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You did not ask the Government where to send you. The Government told you where to go, and you went.
Mr. SAYLOR. Very frankly, I got this from what happened in Pennsylvania, and I am not sold that this is the answer. I just throw it out as something from which we can start. If you have any better ideas I am perfectly willing to sit down with your organization, with this committee or anyone else, to try to work out the solution.
Mr. WALKER. It has been my reasoning to try to get over to visit you in the office of Pat O'Connor, but up to this minute, I have not been able to get over there. You will get it one of these days, I assure you. Mr. SAYLOR. I want to commend you, sir, for
statement. Mr. WALKER. Thank you. I have tried to answer your questions.
Mr. Dorn. Colonel, do you have some remarks you would like to make, or a statement would would like to submit for the record ?
Mr. GERALD. Yes.
Mr. Chairman and members of the distinguished committee, on behalf of the membership of the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., I wish to express to you and the members of this subcommittee our appreciation for your promptness, after the convening of the 90th Congress, in holding hearings on bills affecting the non-serviceconnected pension program, and your affording us the opportunity to appear before you for the purpose of expressing our views on this subject.
Your action demonstrates to us your sincere concern and awareness of the needs of our veterans and their dependents.
On January 31, 1967, the President submitted a message to the Congress requesting increased benefits for this Nation's veterans, and we veterans of World War I were most pleased that in his message the President did not neglect the elderly veteran and his dependents. The President stated :
To help meet today's cost of living, we should raise the standard of living for disabled veterans, and the widow and other dependents of deceased veterans receiving pensions.
The President went on to propose a 5.4-percent increase in pension rates for veterans and their dependents.
It is indeed gratifying to know the President is also aware of the needs of the elderly veteran, and although we are deeply appreciative of his recommendation for an increase in pension rates, and highly commend him for this, there are other important needs which we wish to briefly call to the committee's attention.
It is said, Mr. Chairman, that one shall be judged by his works. This committee by its past works has clearly demonstrated its interest and concern in the welfare of the elderly veteran and his dependents.
I am referring to your action of last year in reporting the nonservice-connected pension bill, H.R. 17488, which contained many outstanding features in addition to an increase in pension rates.
The Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., endorsed H.R. 17488, and we wish to again express our appreciation to this committee for reporting this bill.
Governmental reports show that for the past several months there has been a steady rise in the cost of living. The segment of the population that this hurts most is the sick, elderly pensioner who lives on a fixed income, and, I might add, usually a small one.
We therefore not only solicit an increase in pension rates but also we urge speedy approval of this in order that some financial relief can be received by the elderly veterans and their dependents as early as possible.
In addition to requesting an early increase in pension rates, we wish to submit for your immediate attention other proposals which we believe are as worthy of your consideration, and in many instances will be more worth while to recipients of non-service-connected pensions.
As you know, the existing laws provide a housebound allowance of $35 monthly for eligible veterans who are receiving their pension under Public Law 86-211.
We not only urge an increase in this present $35 rate, but we also request that a housebound rate of $100 a month be establshed for veterans receiving their pension under the old pension law, and who meet the present housebound requirement.
Under the present law, the veteran receiving aid-and-attendance allowance under the new pension program may be furnished by the Veterans' Administration with any medication that is prescribed by a physician.
We urge that this benefit be extended to the veteran receiving aidand-attendance allowance under the old pension law, and to also permit the furnishing of therapeutic or rehabiltative devices, medical equipment and supplies, when medically indicated, to all veterans receiving pensions based on need for regular aid and attendance, thus eliminating the present requirement that he be eligible to an invalid lift.
We further propose that any veteran who is a patient in a nursing home would be presumed to be in need of regular aid and attendance. Also that a veteran 65 or over shall be presumed to be totally and permanently disabled for pension purposes.
These two suggestions would eliminate many useless and costly physical examinations, and thus result in a savings to the Veterans Administration, as well as to expedite the payment of needed benefits to veterans.
We again urge the creation of a new and additional special allowance of $50 a month for widows who are in need of regular aid and attendance of another person, or who are patients in nursing homes.
This should be paid to eligible widows of all wars, including new law and old law cases.
In our opinion, the enactment of this proposal would be one of the most beneficial additions to the pension programs for widows that has ever been made.
There are many needy and deserving widows who have fiaithfully nursed their sick veteran husband for many months prior to his death, and whose savings have been exhausted for his care, but who have been denied pension benefits because they were married to the veteran less than 5 years.
We urge, therefore, Mr. Chairman, that this 5-year marriage requirement be reduced to 1 year.
We also urge, Mr. Chairman, that the existing law be amended to permit a widow to exclude expenses of the veteran's last illness which she paid prior to his death, and to also permit the widow of a deceased veteran to exclude amounts paid for the last illness and burial of the child of a veteran, in computing her income for pension purposes.
On of the things that has been of great concern to us, Mr. Chiarman, is the adverse effect the proposed increase in social security benefits would have on many non-service-connected pensions.
I wish to state, though, that knowing of this committee's awareness of this potential problem, and the indication that you would make appropriate adjustments in the pension program should social security be increased, has greatly alleviated our anxieties.
We are confident that you will take the necessary action should it be required, and you may be assured you will have our deepest appreciation.
We are also thankful to the President for taking note in his recent message to the Congress of the possible adverse effect in pension benefits in the event of a social security increase, and that he requested that necessary safeguards be enacted to assure that no pension will be reduced as a result of an increase in Federal benefits, such as social security.
Mr. Chairman, we also wish to state that although the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc., are primarily concerned with benefits affecting World War I veterans and their dependents, we do support the recommendations contained in the President's recent message to Congress in regard to benefits for veterans of the Vietnam conflict.
And now, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, I would like to just digress a minute and say that we feel and have always felt that your committee and the members of your distinguished committee are really a citadel as far as the veterans of World War I are concerned—as far as those who served their country back in the dark days of 1917.
We had nowhere to go except to you gentlemen. In going we always go with a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that your heart has always been with us, and that you have guided us all through the years, certainly during the years it has been my honor and privilege to appear before you.
And now one last thought, Mr. Chairman. Your bill, introduced at our request, H.R. 2068, embodies the provisions I have mentioned, and we are gratful to you for your introduction of this bill.
We take note of the fact that Congressman Kornegay of North Carolina has introduced a similar bill, H.R. 2006.
Mr. Roberts of Texas is sponsoring H.R. 3111, which contains most of the provisions we have discussed here, including some items related to readjustment.
Congressman Hanley of New York has introduced H.R. 3132, and H.R. 3433, and H.R. 3060. These bills have most of the major provisions supported by our organization.
And, Mr. Chairman, if I may continue to digress further, I should like to take note of the fact that Congressman Hanley successfully sponsored Public Law 89–730, which raises compensation for dependent parents.
We were interested in this legislation not only as a matter of simple justice, but because many of these parents are World War I veterans and widows.
Congressman Saylor, of this distinguished committee, from Pennsylvania, has introduced H.R. 1307 and H.R. 1310. These bills carry out the recommendations of our organization.
We realize the necessity for being realistic. We know that this committee did an outstanding job last year on H.R. 17488, and we are confident that you will meet with success with this legislation this session. We pledge the full support of our organization toward its enactment.
And finally, Mr. Chairman, I know that there is no doubt in the minds of you and this committee, but this is an unselfish appeal. If you look back at these plutocrats back there, you will realize they don't need any pension. “We do have so many thousands and tens of thousands that do.
If I can continue personally to keep one jump ahead of the sheriff in my
bailiwick and continue to feed my hounds, I will never appeal for a pension. So, you see, it gets down to this.
And finally, gentlemen, you perhaps will never fully know the lasting, sustaining comfort, solace, and satisfaction that now abides with teeming thousands of our comrades who, like so many of us, suffer the ravages of conflict, but now, in their twilight years, are soothed and sustained by your continued interest and aid so generously extended by your most distinguished committee, and your very capable and efficient staff.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you very much for this honor, sir.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Colonel, for also making a very splendid statement to the committee, and, of course, we are grateful for your very kind comments about the members of the subcommittee.
I might say that I appreciate, too, your remarks about the President, and I am grateful that after some years the President has come out for the first time since I have been here with a program for the veterans.
And I hope that something can be done about the national cemetary situation.
But I will say that when Vietnam last year, General Westmoreland, who is, like yourself, a South Carolinian-it seems that Pennsylvania and South Carolina are getting together here today, and I think that is good.
General Westmoreland told me and other members of the committee who have been over there that—this particular morning we were alone—and he said there are two things that will mean very much to the morale of the men actually fighting in this nasty jungle war, which is the worst I have ever seen and I was in Korea twice, and of course in Europe in World War II.
Those two things that would help them more than anything else would be a pay raise, the pay raise which was introduced and led through the Congress by your Congressman, the distinguished Mendel Rivers of the Armed Services Committee, and the other thing he mentioned was the GI bill of rights, the extension of educational benefits to those men fighting in Vietnam.
I saw there the youngest combat team I have ever seen, 19 or 20 years of age. The average age of those men in the front lines was about 19 and 20, and he said that that extension of the educational benefits to them would mean as much to the morale of his fighting team as anything, including the pay raise.
The chairman of this committee, Mr. Teague, I have known for 20 years, and I have never known a finer or more able chairman. He fought through the other provision, and was unanimously supported by the members of this committee and the Congress, so I think these events that took place in this past year warrant the attention and gratitude not only of the veterans but of the American people, and I think it has been largely responsible for the continuing good morale of our men 10,000 and 12,000 miles from home.
I might say this, too: Presidents of the United States come and go, but the real power in this country, as it should be, is in the hands of this Congress.
Great committee chairmen like the chairman of this committee, and I can name others, those of Ways and Means and Appropriations, who really are close to the grassroots and close to the people of this country, are the real power in the American form of government, and have been, over the years.
Mr. Saylor, do you have any questions of Colonel Gerald ?
Mr. SAYLOR. Colonel Gerald, I want to commend you as an outstanding chairman.
I want to say that I am delighted to see that the President came out in this way. It is the first time I have known of any administration coming out with a statement like this. It is a sign of progress.
I just want you to know, and I want the record to show, that this committee is ahead of the White House.
Last year, the bill that you referred to, Colonel, H.R. 17488, 89th Congress, which this committee reported out unanimously, and passed on the floor—I don't think there were more than two dissenting voteswent over to the Senate, or, as we say, to the other side of the Capitol, and died an ignominious death.
We were told that they were going to bring it up in the closing days. For some reason or other, it never got out. I am sure if it ever got to the floor, there probably would not have been any votes against it in the other body, either.
I am delighted to note that the chairman of this committee has introduced the same bill, substantially, all over again.
But the message the President sent up, and the bills that have been introduced to implement his message, contain no aid-and-attendance allowance for widows. There is no provision for the old law pensioners that you have mentioned. They were in our bill last year.
I sincerely hope when the committee considers these matters in executive session, we will come out with substantially the same bill we reported last year.
I just want to say that you must be a close neighbor, somewhere, of one of the men that I have revered for almost my entire life, the poet laureate of your very great State, and my very near and dear friend, Archibald Ruttledge.
Mr. GERALD. Yes, sir; he has an adjoining plantation to mine.
Mr. SAYLOR. I was a student of his at Mercer Academy more years ago than I like to remember, and I am the fellow who made him break the promise he made. He said no English paper was ever worth a hundred. When I visited him down at Hampton some years ago, my