Page images
PDF
EPUB

became infected with malaria, yellow fever, typhoid, and such diseases as that. In fact, the doctors used Spanish War veterans as guinea pigs in their studies of those diseases at that time.

We are claiming that some of our men are still suffering from the effects of those diseases. As far as proving that as service connected, we cannot do it. Neither can the Government disprove it, for the simple reason that no proper records were kept at that time. Those of us who went to the Philippines immediately came into direct contact with smallpox, cholera, and even leprosy. We used to see lepers and people with smallpox walking around on the streets. Our first job in Manila was to get these people isolated. Most of our veterans have reached an advanced age. They are far removed from hospitals. When they suffer illness, their conditions are critical, and few can be admitted to VA hospitals; they cannot even reach them. Our legislative chairman, Judge Matthias, will present our case at your convenience, and we do ask for your earnest consideration of this bill.

In closing, I wish to say that we are favoring a bill—S. 36, I believe it is to have a Veterans' Committee in the Senate. We have also approved H. R. 380, which is to correct the service records of a few naval veterans. And, while we have no mandate to that effect, we are going to back up and approve in every way we can H. R. 23, which I believe has to do with converting the Veterans’ Administration into a department of the Government with a director of Cabinet status. That is something that I believe would be a very, very fine thing as far as veterans are concerned.

We, being the older veterans of the country at an average approaching 80, we are not going to worry you very much longer. At the present time there are some 76,000 Spanish War veterans alive. They are dying at the rate of about 7,000 a year, so any benefits you vote for us will not cost very much.

Now I have one further statement, and then I will be finished. I would like to say this—that the United Spanish War Veterans maintain a headquarters here in Washington; and, if at any time any of you wish us to do anything for you, or if you wish any information, we would appreciate it very, very much if you would call upon us.

Thank you very much.

The CHAIRMAN. You have always been very, very cooperative, and we are delighted to hear you, and if you are going to be here we will call on you again, and I think Judge Mack will be calling on you, too. I will insert at this point the two bills to which you made reference.

[H. R. 2573, 83d Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To provide greater security for veterans of the Spanish-American War, including

the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippine Insurrection, in the granting of emergency hospital care by the Veterans' Administration

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Public, Numbered 62, Seventysixth Congress, approved May 3, 1939, as amended by the Act of September 19, 1950, Public Law 791, Eighty-first Congress, is hereby amended by changing the proviso to read as follows: "Provided, That veterans of the Spanish-American War, including the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippine Insurrection, who are in need of outpatient treatment, shall, upon application for such outpatient treatment by the Veterans' Administration, be deemed, for the purposes of such outpatient treatment, or for emergency hospital care incident to such treatment, to have incurred their diseases or disabilities as a direct result of military or naval service, in line of duty, during such war.”

[H. R. 2574, 83d Cong., 1st sess.) A BILL To increase the monthly rates of pension payable to certain widows of deceased

veterans of the Spanish-American War, including the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippine Insurrection

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That section 8 of the Act of May 1, 1926, as added by section 3 of the Act of March 1, 1944, (58 Stat. 107; 38 U. S. C. 364g), is amended to read as follows:

"SEC. 8. The rate of pension payable to widows and former widows under the provisions of section 2 of this Act, as amended, is hereby increased to $60 monthly, and the widow or former widow who was the wife of the soldier, sailor, or marine during the period of his service, as defined in section 2 of this Act, shall be paid a pension at the rate of $72 per month.”

SEC. 2. Section 1 of the Act of June 24, 1948 (62 Stat. 645 ; 38 U. S. C. 364i), is amended by deleting the words : "authorized by section 4 of the Act of August 7, 1946 (Public Law 611, Seventy-ninth Congress), as amended by the Act of July 30, 1947 (Public Law 270, Eightieth Congress)”, and inserting in lieu thereof the following: "prescribed by section 8 of the Act of May 1, 1926, as added by section 3 of the Act of March 1, 1944 (58 Stat. 107), as now or hereafter amended (38 U. S. C. 364g), for a widow who was not the wife of the veteran during the period of his service”.

SEC. 3. The rates provided by this Act shall be effective the first day of the second calendar month following its enactment.

Mr. HEWITT. Thank you.

The CHAIRMAN. If there is nothing further to take up, the committee will stand adjourned until the 17th, when the Veterans of Foreign Wars will be with us in force.

Thank you very much, everybody.
(Thereupon the hearing was adjourned.)

VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1953

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS,

Washington, D.O. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Edith Nourse Rogers (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please come to order. The committee has met today to receive a statement from James W. Cothran, commander in chief, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, who is present with members of his staff and a very large delegation of members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, whom we are glad to have with us this morning.

In addition to Mr. Cothran, the commander in chief, we have with us Omar B. Ketchum, director of the legislative service; Col. George H. Ijams, rehabilitation director; and Elmer Richter, director of claims, who are here with Commander Cothran.

STATEMENT OF JAMES W. COTHRAN, COMMANDER IN CHIEF,

VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES; ACCOMPANIED BY OMAR B. KETCHUM, DIRECTOR, LEGISLATIVE SERVICE; GEORGE H. IJAMS, REHABILITATION DIRECTOR; AND ELMER RICHTER, DIRECTOR OF CLAIMS

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Ketchum, do you wish to present the commander to the committee?

Mr. KETCHUM. Madam Chairman and members of the committee, may I say personally, as legislative director, that we are deeply appreciative of this special meeting which you have arranged to receive our commander in chief and national and department officers.

We have asked one of the distinguished members of this committee, who happens to be well acquainted with our commander in chief, to present him to the committee. So at this time I would like to ask the honorable Gen. B. W. (Pat) Kearney, past commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, to present our commander in chief.

The CHAIRMAN. We should be delighted to have Gen. B. W. Kearney present the commander in chief.

STATEMENT OF HON. BERNARD W. (PAT) KEARNEY, A REPRE

SENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK

Mr. KEARNEY. Madam Chairman and ladies and gentlemen of the committee, and my comrades of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States, it is a high privilege for me today to present to the

committee a young veteran of World War II. At the last encampment he was

elected commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. He is a Navy veteran and that is the only thing I hold against him. [Laughter.] He is an attorney in his hometown. He is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and a director of Freedom Foundation.

He is one of the most energetic young veterans in the country today and it is a high honor to present to this committee Jimmy Cothran, the commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States. [Applause.]

Mr. COTHRAN. Madam Chairman and members of this very fine committee, I want to take this opportunity at the very outset of my statement to express my very sincere appreciation of this special hearing today. Unfortunately I was precluded from participating in the meeting the other day when the other veterans organization representatives were present and gave their program to you. I appreciate your taking time off from your very arduous duties to receive us this morning. It is a high compliment to my organization and I want sincerely to thank each and every one of you.

The CHAIRMAN. We are delighted to have you here, Commander. I should like to request the members of our committee to rise and introduce themselves to this fine gathering and identify their congressional districts to you, before we begin our hearing.

(The members of the Veterans Committee were thereupon each presented to the representatives of the Veterans of the Foreign Wars of the United States present in the committee room.)

The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed, Commander.

Mr. COTHRAN. You, no doubt, have observed that I am accompanied here this morning by a large group of our comrades. We are engaged in our conference of national officers and department commanders which is held in Washington each year. Department commanders and other officers from every State and Territory are here to represent the membership of their departments. Our national officers, national council of administration, and major national committees are also present. It is a real privilege for our officers to visit this committee in session. I am proud of our officers and their leadership and am sure they reflect credit on our organization. I am sorry time will not permit each of them to meet and become acquainted with each of you.

To the 14 new members of this committee, may I offer congratulations on your opportunity to serve. You have taken your places on a committee that is probably more important in the daily lives of millions of veterans than any committee in either branch of the Congress. The problems with which you will be confronted are involved and controversial and I hope that our organization can be of assistance. I know you will have valuable assistance and guidance from the experienced members of the committee, who have served with distinction in the 82d and prior Congresses. Although it is well known to those who have had previous service on the committee, I cannot resist bragging to the new members that my good friend and your colleague, Gen. B. W. (Pat) Kearney, is a past commander in chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. We are proud of his record, both as commander in chief and as a Member of Congress. Another of your colleagues on the House side and formerly a member of this committee, James E. Van Zandt of Pennsylvania, was three times chosen as commander in chief of our organization. A total of 307 Members of the Congress are veterans of the Armed Forces, and we are proud to number among our members many legislators who served overseas. I mention this to indicate our organization embraces a responsible membership and is a representative cross section of veterans who have served their country in time of war on foreign soil or in hostile waters.

Each year our national encampment, which is the supreme governing body in our organization, adopts resolutions. Before adoption, resolutions are referred to appropriate encampment committees for consideration and recommendation to the body of delegates. Our national legislative committee later reviews the adopted resolutions, without power to change or delete, and formulates a positive program. We believe national security should be the first concern of every citizen and, accordingly, have assigned top priority to resolutions dealing with that subject. My remarks today shall be confined to problems that come under the jurisdiction of this committee.

THE PROBLEMS

The most important problem confronting this committee is costand you will receive plenty of free advice, mostly conflicting, in and out of the Congress. In other words, how much is our Nation spending on the veteran benefit program; should the cost be increased; remain at about the same level; or be decreased? The answer is easy and you have our complete sympathy in trying to find it. The pro and con pressures will be terrific but I am sure you will be faithful to your obligation and conscientious in your task.

I am going to try to be helpful—here comes some of that free advice— by pointing out certain things which may or may not be “news” to you. First, I should like to point out that veterans, generally speaking, do not create the wars which create veterans. There's an old saying, with much truth, that old men make the wars and young men fight them. Care of veterans is the aftermath of war and directly related to war. War is costly—so is the care of veterans. Avoid wars and you eventually eliminate veterans. This does not, of course, solve your problem of cost but it justifies a sympathetic and generous approach to the problem.

Next, I think it is reasonable to make a comparison of some past and present costs of the veteran benefit program. Is the Nation spending more today on its veterans, in proportion to ability to pay, than in some earlier decade of our history? Surprisingly enough the answer is "No." How often do we hear someone say, often important persons, that we are developing so many veterans and the cost of their benefits are so heavy that we must do something about it-pretty soon all males will be veterans and they will be paying each other benefits? Let's examine the facts.

In the 1890's veterans represented about 3 percent of the total population of the United States. Today veterans represent about 13 cent of the population. Yet, in the 1890's the Government was spending a larger percentage of the national income on its 3 percent of the veteran population than the Government is spending today, out of national income, on its 13 percent of veteran population. It should

per

« PreviousContinue »