Page images
PDF
EPUB

man called on me in January, and told me about the authority order, and he said that beginning with the new term, or about February 4, we should not sell anything to the boys any more without an authority order. We immediately stopped the second system then and waited until the term opened, and gave them the supplies on these new orders.

Mr. Robsion. Now, isn't that the reason that your bills have not been paid, because you have not conformed with this new order of the board?

Mr. HARTOG. Well, but why wasn't I notified? Why didn't they dispute the bills, the correctness of the bills? I can't guess it.

Mr. Robsion. I am not taking sides with the board or with any. body else, but I am just saying, isn't that the reason of the delay in payment of the bills?

Mr. Hartog. I don't know. I have conformed with their requests at all times. Whenever they made a change I conformed to the new change.

Mr. Robsion. Well, do they deny the boys getting books and using them?

Mr. Hartog. They don't deny anything; they don't say anything. I have copies of a dozen letters here which I wrote them, like every business man does, and they never answered a peep.

Mr. Robsion. Did you get any replies to your letters?
Mr. HARTOG. No, sir.

Mr. Robsion. So your charge is that that board there in New York
is inefficient?
Mr. HARTOG. Absolutely.
The CHAIRMAN. There never has been a dispute of an account?

Mr. Hartog. No, sir; except about three little items which the board stated they would not pay. The CHAIRMAN. Your letters have been unanswered? Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Your appearance at the office was not satisfiedor you did not get in to see Mr. Farwell except the one time?

Mr. Hartog. Except the time I simply went into his office without being announced.

Mr. Robson. I want to ask one more question: In your opinion, is the board more efficient or less efficient now than it was back several months ago?

Mr. Hartog. That is a thing I would have to see. When I get the money I will call them efficient.

Mr. King. It all depends on whether you get your money or not, whether anybody is efficient? You judge everything by whether you collect your bills or not? Isn't that the truth?

Mr. HARTOG. If I give somebody something on credit I have to get the money for it to pay that man.

Mr. King. Your whole standard of efficiency depends on whether you get the money?

Mr. Hartog. No, sir; I can give you a bigger talk on efficiency than that.

Mr. Nelsox. I just want to ask one question please: Have you an exclusive contract for supplying these books?

Mr. HARTOG. With the board ?
Mr. NELSON. Yes.

Mr. HARTOG. The board has acknowledged some of our bills.
Mr. NELSON. Is your contract with the college exclusive?
Mr. HARTOG. With the board ?

Mr. Nelson. Well, with the college. In other words, can the students buy the books where they please?

Mr. HARTOG. Yes; they can.
Mr. NELSON. They can buy them elsewhere if they like?
Mr. HARTOG. Anywhere; yes, sir.

Mr. Robsion. They can buy them elsewhere and the Government pay for them?

Mr. HARTOG. I am not sure about that. If they have a purchase order under the present system they can go anywhere.

Mr. Nelson. Then, as I understand it, your bill is for $1,206.90?
Mr. HARTOG. No, sir. You mean the amount due us now?
Mr. Nelson. Your total bill would have been that amount?
Mr. HARTOG. Would have been $1,206.90.
Mr. NELSON. That was approximately 150 students?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir.
Mr. NELSON. Or about $28 per student for books now owed you?
Mr. HARTOG. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. That is all, Mr. Hartog. We will call Mr. Wickersham.

STATEMENT OF MR. CORNELIUS W. WICKERSHAM, NEW YORK

CITY. .

The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.

The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Wickersham, will you please give your name and address and your relationship to the Federal board or to the work for the soldiers vou have done in connection with it?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. My name is Cornelius W. Wickersham, 40 Wall Street, New York City. I was asked by Mr. Saard, the commander of the department of the State of New York, of the American Legion, to represent the State of New York at the conference held early in December at the War Risk Insurance Bureau here in Washington, at which conference it was proposed to take up the work of the war-risk insurance, the vocational training work, and the public-health work, so far as it affected service men, and I came to Washington for that purpose early in December, representing the New York department of the American Legion.

I had been prior to that time very much interested in the legion and its work. I was the chairman of the New York delegation at the St. Louis caucus and was the first chairman of the State of New York department of the American Legion, and I am now chairman of the legal committee of the New York State department.

When I came to Washington we took up, first, the war-risk insurance work at a conference held in the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, at which were present representatives of every State or nearly every State department of the American Legion, and also the national commander and the national adjutant. On the third day of that conference Mr. Lamkin, of the Federal Vocational Training Board, came to the conference and gave us the opportunity of asking him questions as to the work. We had, all of us in the legion had complaints of one

kind or another, particularly during the three or four months prior to last December, some specifically from the men concerned and some indirectly. Those complaints indicated possible deficiencies in the work of the board and its organization, as follows—and I shall give a little later specific instances of the different classes to which I refer.

In the first place, the relatively small number of men who had at that time completed training and the small number of men who had been taking training. In the second place

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). At what date? Mr. WICKERSHAM. I am speaking, now, of early in December, 1919. That is to say, the time at which this conference was held here in Washington. That was in December, 1919.

The CHAIRMAN. That was a month after the convention at Minneapolis.

Mr. WICKERSHAM. It was a month after the convention at Minneapolis, yes, Mr. Chairman, and 13 months after the armistice.

Thirdly, the misplacing of men. That is to say, we kept hearing often that a man who was well qualified to be an electrician would be given basket making, or vice versa. There was a great deal of talk about that, and a number of cases that seemed like real hardships to the men concerned.

The CHAIRMAN. Would it interrupt you, Mr. Wickersham, to ask you a question there? Mr. WICKERSHAM. Not a bit, Mr. Chairman. The CHAIRMAN. Were the complaints coming from any particular section of the country?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. My personal information came principally from New York. I have very little information that I can trace to any source outside of New York, and I do not know what the conditions outside of the East, New York State, and the States adjoining New

York are.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you remember who was in charge at New York at that time?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. I do not, no, Mr. Chairman.
The CHAIRMAN. You would not know whether it was Mr. Griffin?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. I am not sure whether the change had been made at that time or not. I do not remember whether it was Mr. Griffin or not.

Fourth, the low rating of men as to disability. Now, that usually is something for which the Federal Vocational Board is not responsible. It is usually done either by the War Risk Insurance or in the service before a man is discharged, as I understand it. It emphasizes, however, the point that I shall call attention to a little later, namely, that the existing division of the duties of the vocational training, war-risk insurance, and Public Health Service, result in constant difficulties to the men concerned. That is, certain things had to be done by one of these organizations and other things which to the average man seem exactly the same, and really are in essence, but have to be done by another.

Fifth, delays in handling minor cases.

Sixth, red tape. That is the forms, the approval of a central office in Washington for matters which should be determined locally, Seventh, the lack of personal contact between the man who eventually decides on a man's case and the man himself.

and so on.

The CHAIRMAN. Now, Mr. Wickersham, in making this résumé, is it, in your opinion, unnecessary—it could be obviated ?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. Yes, sir. If I may, I would like to suggest a remedy after I have gone a little further.

Eighth, and this was particularly noticeable in New York—the lack of personal sympathy for the disabled soldier.

Ninth, the classification of some men as class 3—that is training without compensation.

I understand that the Comptroller of the Treasury has ruled that in certain cases that must be done, and that an amendment of the act is required to amend that defect in the present system. I should like to refer to that again also.

Those were the principal headings.

The CHAIRMAN. Where you said that there was lack of sympathy, did you mean on the part of the officials who had charge of the rehabilitation ?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. I did.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that general, or in New York?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. It was noticeable in New York. I haven't very much information, Mr. Chairman, as to that, outside of New York. I am told of an order that was issued from Washington which has been referred to in the newspapers as the hard-boiled order. I don't have it myself, and I have never seen it.

The CHAIRMAN. You were not making up your opinion on the lack of sympathy from that order, were you?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. No; I don't have that order. I don't know that it was issued.

The CHAIRMAN. Your impressions that you are now giving are from personal observation, or what has been told you?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. They are both; both information received from men themselves, from officials of the legion, from various other persons, and what I have observed myself, and my studies of the subject.

I am going to give you now, one of my principal sources, which is the number of interesting things that Mr. Lamkin of the board told us at our conference, in answer to questions from some of us who were there. I asked him:

I want to ask you first with respect to the men in the hospitals to whom you go now on the date on which he is discharged. Would it not be possible to go to him at some earlier period.

The CHAIRMAN. I understand that was your question to Mr. Lamkin?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. That was my question to Mr. Lamkin, and I want to explain something about it. We had the night before a dinner in the Capitol Building tendered by a number of Senators and Members of Congress, and by a number of those of us who were attending the American Legion conference, and also by a dozen men from Walter Reed Hospital, who after the dinner

The CHAIRMAN (interposing). I might say I was present at that dinner.

Mr. WICKERSHAM. I thought you were. I did not know whether other members of the committee were or not, but at that dinner, as

the chairman will remember, a number of these men who were still in hospitals—although that was more than a year after the armistice-men who had been wounded in the service in France, told of their experiences with respect to war-risk insurance, vocational training, and the Public Health Service, and the medical service in the Army. And you will remember, Mr. Chairman, Mr. Mondell saying after these men had spoken: “I don't know why it is, we had the best intentions in the world, but we have fallen down on our job.” And I think that was the feeling of all of us.

Here were these men whose rights had not been properly taken care of; some of them did not even know what their rights were; not from a remote hospital in this country, but from one right at the doors of the Capitol, of the central office of the Vocational Training Board, and of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, and of the Public Health Service, and of the War Department.

The (CHAIRMAN. May I ask there, Mr. Wickersham, those boys that appeared and made statements were in the hospital, subject at that time to the care of the Vocational Board? Mr. WICKERSHAM. They were not, as I understand it. The CHAIRMAN. You think not?

Mr. WICKERSHAM. As I understand it, but what we were interested in was in getting the board to see the men before they left the hospital, when they had time to talk over with the man his prospects, his desires, his ideas; to explain the man's rights to him. The ideal time to do it was during the man's convalescence, and to make arrangements then for his training, so that the moment he stepped out of the hospital and was discharged from the service his compensation would begin and his training would begin, if he wanted it, and at the place that he wanted it, and of the character that he Wanted, instead of waiting until the man had gotten to his home, where it became increasingly difficult to reach him, to get any personal contact with him, and I therefore asked Mr. Lamkin, “ Would it not be possible to go to him at some earlier period ”? referring to the man's convalescence in the hospital. Mr. Lamkin answered:

That is our intention, Mr. Wickersham, to do so. If it is not carried out, and we know the man who is not carrying it out, we will separate him from the service. There is no man tied to the job, that I know of.

And then he said a little later:
I do not understand why they have not reached the Walter Reed Hospital.

Here was this great hospital right at the doors of the Capitol, with these men with their lost arms and legs and their broken bones coming and telling us of the apparent and evident lack of care on the part of not only the Vocational Board but other branches of the Government concerned. And Mr. Lamkin said, "I do not understand why they have not reached the Walter Reed Hospital. We will see they are reached in the hospitals and given this information."

I do not know, gentlemen of the committee, whether that has since been done. This statement was made in December last, December, 1919, but I suggest that if it is your intention to interrogate any members of the board, that they be asked whether what Mr. Lamkin said at that time has been carried out, and whether they are now reaching the man while he is still in the hospital. That is

4661-20-VOL 1-13

« PreviousContinue »