« PreviousContinue »
Mr. KETCHUM. Either they fumbled the ball or the committee did. not give them enough money.
Mr. TEAGUE. It is one or the other.
Mr. KETCHUM. That is right.
Mr. TEAGUE. Have any of your people made any attempt to investigate this?
Mr. KETCHUM. The Rehabilitation Service I think has gone into it. That is not in my sphere.
Mr. TEAGUE. I do not want to put you on the spot, but would you mind telling this committee, Which do you think is the right thing to do?
Mr. IJAMS. It is my honest opinion that the Appropriations Committee failed to appropriate a sufficient amount of money to allow the Veterans' Administration to give all the services particularly to the service-connected cases that they were entitled to receive. The outpatient-care program had to be abandoned to some extent. As to the matter of dental treatment, I have received more complaints about the failure of the Veterans' Administration to provide dental care for veterans who have just come back from Korea, than any other one item and inpatient care has been curtailed because of the closing of wards which Admiral Boone said was made necessary by the failure of Congress to appropriate a sufficient amount of money.
The terrible thing about it is that we all say that service-connected cases must be given first priority on everything, but when this action was taken by the Congress in cutting back the appropriation, the damage fell on the service-connected cases.
Mr. KETCHUM. Undoubtedly, there could have been, Mr. Teague, some maladministration, let us say, in the Veterans' Administration. We are not saying that they have no responsibility whatever for this. There might have been a lack of good management on their part. But the cold fact remains that due to inadequate appropriations, this situation has come about, or it has been created because of maladministration in the VA. But, in our opinion, it has got to be corrected. I think it is tragic. That is why we recommend that for the balance of this fiscal year a supplemental deficiency appropriation of $15 million be made directly for the medical program to restore the lost beds and the lost services, and the outpatient treatment.
Mr. HAGEN. May I ask Mr. Teague a question? This could be amended on the floor of the House, when it considers the supplemental appropriation bill?
Mr. TEAGUE. Yes.
Mr. KETCHUM. That is right. That may be our only chance. Mr. HAGEN. Do you have any statistics by States on this problem? Mr. KETCHUM. We do not have them here at the moment. I do not know whether we could get them quickly or not.
Mr. IJAMS. We have some field directors' reports; reports of field directors who are here, which I will be glad to make available. But I have not had an opportunity in the last few days to analyze anything.
Mr. TEAGUE. I believe that the question of hospitalization should be reconsidered by the Congress. It does not seem right to me to try to govern that merely by appropriations; that is, to curtail the number of beds available by appropriation. I do not know whether that is the right way to get at it. Perhaps we ought to spell out very carefully how a veteran may get into a hospital. Perhaps that ought to
be done by Congress; I do not know. But I do not think it is the right thing to do merely to cut the appropriation so that they cannot staff the beds that are available. The Congress ought to say how they are going to be used and whether they are going to be used, and by whom. It seems to me it should not be a matter merely of appropriating a certain amount of money for a certain amount of beds.
Mr. KETCHUM. In other words, not to use a left-handed method of trying to drive out the non-service-connected cases, by making inadequate appropriations.
Mr. TEAGUE. That is exactly right.
Mr. KETCHUM. If they want to cut them out, they ought to do so frankly and in a forthright way.
Mr. TEAGUE. That is correct.
Mr. IJAMS. I would like to make one observation, if I may. If, for any reason, Congress determines upon a policy that non-service-connected cases, no matter how serious, cannot get into a Veterans' Administration hospital, then I think you had better alert every governor of every State in the Union to start building,
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; the situation is very serious now in Michigan and in other States. I would like to say this to those of you who are present. I do not know how many of you know it, but there are 50 members of the Appropriations Committee. Out of a total of 435 Members of the House, 50 Members are on the Appropriations Committee. Our great danger is that we legislate through the Appropriations Committee. They are legislating instead of merely appropriating. They have a very large staff of investigators who go out and make investigations and then come back and report on what they find, and what they think ought to be done. But I maintain that the Committee on Veterans' Affairs is the committee that was created to take care of the veterans and that they ought to do the investigating and make the reports to Congress as to what the needs are. Other committees, too, have expressed themselves as being jealous of their jurisdiction and of the tendency of the Appropriations Committee to legislate in their field.
Mr. KETCHUM. That is why we stressed this problem of cost, because I believe that is what this committee will be confronted with no matter what you do. No matter how sympathetic you may be, and no matter how many of the facts you have before your committee, the question is going to come up continually about what these things are going to cost. Whatever you bring before the House leadership, in the way of legislation, they are going to ask how much it is going to cost and then they are going to say that "We can only afford to spend so much money."
That is what we are up against. I believe that what you are saying is fundamentally true that the Appropriations Committee to a large extent, because of the element of cost that is involved, is legislating for the other committees.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; and now that the wars are over, and the Korean war is on, some people seem to want to forget and seem not to want to pay for the care of veterans. At least, some people do. I was at a reception for Mrs. Eisenhower yesterday afternoon at the Congressional Club and a great many people talked to me about taking care of the Korean veterans. I believe that the public is interested, but they are not sufficiently alerted to the problem.
Mr. IJAMS. It has been my experience that the families in this country who have boys are becoming quite exercised, for this reason. One boy comes back from Korea with a disability and there is no place for him to go and they have another boy who is about to be drafted. How do you think that family feels about that second boy going?
Mr. TEAGUE. Colonel, do you really believe that statement?
Mr. IJAMS. Yes; I do.
Mr. TEAGUE. Do you mean that a service-connected case cannot get into a hospital?
Mr. IJAMS. We have many service-connected cases that are not in the hospitals. I had two psychiatric cases within the last month, one of them out at Rockville, Md., a 40-percent service-connected case for an NP disability. He blew up mentally and attacked his wife. We immediately called the police, which was the only protection that she could get and they took him down to the police station where they could hold him only 24 hours.
They contacted our office in Washington, the regional office. I attempted to get a bed for this service-connected case and they said, "We are awfully sorry, but we cannot put that man in a hospital right now." That man was turned over to a Maryland State institution, a very inferior place. I am sorry to say that, as a Marylander, but the same thing is true in nearly every State of the Union. They kept that boy for 21 days before we could get him into Perry Point.
We had another case over here in Arlington. That man was 70 percent NP service-connected. He attacked his family. They called the police and the police kept him in the lock-up for 12 days-a serviceconnected case--before we could get him to the hospital.
When Senator Pepper was holding hearings on that cutback away back in 1948-he was the chairman of the subcommittee-he wired to Florida and he testified himself that there were 36 Florida veterans in police stations and jails, put there for the protection of themselves and the public, who were service-connected but whom they could not get into a veterans hospital.
Mr. TEAGUE. What about cases other than psychiatric and TB cases? Do you have any trouble with those?
Mr. IJAMS. We have had trouble, and I wish you could see some of the pitiful cases that we get, if you could see these youngsters who come into my office-last Christmas a year ago I had two cases, which I would like to mention briefly. The department commander of one of our departments phoned me from Maryland and told me that this boy had been a guard in a penal institution in Maryland. They gave him a periodic chest examination and discovered that he had advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. This boy was not serviceconnected at that time but we have since established service connection. I wanted to get the boy into the hospital. I called the boy on the phone he was at home; he had been discharged from his position because he was endangering the lives of the inmates of this institution. I called him on the phone and asked him what he had done. He said he had been to the Washington regional office and they were very sympathetic, but they said that they could not find a bed anywhere especially for a non-service-connected case.
He said that he had then gotten his wife to drive him up to Martinsburg, W. Va., because he knew that there was a big hospital up there
and he thought that if they saw him and saw how sick he was that they would take him in. They were sympathetic, too, but they said that they had a waiting list of 170 ahead of him and asked him if he wanted to get on the waiting list. He asked them how long that would be and they said that it might be 2 or 3 years. So he did not go on the waiting list and, incidentally, that is the reason why those waiting lists have no value whatever, because a great many men do not get on them.
The boy came over, rested up for a few days and then got his wife and drove down to the Vaughan Hospital in Richmond but found there that they had a waiting list, too, so he came back and went to bed. I asked him, "Have you anybody to wait on you, to look after you?" And he said, "Yes, my wife and two little children."
I said to him, "You have two little children and you have never been to a hospital and never have been told how to avoid infecting your own family?" And he said, "That is right."
So I said to him, "You get to bed and stay there, get a good nurse and you quit worrying about anything and let me do the worrying.' That very afternoon another man came in, also a young veteran of World War II, who had a young wife and two small children. He was in the same predicament exactly.
It took me weeks to get those boys into a hospital and I was successful only then because the manager of this hospital happened to be an old friend of mine and knew of my interest in these cases. But, of course, getting those two in probably meant that there were two others, perhaps equally deserving, who could not get in.
The CHAIRMAN. I have had letters from two families of boys who were reported missing in Korea, but they told me that they were not willing to talk about it to anybody. They were very bitter and unhappy.
Mr. KETCHUM. Madam Chairman, before you conclude this hearing, I would like to offer for the record a detailed digest of our entire program which was adopted at our last national convention.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it may be made a part of the record.
(The matter referred to is as follows:)
1952-53 LEGISLATIVE OBJECTIVES OF THE VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES, SUBJECT TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
The following legislative objectives are based on resolutions adopted by the 1952 National Encampment of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, and recommendations of the VFW national legislative committee.
COMPENSATION, PENSION, MISCELLANEOUS VETERANS BENEFITS RESOLUTIONS
1. Seeking legislation to establish a new service-connected disability payment schedule based on $187.50 for total disability ($168.75 for 90 percent; $150 for 80 percent; $131.25 for 70 percent; $112.50 for 60 percent; $93.75 for 50 percent; $75 for 40 percent; $56.25 for 30 percent; $37.50 for 20 percent; and $18.75 for 10 percent); and a corresponding increase in statutory awards and dependency allowances (Res. 132).
2. Seeking legislation to increase rates of service-connected death compensation payable to widows and children, as follows: widow 'but no child, $100; widow with 1 child, $140 (with $34 for each additional child); no widow but 1 child, $78; no widow but 2 children, $110 (equally divided); no widow but three children, $142 (equally divided) with $27 for each additional child (total amount to be
equally divided); dependent mother or father, $75 (for both), $44 each (Res. 132).
3. Seeking legislation to provide that any combination involving the loss or loss of use of any two members or the loss or loss of use of a hand or foot together with loss or loss of use of an eye shall be rated the same as subparagraph (M) of Public Law 182 (Res. 257).
4. Seeking legislation to grant 3-year presumptive period in cases of diseases of the central nervous system and psychosis (Res. 180).
5. Seeking legislation to provide that any physical disability, including dental disabilities, or any neuropsychiatric or psychiatric disabilites having been found within 5 years from date of discharge shall be presumed to have been incurred in service unless rebutted by affirmative evidence of prior existence where it is shown that claimant was at any time held prisoner by an enemy nation during military service in a period of war (Res. 262).
6. Seeking legislation to grant compensation and out-patient treatment to all veterans with service-connected clinical proven cases of chronic malaria (Res. 94).
7. Seeking legislation to grant dependency allowances when the veteran has 40 percent service-connected disability (Res. 132).
8. Proposing to the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs that the 10 percent requirement of section 6, Public Law 483, 78th Congress, be deemed to have been met in the case of any honorably discharged veteran who engaged in combat with an enemy of the United States, certification thereof to be made by the Department of the Armed Forces with which the veteran served (Res. 276). 9. Seeking legislation to provide a uniform pension based on age (Res. 363). 10. Seeking legislation to grant to veterans of World Wars I and II, and of service on and after June 27, 1950, service pensions on the same basis and in the same amount as pension is granted to Spanish-American War veterans (Res. 132).
11. Seeking legislation to provide, in effect, that notwithstanding the cause or nature of disease causing permanent and total disability any war veteran who has had honorable service in the Armed Forces of the United States shall be exempt from the so-called misconduct clauses of the basic laws (Res. 69).
12. Seeking retroactive payment of pension in non-service-connected cases to date of proof of disability or entrance into the hospital (Reş. 184).
13. Seeking legislation to grant pension benefits for non-service-connected disability to persons who served with the United States military forces on the Mexican border between May 9, 1916, and April 6, 1917 (Res. 226).
14. Seeking legislation to grant pension benefits for non-service-connected disability to persons who served with the United States occupation forces in Germany during World War I (Res. 226).
15. Seeking legislation to grant Spanish-American War pension benefits to persons who served with the United States Armed Forces in the Moro Province, or in Samar and Leyte between July 4, 1902, and January 1, 1914 (Res. 226). 16. Seeking legislation to increase rates of pension payable to certain dependents of World Wars I and II, and of service on or after June 27, 1950, as follows: widow but no child, $60; widow and 1 child, $75 (with $8.50 for each additional child); no widow but 1 child, $30; no widow but two children, $45 (equally divided); no widow but 3 children, $60 (equally divided), with $7.50 for each additional child (the total to be equally divided) (Res. 132).
17. Seeking legislation to increase income limitations applicable to nonservice-connected disability and death pension cases from $1,000 to $2,000 for a veteran without dependents, a widow without children, or a child; and from $2,500 to $3,200 for a widow with children or a veteran with dependents. Income from Government insurance and/or commercial insurance up to $10,000 shall not be included in computation of annual income (Res. 132).
18. Seeking legislation to authorize pensions for widows and children of certain deceased World War II veterans and veterans of service on and after June 27, 1950, on the same basis as pensions are authorized for widows and children of World War I veterans (Res. 132).
19. Seeking amendment to section 3, Public Law 483, 78th Congress, so as to read, "The term 'widow' of a World War I veteran shall mean a woman who was married on or before December 14, 1947, or the effective date of the amending act, or for 10 years preceding death" (Res. 189).
20. Urging 2-year extension to World War II veterans of right to apply for education and traning under Public Law 346, 78th Congress (Res. 226).