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STATEMENT OF HON. BARRATT O'HARA, A REPRESENTATIVE IN

CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

Mr. O'HARA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

It was a great delight to be with you when they dedicated the monument, and I might say that I never heard a more eloquent address than you made. You were rightly named after one of the great orators in the history of America, and I am not sure, Commander, that he is not better than William Jennings Bryan.

Mr. Chairman, Sam Hutchinson is the past commander in chief of the United Spanish War Veterans. He has given his life to the cause of our Spanish War veterans and their widows.

And our adjutant general, here, is one of our youngest members.
General, you are only about 86, going on 87, I believe.
He is our beloved adjutant general.

And I might say, Mr. Chairman, that I made a pledge that we are never going to have any other adjutant general to succeed him. We have elected him for life.

Mr. McELROY. Thank you.
Mr. O'HARA. And where is Mrs. Cone?

One of the greatnesses of our group, you know, is these marvelous women. All our life, I have been in love with our auxiliary, going back a good many years.

And, Mrs. Cone, you do a tremendous job, and I know you are going to present the cause of the widows eloquently, here.

Mrs. CONE. I hope so.

Mr. O'HARA. Mr. Chairman, I am for veterans. We pay billions of dollars' interest on dollars, money that we need in wartimes, and we continue paying interest on it, and nobody shouts, “Fiscal irresponsibility,” and we have never done enough for our war veterans. And I am very proud, General, of this committee.

The Veterans' Committee of the House has always been on the battlefront for veterans, getting them not what they are entitled to, but approximating it, because we can never pay adequately our veterans.

But, Mr. Chairman, I am going to confine my remarks to one little group, our Spanish War widows.

There are only a handful of them. There will not be very many next year. There are not very many now.

They have been getting a pittance of $65 a month, and with most of them, that is all they have had to live on. It has been a tragic struggle. And now this bill would raise it to $70.

Five dollars is not very much, but with these women, it means so much. It may mean a little medicine when they need it to keep their life going. It may mean a little food.

And I do hope I know that this subcommittee and this committee will recommend this, as you have in the past, but I do hope that this year it passes both in the other body and in our body of the House.

And now, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for the privilege of being here.' I have got some people waiting for me in my office, so I have to return.

I am going to leave the argument of the Spanish War veterans in very good hands, our adjutant general, and this marvelous woman over here.

Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. O'Hara.

We are grateful to you for coming. You are always welcome before this committee.

Thanks for presenting these remarks to us.

Mr. Dorn. Mr. McElroy, do you have any statement? STATEMENTS OF JAMES H. McELROY, NATIONAL ADJUTANT,

UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS; S. C. HUTCHINSON, PAST
COMMANDER IN CHIEF; AND MRS. MARY V. CONE, LIAISON
OFFICER, UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS AUXILIARY
Mr. McElroy. Thank you, Congressman Dorn.
I would like to introduce Mary Cone.

She is the mother of Justice John Cone of the New York Supreme Court, and she is the liaison officer between the auxiliary and the parent organization.

We also have an old warrior from Virginia, here, Sam Hutchinson.
Mr. Dorn, you met him at the dedication of our monument.
Mr. Dorn. Yes, sir.

Mr. McElroy. And by the way, we thank you again for the wonderful speech you made over there that day.

I came over with the intent of touching on that widows' pension bill, but I think Mrs. Cone has a statement that she would like to read.

Mrs. CONE. We thank you.

We were very disappointed with the action of the Senate in September. We have worked very hard, and have worked for several years to have the widows' pension bill

I have been a member of this organization for 52 years this coming April 15, and I have served on behalf of all of our bills pertaining to the veterans' pensions and the widows'.

And, well, we got in touch with the Senators, and we did everything possible, but it just was not to be.

Now, I pray and hope that you men who were so nice to us at the hearing last July will see to it that we get a little recognition, before it is too late, for our women.

Most of them are over 80, and they have a very hard time to try to live, with the high cost of living today, with the doctors' bills, and medicine, food, and clothing:

Talking about rent, that is almost out of the question.

But I am sure, and I feel sure, that this time you will grant us this little $5 with the $50 for aid or assistance. We would be very pleased to have that.

This is a letter that was sent on February 28, 1967:
Hon. OLIN E. TEAGUE,
Chairman, Veterans' Affairs Committee, House of Representatives,
Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN TEAGUE: H.R. 2068 referred to your distinguished Committee to amend Title 38 of the United States Code to increase the rates of pension to certain veterans and their widows and to provide additional readjustment assistance for veterans of service after January 31, 1955, contains

passed.

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two Sections (Sections 105 and 544) of tremendous importance to widows of United Spanish War veterans. The Bill does not provide increase in the rates of pension payable to United Spanish War veterans.

The said plight of our widows was called to the attention of the subcommittee on Compensation and Pension by officials of our Organization at a hearing on July 20, 1966. Our testimony appears on pages 4524 to 4531 of the printed hearings.

President Johnson in his commendable message to the Congress on January 31, on veterans benefits submitted six major proposals. One proposal “to increase by 5.4 percent the pensions now received by 1.4 million disabled veterans, widows and dependents” would be of benefit to our aged veterans and our aged widows.

Please let me stress that very few of our comrades and very few of our widows are receiving Social Security benefits. The average age of our veterans is 88 years. The modest increase added to the $70 monthly rate provided by H.R. 2068 would be greatly appreciated by these aged and infirm widows, practically all of them in dire circumstances.

I can assure the Committee that if the VA sent a questionnaire to these aged widows, you would find very few whose income or corpus would be a bar if the current pension system applied to them.

While our comrades are eligible for pension under the current pension system, which would entitle those who are in need of regular aid and attendance to $100 a month in addition to the rates provided by Public 211, a single veteran of World War I, Would War II and the Korean conflict whose income does not exceed $600 per year would receive $200 per month ; however, under the service pension system, our single comrade receives $135.45 monthly.

Our comrades, because of their age, et cetera, are confused and do not understand the provisions of the current pension system, the annual questionnaire form, et cetera, so they reman under the service pension system which provided $101.59 or $135.45 per month.

I can assure you that very few of our group have an income of $600 per year, so you can readily see that President Johnson's proposal cited above would benefit our aged comrades.

We plead with you, Mr. Chairman, and your distinguished committee, to increase the rates of pension to this group of veterans, all of whom were volunteers, and their aged widows.

And I might say I heard Congressman Saylor say today about the boys in service now at 19 and 20, and you know, those were the ages of our boys when they went in, in 1898, 19 and 20.

Their mothers were raising families. They were not career women. Therefore, they had no social security, and at that day, and long after, there was no social security for their husbands who went to work.

So, you see, our widows and our veterans are in a plight.

And God bless you, each and every one, if you try to do something for them.

I thank you so much.

This letter was signed, “Sincerely, James H. McElroy, Adjutant General.”

Mr. Dorn. Thank you Mrs. Cone, without objection the full text of the letter of February 28 will be included at this point in the record.

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS,
UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS,

Washington, D.C., February 28, 1967.
Hon. OLIN E. TEAGUE,
Chairman, Veterans Affairs Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.

DEAR CONGRESSMAN TEAGUE: H.R. 2068 referred to your distinguished Committee to amend Title 38 of the United States Code to increase the rates of pension to certain veterans and their widows and to provide additional readjustment assistance for veterans of service after January 31, 1955, contains two

Sections (Sections 105 & 544) of tremendous importance to widows of United Spanish War veterans. The Bill does not provide increase in the rates of pension payable to United Spanish War Veterans.

The sad plight of our widows was called to the attention of the subcommittee on Compensation and Pension by officials of our Organization at a hearing on July 20, 1966. Our testimony appears on pages 4524 to 4531 of the printed hearings.

President Johnson in his commendable message to the Congress on January 31, on veterans benefits submitted six major proposals. One proposal “to increase by 5.4 per cent the pensions now received by 1.4 million disabled veterans, widows and dependents” would be of benefit to our aged veterans and our aged widows. Please let me stress that very few of our comrades and very few of our widows are receiving Social Security benefits. The average age of our veterans is 88 years. The modest increase added to the $70.00 monthly rate provided by H.R. 2068 would be greatly appreciated by these aged and infirm widows practically all of them in dire circumstances, I can assure the Committee that the VA sent a questionnaire to these aged widows you would find very few whose income or corpus would be a bar if the current pension system applied to them.

While our comrades are eligible for pension under the current pension system which would entitle those who are in need of regular aid and attendance to $100. a month in addition to the rates provided by Public 211, a single veteran of World War I, World War II and the Korean conflict whose income does not exceed $600. per year would receive $200 per month; however, under the service pension system our single comrade receives $135.45 monthly. Our comrades because of their age etc., are confused and do not understand the provisions of the current pension system, the annual questionnaire form etc., so they remain under the service pension system which provides $101.59 or $135.45 per month. I can assure you that very few of our group have an income of $600. per year, so you can readily see that President Johnson's proposal cited above would benefit our aged comrades.

We plead with you Mr. Chairman and your distinguished Committee to increase the rates of pension to this group of veterans, all of whom were volunteers, and their aged widows. With assurances of our highest esteem and with warm regards, I remain, Sincerely

JAMES H. McELROY,

Adjutant General. Mr. DORN. Mr. Hutchinson, I remember that you also appeared before the subcommittee last year when we conducted hearings on pension bills. Would you wish to add anything at this time?

Mr. HUTCHINSON. Last year, when I was before this distinguished committee, I plead for the increase.

Some of our widows were getting $75, those that had been married before 1898, and those after 1899 received $60. So I thought that was an inequality.

At that time I asked for the pension to be increased to $80.

I want to thank this committee for getting it through the House. It got killed in the Senate, for reasons of closing down to get home for election, so that is what I plead for, for our widows.

The men can knock around, can go and get a bag of peanuts in the middle of the day, take some water, and fill up, but the widows are all, practically, past the age of 80.

As I stated last year, there may be some fools like Frank Sinatra, who marry young widows, and they go around the country now, but there are very few of them. Almost all of our widows are in the neighborhood of 80 and past.

And I certainly plead for this committee, and I am quite certain that the committee is willing—I feel that way-I feet it in my heart

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and I hope when it comes up on the floor of the House, it will pass with flying colors, like it did last year, and I hope the same thing will be done in the Senate.

I certainly feel assured that this committee will give us the same consideration they did last year, and pass this little bill, with the increase to the widows. And a little would help most of the veterans, but I am especially looking after the widows.

I had a case 3 weeks ago. The house is owned by an ex-clergyman. He rented out rooms. This widow was paying $10 a month for a room. He raised it to $20, and she missed the first month's payment, and he wanted to put her out.

She had a friend who knew me, and he called me up. I went down to see him. I asked him, “Aren't you a retired minister?"

“Yes.”
I said, “What does the Bible teach for you

to do?" And he commenced to look at me and squirmed around a little, and I laid it on right heavy, and finally, he says, “Well, what do you want me to do?"

I said, “Well, instead of raising it to $20, I would like you to cut it down to $8 a month."

He says, “Well, I can't do that. It costs me that much to keep up taxes and repairs. But," he says, "as long as she lives, she can have the room for $10."

So I thanked him and left.

But that is my plea for this committee, and I feel in my heart they will pass this bill, giving the widows the increase.

And I thank you.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Commander.

Mr. McElroy. Mr. Chairman, I came prepared to talk on the widows' pension bill, but as the case has been covered so good by Mr. O'Hara and Mrs. Cone and Mr. Hutchinson, I would like to take 2 minutes to tell you how our organization feels about this closing of Arlington Cemetery to the Spanish War veterans.

Mr. DORN. All right, sir.

Mr. McElroy. Before I get going on it, you have one plot over there of an acre and a half. I am no surveyor or anything like that, but there is one grave. That is a Spanish War veteran. That is Lieutenant Pershing--it was "Lieutenant” Pershing in our day. He is a Spanish War Veteran. There is a lot of room for Spanish War veterans over there.

The Army has been talking for 2 days to make an extension to the south post of the fort, over there. Why don't they get going? They have engineers, draftsmen, all the equipment, and they have the land.

And I believe they need a shaking up. I hope they get it.

Some few years ago, they tried to take over the Veterans' Day observance on November the 11th at Arlington, but in the committee meeting, I will say we shut them off.

That is pretty good. They wanted to handle this from the cradle to the grave, but they need waking up, and I hope the newspapers get after them.

Mr. DORN. Thank you.

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