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READJUSTMENT BENEFITS FOR INDIVIDUALS ENTERING THE ARMED SERVICES AFTER JANUARY 31, 1955
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 1960
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to adjournment, in room 356, Old House Office Building, Hon. James A. Haley presiding.
Mr. HALEY. The committee will be in order.
The first witness to appear before the Veterans' Affairs Committee is Hon. Ed Edmondson, of Oklahoma.
Mr. Edmondson, will you come around? We are very glad to have you here with us.
The distinguished gentleman is not only a very able Member of the Congress, he is my colleague on another committee. When he is not looking after the affairs of Indians—and maybe they are people from Oklahoma, I don't know-he is always interested in veterans affairs.
Mr. Edmondson, we are very happy to have you here this morning. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF HON. ED EDMONDSON, REPRESENTATIVE IN THE
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES, FROM THE SECOND DISTRICT, STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. EDMONDSON. Mr. Chairman, it is a great pleasure for me to appear before this distinguished committee. I think it is a wonderful committee and does a great work. I am grateful for the opportunity to appear before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in support of S. 1138, which has been described by Mr. Hughes, of the Bureau of the Budget, as a bill “for peacetime ex-servicemen."
While some may regard this bill as a peacetime GI bill, I believe it would be more accurate to call it the cold-war GI bill. Although we are not engaged in actual shooting war, the conditions under which our servicemen are serving today can hardly be described as "peaceful."
The worldwide development of our forces has assuredly introduced elements of hazard into the service of thousands in our Armed Forces which were not present before the cold war began. Can anyone question the danger, for example, of the American servicemen who are now on guard along the demilitarized zone in Korea, in occupied Berlin, or in Formosa?
Anyone who has witnessed operations aboard a modern aircraft carrier, on a SAC base during an alert, or at a missile firing, will
readily agree that military service during the cold war is not divorced from danger and personal risk.
But these are not the most compelling reasons for the bill, Mr. Chairman.
I am for the bill because I believe the program will help to build a stonger America.
I am for it because I am convinced, on the basis of our experience under the old GI bill, that it will more than pay its way in future tax revenues and benefits to our country. The additional skills and earning capacity of the men and women who trained under the GI bill are among our greatest national assets today.
Finally, I am for the bill because I believe it will improve the morale and spirit of the young men who serve in the Armed Forces not only as fighting men during their service, but as citizens in a peaceful world tomorrow.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
If not, I thank you very much, Congressman Edmondson. We are glad to have you before the committee.
Mr. EDMONDSON. Thank you very much.
Mr. Haley. The next witness is Mr. Robert G. Bernreuter, special assistant to president for student affairs, Pennsylvania State Üniversity.
We are glad to have you here this morning. I see that you have a prepared statement.
You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT G. BERNREUTER, DEAN OF ADMISSIONS
AND REGISTRAR, AND SPECIAL ASSISTANT FOR STUDENT AFFAIRS, THE PENNSYLVANIA STATE UNIVERSITY, UNIVERSITY PARK, PA.
Mr. BERNREUTER. Mr. Chairman, my name is Robert G. Bernreuter. I am the dean of admissions, registrar, and special assistant for student affairs at the Pennsylvania State University. My duties require me to evaluate the credentials and to predict the scholastic success of all undergraduate students, including veterans, who apply for admission at our university, to keep the records of their academic work, and to administer the programs for their counseling and their social and recreational activities. As a consequence, I am able to speak from firsthand knowledge concerning the success of the veterans who have been students at our university.
The veterans have done extremely well. Their scholastic records average higher than those of the nonveteran. Proportionately fewer of them have been dropped from the university for poor scholarship. They have also shown more tenacity, and fewer have dropped out of their own accord before graduation.
In addition to being good students, they have been good citizens. During this present year, only four veterans have been in serious disciplinary trouble with our dean of men's office. The other 1,440 have fine records, which is surprising in the light of all we hear about delinquency these days. Furthermore, we have found the veterans to show qualities of maturity and leadership all out of proportion to their numbers. One evidence of this is the extent to which the dean of men's office has chosen veterans to serve as counselors in our residence halls. At present only 10 percent of our students are veterans but 59 percent of those who have been chosen as residence hall counselors are veterans.
This evidence that the veterans are better students, better disciplined, and have greater qualities of leadership, supports the results of the studies we made last year and reported at the hearings of Senate bill 1138 before the Senate Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.
My attitude toward the veteran as a fine student is shared by the faculty of the university. Whenever a student is dropped for poor scholarship, he can be reinstated only upon action of a faculty committee. This committee is quite strict and will reinstate a student only when it has good evidence that the boy is prepared to do well. Their attitude toward veterans is illustrated by an incident that happened at the beginning of this semester. A boy who was dropped for poor scholarship 2 years ago and who had been in the Air Force, on duty in Alaska, applied for reinstatement. Originally he had done very poor work in a nonscientific course. During his military experience he became interested in electronics. He did well in the service schools. He applied for readmission into electrical engineering, one of our very hardest fields. In considering his case, the committee took into account the immaturity he showed as a freshman, the good record he made in the service schools, and the fine record he made in his military service generally. They were impressed with the tremendous development in his maturity and the seriousness with which he was now approaching his college work. He was reinstated this semester and is doing well. This is illustrative of hundreds of undergraduate cases which this committee has handled.
My own experience, the experience of our dean of men, and the experience of our faculty committee, all combine to show that the veteran on our campus has been a very desirable student. We would like to have a continuing flow coming to us from the various branches of the armed services.
Following World War II and the Korean war, a great many young men found it possible to attend college because of the GI benefits. The provisions of the Korean war bill benefited not only the veterans but also benefited the economy of Pennsylvania. I can illustrate this by describing what took place in one of our depressed industrial areas in Pennsylvania. It became a regular pattern for a bright high school student to go into the military service immediately after graduation from high school. He was then able to attend college because of the educational benefits. Many such students enrolled in the 2-year engineering program at one of the campuses which our university maintains in that part of the State. Upon completion of this 2-year college program, they found many job opportunities open to them in engineering. This pattern of high school graduation, then military service, then a college program, developed a reservoir of educated manpower in this depressed industrial area.
Since the educational benefits for veterans have terminated, this whole pattern of behavior has changed. Students of this sort are simply not finding it possible to attend college. This is a great loss to themselves and to the industrial area in which they live. It is because we hope that this pattern of behavior can be reinstated that we are anxious to have the educational benefits again provided for veterans.
We had hoped that the national defense loan program would serve as a substitute for veterans' benefits. As yet, it has not done so. It has, of course, helped a great many students but it does not help the kind of boy 'I am talking about. When a boy's father has had to struggle hard all of his life on a small salary to keep a family going, there develops a great fear of debt. It is absolutely useless to tell such a boy that he should borrow from $1,000 to $5,000 in order to finance an education. All that the family has learned about prudence argues against incurring such a debt. The consequence is that the boy leaves high school and finds whatever job is available and gives up all thoughts of higher education.
As we look toward the immediate future in higher education, we see a tremendous increase in the number of students. We do not need to do anything to get enough students to fill our classrooms. At Penn State we will be forced to increase in the next 10 years from approximately 20,000 students to approximately 35,000 students in order to take care of the natural increase in the number of collegeage students. Consequently, I want to make it very clear that I do not advocate the extension of educational benefits for veterans in order to get more students into our university.
Our real need is for students who are prepared to benefit from their college years. As I have said, we find that the veteran is better prepared than the nonveteran to take advantage of his college opportunities. We hope that the veterans' benefits will be reestablished and that more students who could not otherwise attend college will come. We hope that they will bring with them the same increased level of maturity, seriousness of purpose, and selfdiscipline that has characterized those students who have obtained educational benefits in the past.
Anything that the Congress of the United States can do to increase the number of veterans in our universities will be of real benefit to the students, to the universities, and to the country.
I wish to express the appreciation of the Pennsylvania State University for this opportunity to present these views to the House of Representatives Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
Mr. HALEY. Are there any questions?
Mr. Flynn. Yes. I appreciate very much your giving this information to the committee.
Prior to your coming here, a few days ago some of the representatives of the Department of Defense appeared and opposed the extension of the GI bill of rights educational benefits to the peacetime soldier.
If I recall their testimony correctly it was to the effect that there are about 100,000 new boys being taken into service, mostly through enlistment, each year. Their past record disclosed that approximately 45 percent of the boys that left service, in I believe 1958, or at least the last year the benefits were there, did so giving as their reason that they wanted to take advantage of the education opportunities under the GI bill.
They testified further that these boys had had from 9 to, I believe, 26 weeks of training, mostly technical in nature, and that he believed