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record, a veteran may come along and substantiate the fact that he is service connected and therefore he may establish his service connection. Do you really believe that is being fairly administered? Mr. Gough. I cannot refer to the actual law by name.
I know our position on service connected. I will refer to Mr. Kraabel on that; and, if I may, I would like to give you generalizations concerning our stand on that.
I would like to be more particular and specific about the particular law.
Mr. KRAABEL. I think that we should identify that law by its number and date in Congress, and then from that point I think if Mr. Stevens, our director of claims, will embellish on what is being done about it. Is it Public Law 361 of the 77th Congress?
Mr. Bonin. I am quite certain that it is. I believe that it was in 1941 in the 77th Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. For the convenience of the members I will have inserted at this point Public Law 361, 77th Congress, and pertinent VA regulations which deal with presumptive periods for chronic and tropical diseases. (The matters referred to follow :)
(PUBLIC LAW 361–77TH CONG.)
H. R. 4905
tion of service connection of injuries or diseases alleged to have been incurred in or aggravated by service in a war, campaign, or expedition
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Administrator of Veterans Affairs is hereby authorized and directed to include in the regulations pertaining to service connection of disabilities additional provisions in effect requiring that in each case where a veteran is seeking service connection for any disability due consideration shall be given to the places, types, and circumstances of his service as shown by his service record, the official history of each organization in which he served, his medical records, and all pertinent medical and lay evidence.
In the case of any veteran who engaged in combat with the enemy in active service with a military or naval organization of the United States during some war, campaign, or expedition, the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs is authorized and directed to accept as sufficient proof of service connection of any disease or injury alleged to have been incurred in or aggravated by service in such war, campaign, or expedition, satisfactory lay or other evidence of service incurrence or aggravation of such injury or disease, if consistent with the circumstances, conditions, or hardships of such service, notwithstanding the fact that there is no official record of such incurrence or aggravation in such service, and, to that end, shall resolve every reasonable doubt in favor of such veteran: Provided, That service connection of such injury or disease may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. The reasons for granting or denying service connection in each such case shall be recorded in full.
Approved December 20, 1941.
PARAGRAPH I (c), PART I, VETERANS REGULATION No. 1 (A) AS AMENDED (c) That for the purposes of paragraph I (a) hereof a chronic disease becoming manifest to a degree of 10 percent or more within 1 year from the date of separation from active service as set forth therein shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by service as specified therein notwithstanding there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of active service, provided the person suffering from such disease served 90 days or more in the active service as specified therein: Provided, however, That where there is affirmative evidence to the contrary, or evidence to establish that an intercurrent
injury or disease which is a recognized cause of such chronic disease, has been suffered between the date of discharge and the onset of the chronic disease, or the disability is due to the person's own misconduct, service connection will not be in order : Provided further, That the term “chronic disease” as used in this paragraph shall include anemia, primary'; arteriosclerosis; arthritis, bronchiectasis; calculi of the kidney, bladder, or gall bladder; cardiovascular-renal disease, including hypertension, myocarditis, Buerger's disease, and Raynaud's disease; cirrhosis of the liver; coccidiomycosis ; endocarditis; diabetes, mellitus; endocrinopathies, epilepsies; Hodgkin's disease; leukemia, nephritis; osteitis, deformans; osteomalacia ; organic diseases of the nervous system, including tumors of the brain, cord, or peripheral nerves; encephalitis lethargica residuals; scleroderma; tuberculosis, active (other than pulmonary); tumors, malignant; ulcers, peptic (gastric or duodenal), and such other chronic diseases as the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs may add to this list : Provided further, That active pulmonary tuberculosis developing a 10 percent degree of disability or more within 3 years, or multiple sclerosis developing a 10 percent degree of disability or more within 2 years from the date of separation from active service shall, in the absence of affirmative evidence to the contrary, be deemed to have been incurred in or aggravated by active service: And provided further, That, subject to the limitations of this subparagraph, tropical diseases, such as cholera; dysentery; filariasis; leishmaniasis; leprosy ; loiasis; malaria ; blackwater fever; onchocerciasis; oroya fever; dracontiasis; pinta ; plague; shistosomiasis ; yaws; yellow fever, and others and the resultant disorders or diseases originating because of therapy administered in connection with such diseases, or as a preventative thereof, shall be accorded service connection when shown to exist within 1 year after separation from active service or at a time when standard and accepted treatises indicate that the incubation period thereof commenced during active service. Nothing in this paragraph shall be construed to prevent service connection for any disease or disorder otherwise shown by sound judgment to have been incurred in or aggravated by active service.
Mr. STEVENS. Mr. Bonin, the Veterans' Administration for a long time has had a very definite regulatory requirement that the benefit of the doubt be resolved in determining whether or not there was an entitlement to service connection in favor of the veteran. Before this became a law, it was already in instruction promulgated by the Administrator of Veterans Affairs. We not too infrequently find, unfortunately, that many of the rating boards fail to give due credence to the very positive instruction that was issued administratively and that is now in the law. But we take the individual case and battle it out; and in the long run, properly represented, we find not too much difficulty in finding a full resolution of the doubt. I will say that, Mr. Bonin.
Mr. Bonin. The reason I asked that question is because I have received numerous communications from veterans who apparently feel that it is not being properly administered.
Mr. STEVENS. The individual case, on occasion, must finally resolve itself through appellate channels before full operation of that law is resolved. There is no question of that.
Mr. Bonin. The ultimate authority on that is the Board of Veterans' Appeals; is that not right?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes. An appeal is taken to the Administrator, and that Board makes its determination. Sometimes we disagree with the Board of Veterans' Appeals decisions, and we go back and ask for a reconsideration, and not infrequently we get satisfaction on the further study by that Board, based upon representations which we make.
Mr. KRAABEL. I might add that the type of case that comes to an office such as the rehabilitation staff here is the very toughest case, and these gentlemen who are here, Dr. Shapiro and Mr. Stevens, and their associates have been instrumental in having several of these cases reconsidered time and time again, pointing out what they felt professionally was the defect in the decision before, or the defect in the makeup of the claim before, and they have had a very outstanding record on reversals of the original decisions which were against the veteran.
I think our record will be borne out very substantially on that point. There are, however, still those cases that cannot be resolved satisfactorily to the claimant, and under the present laws we have exhausted every possibility in their behalf.
The CHAIRMAN. At a later date I think we will ask the staff of the American Legion to come before us and discuss all of the operations of the legislation. I think it would be fine if they would come.
Mr. Gough. May I just make this statement since the service- and non-service-connected cases have been mentioned ?
It is not entirely in line with your question, sir, but I would like to call to the attention of the members of this committee an article and I do not say this with pride of authorship-prepared for the American Legion magazine, which you all receive--and it is in the current issue-relative to who is being treated in our veteran hospitals. It gives an analysis from the basis of the 1950 and 1951 very comprehensive surveys of the problem of the service- versus non-service-connected cases, bearing out that there are between 7 and 8 percent only who are in the nonservice classification, short term, for treatment in veterans' hospitals. It is a factual article as near as can be made upon the basis of the survey, and I would like to call that to your particular attention.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Commander, I would like to say that it will be in the Congressional Record of Thursday, February 12. It is an excellent article. It is also in the record of the last hearings. Mr. BONIN. It is a very commendable article, Madam Chair
I have had the privilege of reading it. I do say that it is very enlightening
Mr. Gough. I am flattered, indeed. I hope that this is in the record.
The CHAIRMAN. It most certainly is. By chance, if any part of it is left out, when you correct the record you may include it. We have copies of the magazine in the outer lobby, if you would like them. So many cases can be service connected after the men are hospitalized. Particularly is that true in the case of tuberculosis and neuropsychiatric cases.
Mr. Ayres. You have not gone into what your position is going to be on the GI housing program; and, since our most able chairman has appointed that committee and I find myself chairman of it, I wonder if you would care to comment briefly on it.
Mr. GOUGH. I would be delighted to.
We have a long-range program of intensive investigation concerning the interest rates, and our position has been stated in previous conventions prior to the last one in New York, and it has been to hold the line at 4 percent.
In New York there are many factors presented on both sides, and the convention mandated me as commander to appoint a three-man committee to make a thorough investigation of this. It is a continuing investigation.
It had been started, but we made it specific following the New York convention. That committee was appointed immediately.
I asked to have the report on it in our executive committee meeting in the fall, but the date of the fall meeting was moved up and the chairman—advisedly, I think-said they wanted more time, particularly to see the trend of interest rates at the first of the year with the new administration. That particular committee is meeting on February 17 with experts on both sides—lending agencies, banks, and so forth, and representatives for the other side to determine either to raise or hold the interest rates, and I will have the benefit of the recommendations of that committee before the executive committee of the Legion in April or May, and at that time I assume there will be a position stated. At the present time I have no position other than past thinking to guide me.
The past thinking has been to hold; and I cannot, of course, assume at this point what the recommendations of the committee will be, but we have not deviated as yet from holding.
There are individual departments that are making recommendations to hold at 4 percent.
Now, that is in the formulative process. The national commander does not formulate policies. My own thinking would have nothing to do with this. I have to wait now until the committee reports and until the executive committee or the convention takes action. At that time the national commander has a policy to guide him. I have nothing to guide me now except past thinking.
Mr. AYRES. Has there been any comment regarding those areas where 4-percent money has not been available, and if 4-percent money is not available there will be a change in the direct-loan operation of the Veterans Administration?
Mr. Gough. There has been comment along that line, and I will be very happy to make the findings of our committee available to you just as soon as we have them, because they are getting a good deal of information along that line, and along other lines, from both sides.
Mr. AYRES. The only reason for moving fast on it, Mr. Commander, since you apparently do not come from a Northern State, is that our building programs are planned in the late winter or early spring, and whatever the program is going to be, the builders throughout the northeastern part of the country and northewestern part—wherever the building season is limited to 6 or 8 months of the year—are going to want to know very soon what plans to make and whether or not the GI is going to be able to buy the home.
Now, in your judgment, just passing on this in your own opinion, do you feel anything constructive would be accomplished if our committee were to go into certain areas and listen to some of the complaints of the GI direct? I know all of us have our files filled with letters from returned veterans who say, “Yes; it is fine to have a GI building program, but where can I get a loan?"
Mr. Gough. I think that that would be a very constructive moveto get out in the field. That is what I asked Mr. Tom Moses, who is chairman of my committee, to do—to try to get the feeling of the veterans in various segments of the country in order to get an overall picture to guide us. I think that is an excellent thought.
Mr. AYRES. I think we will get the cooperation of our chairman on that, and I will discuss it with her at an early date.
The CHAIRMAN. We also have to get some money from the rules committee and an authorization from the rules committee in order to have that investigation. Perhaps you will help us with that.
Mr. Gough. Yes, I should say.
The CHAIRMAN. I think that is one of the departments of the Veterans' Administration that we have to watch very carefully because I think other departments have designs on that, the same as they have on insurance. I think that our first fight is to see that we hold the line.
You have made a fine statement. Perhaps when you are in Washington you will come before us again.
Mr. Gough. It has been a pleasure indeed. I thank you for the privilege.
The CHAIRMAN. The Veterans of Foreign Wars cannot be with us today, but the commander is going to appear at a later date. Mr. Omar Ketchum, the legislative counsel for many years of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, has a brief statement to make.
We are delighted to have you with us, as always, Mr. Ketchum.
STATEMENT OF OMAR KETCHUM, LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL FOR THE
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS
Mr. KETCHUM. Thank you. I have come here this morning not to present the program of the organization, but to explain that due to firm commitments of a nature which he could not break, our national commander could not be here this morning.
When the date of this meeting was first considered it was necessary to point out that our commander could not be here on the 10th—and I think the committee clerk will verify that—but some of the other commanders could be here, and it was agreed then that the date of the 10th would be the date, inasmuch as our national conference, the conference of national officers and department commanders is being held here this weekend and the first of next week, a happy compromise was decided upon whereby our national commander, along with all our national officers and our department officers, would appear here next Tuesday morning.
The chairman has graciously agreed to receive our commander and our national department officers next Tuesday morning. We hope that the committee members will be able to be present, and I am sure that we will have some interesting statistics and information to supply to the committe.
There is only one thing that I would like to say, and because time is of the essence, the supplemental appropriation submitted by the Veterans Administration, in our opinion, does not carry a request for sufficient funds to correct a deplorable situation in hospitalization because of inadequate funds appropriated for the current fiscal year. As a result of that our organization, and I am sure the other organizations at least there was an agreement made yesterday-would state to this committee that there was urgent necessity for a special supplemental appropriation of not less than $15 million to go to the Medical Division of the Veterans Administration to take up the inadequacy that developed by reason of insufficient funds that were appropriated in the last Congress.
I think you will recall there was approximately $31 million reduced from our budget for hospitalization, so it is important, we think, that