« PreviousContinue »
not to exceed 48 months. Under the Korean GI Bill, the period of entitlement was equal to one and one-half times the duration of active service but not to exceed 36 months. Although current law permits a similar maximum of 36 months, eligibility is computed on the basis of only one month for each month of service.
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE CHESTER L. MIZE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF KANSAS Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to file this statement in support of H.R. 4500, which I introduced February 1, 1967, for the purpose of making it possible for veterans of World War I, receiving pensions under the old pension law, to elect to receive payment either under that law or the new pension law which went into effect July 1, 1960, so they can reap the greater benefit at any given time.
At the outset, I wish to commend this Committee for its continuing effort to adjust veterans pensions in the light of changing ecomomic conditions and for its recognition that the payments should be tied to the relative need of the pensioners. Great progress was made in the adoption of Public Law 86–200 ; but, valiant efforts to the contrary, it wasn't possible to eliminate all of the inequities.
At the time the new pension law went into effect, many Veterans of World War I changed over without realizing that their pensions would be lower than the amounts they were previously receiving. Other veterans who had not reached age 65 by the time the new law went into effect, were denied the right to make the same election as those veterans who were already receiving benefits prior to the new law.
Ralph A. Miller, the Department Commander of the Kansas Veterans of World War I, has written me to state why he feels that all veterans of World War I should have this option. He writes: “Using myself as an example, I was born July 7, 1897, and on June 30, 1960, I was 63 years of age, unable to retire for two years, so I was forced to apply under the amended version, and being a retired railroad conductor and qualified to receive an annuity based upon my railroad service, this and the amount I receive is counted as income against my veterans pension, thus allowing me $48 per month. Let us compare this with my neighbor who was born in 1895. We served in the same war, under the same flag, but he being 65 and retired in June, 1960, draws $78.75 veterans pension and his railroad retirement is not counted as income. In other words, I'm penalized for being born two years too late even though my service to my country, and I am proud of it, was the same as that of my neighbor."
Mr. Miller's case points up an inequity which the bill I introduced would correct. According to estimates by the Veterans Administration, there are some 350,000 World War I veterans who would be similarly affected. It appears, therefore, Mr. Chairman, that sufficient basis exists for incorporating this change
any pension legislation which Congress adopts this season, I respectfully urge your thoughtful consideration of H.R. 4500.
Experience has proven that these investments in the future of Veterans have increased the taxable income of the persons trained and have added to our much-needed reservoir of skilled and educated manpower. Therefore, I urge early improvements in educational benefits so that they do produce the desired result-assist Veterans in returning to the education community to prepare for responsible citizenship and to contribute to the economic and industrial welfare of the Nation.
Mr. Chairman: I appreciate the courtesy this Committee has extended to me. I have reviewed the resolutions submitted to me by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans and other Veterans groups. I do not want to take any more of this Committee's valuable time. However, I know that the Committee will hear from many other groups, and I am sure this Committee will extend to them every courtesy and consideration of the views they express as they have so graciously given me. There are many inequities that exist under present Veterans Administration laws, and I am sure this Committee will explore each and every area of the proposed legislation before this Committee. I know fairness and justice will prevail.
STATEMENT BY HON. ED EDMONDSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF OKLAHOMA
Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for this opportunity to express my support for legislation which would bring veterans' benefits up to a more reasonable level, in view of today's cost of living, and which would put our Viet Nam veterans on equal footing with veterans of previous wars, so far as benefits go.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to tell you why I have joined you and a number of our colleagues in introducing this legislation.
First, I think the benefits we are paying our veterans are completely out of line with the cost of living, and must be raised to a more reasonable figure. Our veterans' benefit program was initiated and is operated as an expression of gratitude of the American people to the men who have willingly defended our country in time of war at risk of life, and, too often, at cost of life, and to the widows and orphans those who gave their lives have left behind.
I believe these benefits to our veterans and their widows and orphans are correct and right as an expression of gratitude. I believe they have been earned. I also believe we are not fulfilling our national commitment in this area unless we conduct periodic reassessments of our veterans' benefit program as compared with the value of the dollar. This bill is a result of such a reassessment, and I believe it should be passed.
Second, I think every American would agree with me and the other sponsors of this legislation that our Viet Nam veterans are entitled to every bit as much consideration under the veterans' benefit programs as veterans of previous wars.
Despite the nature of the Viet Nam war, our young men are every bit as willing to serve their country in Viet Nam as they have been in other parts of the world in other wars. All reports indicate this is one of the finest-perhaps the finest—military force the United States has ever fielded. The men who make it up, and the survivors of those who do not return, should share equally with all our other veterans.
Mr. Chairman, may I commend you and this great committee for giving this legislation early consideration in this Congress. Too often in the past Congress has been less than prompt in enacting necessary veterans' legislation.
I believe our veterans and their widows and orphans should be among the first to receive adjustments in payments, and not among the last. Through your good efforts, that is going to be the case in the 90th Congress.
STATEMENT BY THE HONORABLE CRAIG HOSMER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. Chairman, the above-captioned bill would amend Title 38 of the United States Code to provide for a pension of $75.00 per month for widows of veterans of World War I. Quite frankly I believe that this is not enough. I recommend that a pension of $100.00 per month be provided for these widows.
We all know that the cost of living is constantly increasing. Althongh the Administration is very generous through its many “Great Society" programs, it has forgotten the veterans, their dependents and survivors. I think it is time that we took action to see that his segment of Americans particularly the veterans of World War I or their survivors—are provided with more realistic benefits.
I respectfully urge favorable action on legislation to provide a pension of $100.00 per month for widows of Veterans of World War I.
Legislation is before Congress again which would give a substantial increase in social security benefits. This has been greeted as a much-needed and very important step to insure that social security recipients receive high enough benefits to maintain a decent standard of living. However, I recall very well the effect the previous social security increase, authorized by the Social Security Amendments of 1965, had on thousands of veterans and their dependents by either reducing or terminating their pension payments.
This adverse effect results from the fact that veterans, their dependents, as well as their widows, are subject to certain income limitations and should the increase in social security exceed the amounts prescribed by the Veterans Administration, pensions are cut back or terminated.
Many veterans who are entitled to social security benefits are close to the maximum income limitations and with a slight increase in their social security payment, they stand to lose all of their VA pension. The difference between the social security increase and what they lose in pension payments can run into hundreds of dollars and literally mean the difference between whether they can maintain themselves or are forced to seek welfare assistance.
To meet this problem, I have introduced a bill, H.R. 720, which would amend title 38 of the United States Code. It provides that public or private retirement, annuity, or endowment payments, including monthly social security bene fits, shall not be included in computing annual income for the purpose of determining eligibility for a pension under chapter 15 of Title 38.
With the cost of living constantly increasing, I believe that steps should be taken once and for all which will remove fear from the minds of our veterans that they will lose their pensions if their annual outside income is above the limitations set by the VA. If all public or private retirement, annuity, and social security benefits are excluded in computing their annual income, the permanently and totally disabled veterans, receiving pensions for non-serviceconnected disabilities will no longer be faced with the problem confronting them today.
It is time that action was taken to help this small-in-numbers but large-inneed group. Therefore I respectfully request favorable action on H.R. 720.
STATEMENT BY HON. WALTER S. BARING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF NEVADA
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to express my views concerning the bills I introduced and which concern two pending before the Veterans Affairs Committee today-H.R. 4698, to provide that monthly social security benefit payments shall not be included as income for the purpose of determining eligibility for a pension under Title 38 of the United States Code, and H.R. 3280 to increase the rates of pension payable to certain veterans and their widows. I would have desired to appear before you in person, but I will be in Parris Island to see my son graduate from Boot Camp of the United States Marine Corps.
Mr. Chairman, I cannot urge too strongly the passage of the legislation now before this committee. Passage of my bill, H.R. 4698, would be a Godsend and a blessing for veterans, 'especially those of World War One. There is no doubt in my mind that there is a crying need for an increase in Social Security. But to penalize a veteran's pension income due to an increase in Social Security is defeating the purpose of the Administration—to assure a decent living for the elderly. The veterans' pensions are based upon the sacrifice the individual made to protect our freedoms. · A grateful Nation should justly reward the veterans and not penalize them for having contributed to the progress of the Nation.
As for my other bill, H.R. 3280, this bill provides for cost of living increases for all veterans alone, veterans with dependents, widows alone, widows with children and children alone who are now receiving a pension under Public Law 86–211. This bill provides a $5 per month rate increase for SpanishAmerican War widows, whose average age is 84 and who are now receiving the monthly pension of $65. The bill calls for an increase of $5 per month in the "housebound” rate for veterans and the creation of a new “housebound” rate of $100 per month for veterans under the old pension law. There is also a spe cial pension or aid and attendance allowance of $50 per month for widows receiving pension under Public Law 86–211, the old pension law, the SpanishAmerican War and prior wars, who are found in need of aid and attendance.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to go on record as being one hundred percent behind the legislation that would provide 'equal benefits for Viet Nam veterans. These Viet Nam veterans should receive the benefits comparable to those granted to veterans of other wars.
We have let our veterans down too many times. When we want our men to serve, we wave the flag and the bands play, but when it comes to helping the veterans who have given their lives for our country, we pull the flag down and put the drums away and become very miserly.
STATEMENT BY HON. WILLIAM H. NATCHER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF KENTUCKY
Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, for the record my name is William H. Natcher and I have the honor to represent the Second District of Kentucky.
On January 16, 1967, I introduced H. R. 2363, which was referred to your Committee. This bill extends veteran benefits to persons serving in the Armed Forces between November 12, 1918, and July 2, 1921. Those persons who would benefit under the provisions of H. R. 2363 were members of the United States military occupational forces who served in Europe between November 12, 1918, and July 2, 1921, and, therefore, in view of the services they rendered during the occupation, I believe they should be allowed to enjoy veteran status and should be extended the benefits accruing from such status. H. R. 2363 would provide for a reestablishment and a reinstatement of veteran status previously enjoyed by those persons who served in the occupational forces in Europe after World War I, and which, in my opinion, should never have been removed.
Mr. Chairman, only a relatively few persons will be affected by H. R. 2363, and I firmly believe the services rendered by these individuals should be appropriately recognized. I know that you and the Members of your Committee will give every consideration to H. R. 2363 and it is my hope that this bill will be favorably reported.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for the record my name is William H. Natcher, and I have the honor of representing the Second District of Kentucky.
I have introduced on January 30, 1967, H.R. 4132, which was referred to your Committee. Under the provisions of this bill, all privileges, rights and benefits granted to persons who served in the military or naval service during World War I would be granted to members of the Armed Forces of the United States who served ninety days or more during the period beginning May 9, 1916, and ending April 6, 1917, in Mexico, on the borders of Mexico, in the waters adjacent to Mexico, or in any combination of the foregoing. The unremarried widows and dependent children of such members of the Armed Forces of the United States would also be extended the benefits granted to unremarried widows and dependent children of World War I veterans.
Mr. Chairman, H.R. 4132 will affect only a relatively few persons, but, if enacted into law, will correct an injustice which should have been corrected many years ago. It is my hope that you and the Members of your Committee will report this bill favorably.
STATEMENT BY HON. ODIN LANGEN, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE
STATE OF MINNESOTA
Mr. Chairman, I am grateful for the opportunity to present this statement in behalf of H.R. 6374, my veterans pension bill, and I wish to commend you and the Committee for scheduling consideration on the many pending pension bills.
The galloping rate of inflation in this country is reason enough for giving veterans full equity in pensions, but that is not the only reason I have introduced my bill to boost veterans' income limitations and pension payments.
H.R. 6374 would raise the income limitations by 20%, so that recipients of veterans' pensions could not be further adversely affected by the 1965 increase in social security benefits, as well as by any increase enacted by the current Congress. In addition, it would provide an increase in veterans' pension payments patterned after last year's House-passed veterans' bill, which unfortunately died in the Senate.
It is to be remembered that over 29,000 veterans, widows, and survivors had their monthly pensions reduced or wiped out completely as a result of the Social Security Amendments of 1965, and that this hardship and inequity is still in need of rectification. That is why I sponsored legislation in the 89th Congress known as the Veterans' Pension Equity Bill, and presented a statement in support thereof during the July 1966 hearings. That is why I ask you now to approve legislation designed to correct this unintentional but still very real hardship and equity.
H.R. 6374 would permit full pension entitlement as well as a much deserved cost-of-living increase. As their purchasing power melts away, because of inflation, pensioners can put every last dollar to good use.
Thank you for the privilege of presenting this statement in support of my pending bill.
STATEMENT BY HON. E. S. JOHNNY WALKER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS
FROM THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO
Mr. Chairman, distinguished Members of this committee, I am grateful for this chance you have given me to make a statement on the subject of benefits for Vietnam veterans.
For many years now we have been disrupting the lives of our young people. For some, this disruption has meant only a temporary period of inconvenience, for others, it has meant temporary disability, for still others permanent disability. Some of those young, strong boys are lost to us forever.
Our armed forces, in order to get the needed manpower, advertises that if you join up, you will receive valuable training which may be turned to good account in civilian life. This is true in some cases, but in mose cases, it just isn't so.
What would you expect the answer to be if you applied for a job and put down your experience as "Infantry Training, U.S. Army.” There is very little use for such experience or training in civilian life. You might even get fancy, and say "Jungle Warfare Expert, with Paratroop Training.” The possibilities are very limited.
The Congress acted toward the end of World War II, and came out with the G.I. Bill of Rights. Note that it was called a "right.” Part of the tremendous cost of war is helping those who have done the job of waging that war. Rightly so, I believe.
Again after the Korean conflict, Congress recognized the need to help our fighting men pick up the threads of their interrupted lives. The Korean G.I. Bill was enacted. However, the Korean G.I. Bill was a somewhat scaled down version of the World War II G.I. Bill.
The 89th Congress enacted new veterans' legislation, which was a scaled down version of the Korean G.I. Bill.
This committee is now considering a proposal to bring equity to the present generation of veterans. Generally speaking, H.R. 4284 brings the Vietnam era veteran up to the same level as veterans of the Korean conflict.
We cannot say to this present generation of veterans, "you are not as good as a veteran of our earlier conflicts. You are a second-class veteran.'
I shall not go into this measure in depth since I know that this committee has an excellent staff and you have all the information and figures you need, including the fact that these veterans programs have given in some small way a new starting point in the lives of those from whom we have taken and expected much. And that veterans legislation has given this nation more college graduates than it would have had without these benefits.
Therefore, I respectfully ask this committee to look favorably upon this proposal.
I realize that this committee is extremely busy, and that there are many others who wish to give this committee information and opinions regarding this legislation.
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, and distinguished committee Members, for giving me this opportunity to submit my views on the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Act.
STATEMENT BY HON. J. IRVING WHALLEY, REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I welcome this opportunity to appear before you today and testify in behalf of my bill H.R. 6128. The object of this bill is to provide that for purposes of pension, a veteran 70 years of age or older shall be considered to have no annual income. I am convinced that it is just and necessary for several reasons.