances, I am unable to appear, in person, before your committee on March 4 as previously arranged. I am enclosing a statement on the legislation which you are considering regarding educational benefits for GI's. I shall greatly appreciate your including this statement in the record of your committee hearings. Cordially,
BERNARD WEITZER, National Legislative Director.
STATEMENT BY BERNARD WEITZER, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR, JEWISH WAR
VETERANS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA On behalf of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America, I greatly appreciate this opportunity to present to your committee, our approval of and views on the education and benefits provisions of S. 1138. For several years, the views of our organization—the oldest active war veterans organization in the country—have been expressed by a resolution on this subject passed at our annual national conventions. The most recent resolution was passed at our 64th Annual National Convention assembled in New York. A copy of the resolution is attached.
It is clear from the tenor of this resolution that our organization is strongly in favor of educational benefits and the views I express on the legislation you are considering are limited to that subject.
Our organization, as some of the members of your committee know, has, for 40 years, advocated and supported universal military training. We have also supported selective service, the Reserve Forces Act of 1955 and career incentive legislation for maintaining and strengthening our Armed Forces.
Unfortunately, we do not have universal military training and the numbers of men called upon to serve through the Selective Service System are only a small proportion of the youths who fall within the age limits set by the Selective Service Act. Those few who are called upon and are inducted, are handicapped to some degree in following through with their normal life program when compared with the men who are not called to service by their Selective Service Boards.
At the same time, large numbers of this age group are enlisting in our armed services rather than await call and induction by the draft because thereby they can choose the branch of the Armed Forces in which they desire to serve. For all such men, the educational priviliges which the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America recommends in its resolution should serve as an opportunity to offset any handicap which should come to them through their service in the Armed Forces.
Although the educational provisions of S. 1138 are not exactly in accord with Public Law 550, I am confident that it will substantially carry out the purposes of our resolution. The added requirements in S. 1138 in regard to length of service and to standards of scholarship will be a stimulus to the peacetime servicemen. Nevertheless, these requirements do not create a too difficult barrier for those who are in earnest about getting the full benefits of the educational program. The greater the benefits which these men get from the educational program, the greater will be the benefits to the Nation.
In figures prepared by the Bureau of the Census, there is material proof of the advantage to the men themselves, and to our Nation, which accrued from this opportunity to enter upon an educational program. The figures show that of the World War II veterans, 7,800,000 proceeded with an educational program under the GI bill of rights. That is practically one out of every two men who served in World War II. Among veterans of Korea fighting, more than 1 million went to college through the educational benefits provided for them and another 1 million took other types of training in schools below college levelon the job and on the farm. The Bureau of the Census figures show that between 1947 and 1957, World War II veterans just about doubled their annual income from a median of $2,401 in 1947 to $4,985 in 1957. That is an increase of 108 percent. For nonveteran population in the same age group, the census figures show a median annual income of $2,585 in 1947, and in 1957, the nonveteran figures show an annual median income of $4,279. That is an increase of 66 percent. To put it a little differently, World War II veterans, man for man, had surpassed by 1957 their nonveteran fellow citizens in the same age group by a $700 per annum higher income.
Taking into consideration only the World War II veterans' group and including all of them—15,600,000 veterans—both those who participated in the educational benefits and those who did not, they earned $10,920 million more per year than the nonveteran citizens of the similar age group. The Veterans' Administration spent for these educational benefits a total of $14,500 million. I believe that this ranks as one of the most profitable, if not the most profitable Government investment ever made. Not only is this a significant addition to the productive power of our Nation, but on the basis of the additional income taxes which our Government collects on this added earning power, the $14,500 million cost is paying better returns than any of the better securities listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Further, those added income-tax payments will continue and probably will increase over the years.
Your committee which included in the original GI bill educational benefits and in 1952, through Public Law 550, greatly improved upon the original bill, deserves: great credit for the benefits which millions of war veterans enjoyed through your action. The benefits to our country have been greater than we can measure by figures alone. Those benefits will continue through this generation and the next. In S. 1138, you have the means to continue such benefits. I hope you will not permit the negative views of the Defense Department and the Veterans' Administration to prevent the men who have served in the Armed Forces since Public Law 550 has been inapplicable, from having the opportunities which the educational benefits furnish, provided the men have the will and the capacity to benefit. As long as we are operating under the Selective Service Act, those individuals who serve in the Armed Forces should not be disadvantaged solely by the period of their service.
EXTEND EDUCATION BENEFITS DURING PERIOD OF SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT
Whereas the 82d Congress passed the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952, Public Law 550, which among other benefits, provided that persons serving in the Armed Forces of the United States were eligible for the educational benefits theretofore provided under the GI bill; and
Whereas the President of the United States, by proclamation, did terminate the benefits of the aforesaid Public Law 550, said termination date being January 31, 1955, and thereby, the educational benefits to the men of our Armed Forces have been terminated; and
Whereas the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America believe that the educational benefits provisions of Public Law 550, while in the nature of reward to the members of the Armed Forces for their services, were of value to this country in the following particulars :
1. By providing assistance to the members of the Armed Forces in procuring an education which would equip them to make a lving, provide homes for their families, and, in general, raise the living standards of this great Nation;
2. By providing equal educational opportunities for the members of the armed services with those, who for one reason or another, were not inducted into the services;
Whereas failure to provide educational benefits to those who entered service after January 31, 1955—
1. Discriminates amongst servicemen based strictly on the date of entry into service and not different duty requirements;
2. Abandons concept of providing an opportunity for higher education and for training which has been allowed since the GI bill on the premise of assistance to those whose lives were interrupted by service based on draft: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America in 64th annual national convention assembled in New York City, August 5-9, 1959, favor the extension of the educational benefits of the Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952, Public Law 550, during the period of time that selective service is effective, and that the eligibility to these benefits be made retroactive so as to cover those members of armed services whose service was started or terminated subsequent to January 31, 1955.
Mr. HALEY. Now, the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., asked and were given permission to testify before this committee this morning. It is my information, furnished me by the staff of the committee, that they say they do not wish to appear.
That completes the witnesses listed on the agenda this morning, and the committee is adjourned.
(Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., Friday, March 4, 1960, the committee was adjourned.)