« PreviousContinue »
a supplemental request for at least $15 million be immediately enacted by the Congress in order to permit the Veterans' Administration to proceed with important hospital measures and care and treatment that had already been approved and for which the patients are ready and waiting.
I might add that dental care is one of those things.
Thousands upon thousands of veterans have been approved as service connected for dental care, and yet there are no funds with which to give this treatment, and the longer that condition continues, if and when that treatment is rendered, it will be much more expensive and complicated than it would have been at the time they were approved for treatment.
I do want to mention to this committee, because of the time element, the importance of that supplemental appropriation of not less than $15 million for the hospitals. I would like to bring that to the atten
tion of the committee.
The CHAIRMAN. We will look forward to hearing you again on the 17th.
Mr. KETCHUM. The 17th, Madam Chairman, and we will present the program of the organization, and I am sure we will have some very pertinent information on some of the questions that were discussed here this morning, in addition to many others.
The CHAIRMAN. I am sure you will.
Mr. KETCHUM. Thank you very much.
The CHAIRMAN. We are always glad to have you.
Mr. KETCHUM. Thank you for your courtesy in arranging this other meeting.
The CHAIRMAN. We will look forward to it.
Congressman Hagen is going to present the next witness.
Mr. HAGEN. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. We are very glad to have you on the committee. Mr. HAGEN. It is a privilege for me to be able to introduce the national commander of the DAV, particularly as I am a new Member of Congress. I understand that we are to be seen and not heard.
The commander of the DAV is a World War II veteran who is a personal acquaintance of mine, and it is indeed a privilege for me to be able to present him to the committee and the people assembled here.
He is peculiarly qualified, in my opinion, to give the committee sound advice with respect to veterans' legislation for the reason that he is a public official himself, serving as a member of the board of supervisors in California in carrying out a legislative and administrative function in that role.
In addition, he is in the contracting business and knows something personally about the problems of home building and home financing. I might add also, Madam Chairman, his wife is quite active in the affairs of the auxiliary of the Disabled American Veterans and is State chairman of that group.
It gives me a great deal of pleasure to introduce to you and the other members of the committee Floyd E. Ming, national commander of the DAV, Bakersfield, Calif.
The CHAIRMAN. We are delighted to have you, Mr. Commander. I had the pleasure of being in Boston when you were elected, and you have always been right on the beam. You have always worked for your disabled and you have never ceased. You cannot be diverted in any other direction.
STATEMENT OF FLOYD E. MING, NATIONAL COMMANDER OF THE DISABLED VETERANS, ACCOMPANIED BY CICERO HOGAN, DIRECTOR OF CLAIMS, AND CHARLES FOSTER, ASSISTANT LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR
Mr. MING. Thank you for those kind words, and thank you, Congressman Hagen.
Madam Chairman, ladies and gentlemen of the committee, as national commander of the Disabled American Veterans I am pleased and appreciate the distinct privilege to meet with you this morning for the purpose of presenting our legislative program. The opportunity afforded the DAV to discuss with you personally the various facets of legislation in the field of veterans' affairs is one of the most important duties I will perform during my tenure in office.
It goes without saying, of course, that this committee has always lent an intelligent, sympathetic, and understanding ear to the problems of America's wartime disabled and to the survivors of deceased veterans.
Our legislative program is determined upon and fixed by the delegates attending the national convention. During the 5 days that the delegates meet each year they consider hundreds of proposals stemming from approximately 2,000 chapters situated in every corner of our vast country. Many of these are repetitious, others are deemed impractical, and only approximately 50 resolutions calling for legislative action were finally approved. Time, of course, will not permit me to mention each of these specifically but I would like to outline generally our modest program.
It is of particular significance that the trend of our mandates this year is toward greater uniformity and equality in existing laws and regulations administered by the Veterans' Administration. In this connection I would like to emphasize the bills H. R. 43 and 44 introduced by the chairman of this committee. These bills seek greater uniformity in existing monetary benefits presently payable to serviceconnected disabled veterans and to the survivors of veterans whose death is attributable to service-connected causes.
In enacting Public Law 356 last year, which increased serviceconnected disability compensation to partially offset the advance in the cost of living, Congress created a schism. Public Law 356 provided a 15-percent increase in compensation for veterans rated 50 percent or more and a 5-percent increase for those rated less than 50 percent. In another section of the same law an increase of approximately 15 percent in death compensation was extended to widows, with the exception that widows with no children did not receive any increase. The bills H. R. 43 and 44 would further amend the Veterans Regulations by making uniform the increases in death compensation among the various classes of widows and would reestablish parity between veterans rated less than 50 percent and those rated 50 percent or more. In other words, Public Law 356 completely ignored the fact that disabilities are rated percentagewise, from 100 percent down to zero percent. The differential between the least seriously disabled and the most seriously disabled is fully recognized in adjudicating a veteran's claim for compensation. Public Law 356 imposes an additional, and in our opinion entirely unwarranted, differential in providing
a 15-percent increase for 1 group and a 5-percent increase in another. The net result is that a man presently rated 10, 20, 30, or 40 percent does not draw that percentage of total disability compensation despite the fact his disability is rated percentage wise.
We would like to see this committee take positive and expeditious action to once again bring about uniformity in the rates of disability and death compensation for service-connected causes.
Before mentioning any other specific measures I would like to invite the attention of this committee to a resolution adopted at our last national convention which reads as follows:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, by the Disabled American Veterans, assembled in Boston, Mass., this 10th-16th day of August 1952, That we go on record sponsoring only legislation that is germane to the needs of the wars' disabled and their dependents; and be it further
Resolved, That this organization take a definite stand in asking the Congress of the United States that benefits for the wars' disabled and their dependents come first.
This resolution is a reaffirmation of the policy followed by the DAV since its origin and is indicative that the membership is steadfast to the purposes for which the Congress of the United States granted us a charter. We shall never deviate from this single-purpose objective. Other measures on our legislative program pending before this committee which seek equality of treatment are contained in H. R. 462 and 630 introduced by Representatives Kearney and Teague, respectively. It has come to our attention that a number of seriously disabled World War II veterans entitled to vocational rehabilitation and training under the provisions of Public Law 16, 78th Congress, have been or shortly will be precluded from applying for such training due to long periods of hospitalization as a result of their service-connected disabilities. These bills do not seek to extend training under Public Law 16 to veterans otherwise eligible therefor who have merely "slept on their rights," but is designed solely for the veteran who has been unable to apply for such training because of hospitalization. All training under Public Law 16 must be completed not later than July 25, 1956, and the Veterans' Administration cannot enroll a veteran in a course of education or training which would run beyond that date. It certainly was not the intent of Congress to deny the benefits of Public Law 16 to any veteran who has been unable to initiate his education or training under Public Law 16 because of long periods of hospitalization. These bills would, therefore, enable such a veteran to pursue an appropriate course of training beyond the termination date, July 25, 1956.
With permission of the chairman and in order that I may have some time to discuss the current hospital situation and the various proposals for reorganization of the Veterans' Administration it is respectfully requested that I be permitted to insert in the record following the close of this statement, a supplementary statement listing DAV resolutions adopted at our last national convention, together with the appropriate bill numbers, which comprise our legislative program for this year.
The CHAIRMAN. It will be so ordered, without objection.
Mr. MING. In addition to the above, we are mandated to request the Congress to make uniform the benefits payable to disabled veterans under Public Law 877, 80th Congress, as contained in H. R. 52; to
request legislation to make policies of United States Government life insurance and national service life insurance incontestable for fraud unless asserted by the Veterans' Administration within 2 years (H. R. 1261); to request amendments to Veterans Regulations to provide a presumption of service connection for malignant tumors (H. R. 45) and tuberculosis other than pulmonary (H. R. 46); and to request legislation to prohibit the severance of a service connection which has been in effect 10 or more years (H. R. 463 and H. R. 628).
We shall oppose with all the vigor at our command any efforts to increase either administratively or by legislation the interest rates on Veterans' Administration guaranteed home or business loans.
REORGANIZATION OF THE VA
We have heard much of the survey of the Veterans' Administration made by Booz, Allen & Hamilton and have familiarized ourselves with its recommendations. Long before its release and at our national convention held in Boston, Mass., last August, we passed a resolution which certainly indicates familiarity with the fact that the Booz, Allen & Hamilton report would markedly restrict the service to the disabled veterans, tear down the present structure of the VA and all without any proof of real savings in the cost of administration. This resolution is interesting for no other reason than it shows the DAV, my organization, in convention assembled was and is alert and aware of the continued attacks against the VA and that the delegates indicated in no uncertain terms our organization's determination to fight such a program to the end. Let me read part of this resolution into the record:
DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS, 1952 CONVENTION REHABILITATION RESOLUTION 381 Whereas the extended activities of the many groups designed to reorganize the Veterans' Administration have reached the point where definite action is now contemplated. At great cost surveys have been completed, including sections of the Hoover report and the latest prepared by the firm of Booz, Allen & Hamilton; Whereas it is clear that a move is under way and action expected momentarily that will destroy the entire structure of the Veterans' Administration as we know it. This will mean that the several services will be operated separately and independently-such as the Claims Service, Medical Department, Education and Training, Loans, Insurance, etc.—all unrelated, meaning that the term "Veterans' Administration" will be abolished. The number of offices for the several services will be reduced to a fraction of the present setup. The veteran will no longer receive complete service under one department but rather must pursue multiple agencies for separate benefits;
Whereas this is a return to a similar system in operation prior to the merger creating the Veterans' Administration shortly after World War I. The new plan will prove costly and inefficient to the Government, multiply red tape and create long delays to the veteran and his dependents receiving their just benefits;
Whereas we urge that essential services involving the disabled which include medical, outpatient, and hospital, claims and administrative services remain intact: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That this convention authorize and mandate its officers to seek such legislation or to act otherwise with the hope of forestalling such reorganization and that all facts in connection with this proposed moved be made available to the entire membership by complete publication in the Semimonthly.
We think that the answer to the Booz, Allen & Hamilton report, the answer to the recommendations of the Hoover Commission, the Hoover Commission's task force, the Trundle Engineering Co., and the Citizens Committee for the Hoover Report can be found in the
reorganization plan of the Veterans' Administration as produced by the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs and his staff. We feel that this recent reorganization plan of General Gray contains much of the meritorious suggestions of all these surveys and studies and at the same time it is clear and evident that the Administrator and his staff have not lost sight of the grave importance and the magnitude of the task assigned to the Veterans' Administration by Congress and which can be recognized in one comprehensive phrase "service to America's war veterans" which can only be accomplished by proper administration of all laws benefiting veterans.
We are familiar with General Gray's reorganization plan and we are indeed pleased with his determination to retain and uphold the present general structure of the Veterans' Administration. Certainly the DAV approves his recognition of the importance of the regional offices in their present location. It is the regional office as now constituted which grants most of the benefits to the veteran and his dependents. The regional office brings the VA to the veteran. A reduction of these offices to 10 centers shorn of most of their authority would go far toward the ruination of the service and the destruction of the VA.
Why should the serviceman in uniform hear so much about the value and virtues of unification of the services only to learn on his return to civil life of the proposed disintegration of the VA into a scattered and disorganized mess-and all under the guise of economy and efficiency.
General Gray's recognition of and familiarity with the entire VA program and his identification and division of the "product lines" into their basic departments, medical, insurance, and veterans' benefits must be accepted as an effort to improve the operation and efficiency of the VA without reduction in service to the veteran and his dependents. We are sincere in our belief that his plan as submitted is superior to those plans previously submitted by professional surveys.
Certainly the Disabled American Veterans desire that General Gray's organization program be given a fair trial and the support of all groups honestly concerned in the rehabilitation of our war vetIt does not mean that we subscribe to this new reorganization plan without reservation. In fact, I can assure this committee that the DAV will continue its primary interest in the care of our wartime disabled, his widow and dependents and, as ever, reserve the right to offer fair, honest, and constructive criticism of the VA when we feel circumstances require it and where errors of omission or commission are interfering with the proper application and distribution of benfits under the law.
Before concluding I would like to state that our organization will ask the Congress for a supplemental appropriation of $15 million for the hospital and medical service of the Veterans' Administration to operate on for the balance of this fiscal year. When this bill reaches the floor of the House we will need your support.
I again wish to thank the committee for inviting me here today and I assure you that my entire staff will always be available to testify on the various matters we have just discussed.
Listed below are DAV resolutions adopted or reaffirmed at the 1952 national convention of the DAV held in Boston, Mass., August 10-16, 1952, together with the number of House bills pending before the Veterans' Affairs Committee: