Page images

laws of court procedure, without any desire, of course, to get anything except the exact truth, and also such examination would be conducted as is usually conducted by committees.

This is not a prosecution; it is simply an effort to get at all the facts, and it was there decided that every member of the committee should be free to make such examination as he saw fit. Therefore, we could not at this time appoint any particular members of the committee to do that in the examination, a matter that I would be very glad to have done; but it would not suit the committee, in that members would like to be free to make the examination themselves.

Mr. Robsion. If the chairman will permit, it was not my purpose to permit any counsel to take all of the time or ask all of the questions, but to formulate the policy and direct the line of question; that members of the committee ask such questions as they might. It is just a suggestion and I thought it might help. It is my understanding that usually in these investigations we have a counsel and attorney.

The CHAIRMAN. Some of them do; where they expect to find criminal liability or moral turpitude, it is directed by the counsel rather than by members of the committee. But there is no thought of that here. The suggestion that I made would avoid the coming in of a member after a witness has been examined and going through the witness's testimony again that had been already submitted. It is an unfortunate occurrence that we ought not to have to suffer.

Mr. Robson. Yesterday I noticed four different members of the committee asked the witness the same list of questions.

Mr. Brand. That is what I suggested Friday: Mr. Blanton came in here and went over the same line of questioning, bringing out the same testimony that you had gone over and others had gone over, and I think Mr. Dallinger did the same thing, due to the fact that they were not here when the witnesses were put on the stand. This causes unnecessary time to be consumed and unnecessary expense and is not helping the committee one bit.

The CHAIRMAN. I admit that, Judge Brand. I do not know how you can correct it.

Mr. BRAND. If they can get here when we meet. When I hear a witness I am ready to go out and put the next witness on the • stand and do work in the meantime and not take the same witness over and over again.

The CHAIRMAN. It will be necessary to proceed as we have until it is changed by an executive session. We will meet immediately after the close of this session, and if the committee wants to change the order we will do it.

Mr. SEARS. I make this suggestion; the Chair can follow it if he thinks best. I have found in this testimony that the witness refers to the Vocational Board time and time again, and it is not brought out until at the end of his testimony: for instance, I think Mr. Edwards at the end said he had practically no complaint against the central board. His complaint was all local, to the New York board. Now, again, the witnesses will refer to the compensation as of the Federal board.

It seems to me that either you or Judge Towner can ask the witness so that citizens in reading the testimony or the committee in going through it will not have to read clean through the testimony before they find out that the witness was not referring to certain gentlemen but was referring to other gentlemen. Do you not think that will be a good idea where the witness says the Vocational Board to ascertain whether he means the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, the central office, or the local office in New York or whatever State it might be.

The CHAIRMAX. It will be necessary for those who want to get at all the facts to read the hearing.

Mr. SEARs. The reason I had suggested that is that we had agreed not to interrupt until the time to examine comes, and that has happened with nearly every witness that has been on the stand.

The CHAIRMAN. However, it is always corrected. Somebody corrects it in the testimony.

Mr. TOWNER. I just wanted to say a word regarding the matter. The suggestion of the gentleman from Kentucky is, of course, very pertinent. There must be considerable loss of time and duplication of effort in this method of examining witnesses. Then, of course, time could be saved if some particular person was appointed to take charge of the investigation.

However, I feel very strongly, personally, and I think that the majority of the committee feel the same way, that no matter if it takes more time than is necessary, no matter if it does take us from our other work, this matter is of sufficient importance that we should make every sacrifice personally necessary to see that there is absolutely a full and complete hearing regarding this matter, since it has been called to the public mind that certain conditions are charged to exist with the administration of the Vocational Board having particular reference to their treatment of wounded soldiers. It is in my judgment very necessary that we should have a thorough and complete examination. It is not only necessary that this examination should be thorough and complete, in fact; it is necessary that both the parties to what might be called the controversy shall be made to see that the investigation has been thorough and fair in every respect. I should be very deeply pained, and I think every member of the committee would, if we thought that at the close of this examination the soldiers were feeling that the examination had been unfair to them, and I think we should all feel that, in justice to the board, we would not want them to feel that this investigation had been unfair with them or that it had been unnecessarily restricted. I think we want to hear every person that has anything to say regarding this matter that is in the nature of a fact or in the nature of evidence, and we should be opposed to any restriction in form or any restriction in substance of this examination, and I believe that that is the sentiment of almost the entire membership of the committee. These suggestions are not made with any thought to limit it but only to facilitate our business, and I do not see how it is possible for us to do that now.

Mr. BRAND. That is a criticism that tends toward the criticism that I made. I am in thorough accord with what you say, as far as that is concerned.

Mr. TOWNER. I did not intend to criticize anyone's suggestion.

Mr. BRAND. I do not think anything is gained by the repetition of the same questions to the same witnesses.

Mr. Towner. I agree with that, and I think that a full examination under the circumstances we have had, even if it leads to repetition, is better than to shut it off.

Mr. RobsIoN. Mr. Chairman and Judge Towner, I feel that my plan of procedure would make it more thorough. I feel we all want to have it thorough. It is my idea it should be thorough.

Mr. BRAND. I want to see it thorough, complete, and satisfactory to the boys, as well as to the board and to the committee.

The CHAIRMAN. I am afraid we are entering upon a matter here that is entirely out of order.

Mr. DONOVAN. I heard the conclusion of Judge Towner's remarks, and I subscribe to his viewpoint absolutely in regard to the procedure. I should like to be placed on record to the extent that I think it should be complete in every detail, even at the expense of repetition.

The CHAIRMAN. I will make this additional statement, that the examination thus far has been perfectly orderly. It appears to me that there has been a desire on the part of every member of the committee to get at the facts. The only complaint anyone could have would be that it has been consuming time by what appears to be needless repetition. I do not know how to avoid that, so I think we will proceed until such time as the committee in executive session might see fit to make any change.


(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)

The CHAIRMAN. You have given your full name and address to the stenographer?

Mr. MCMURTRIE. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. What relationship have you had with the rehabilitation work?

Mr. McMURTRIE. As a preface to it, I might, if I may, state my interest in the subject. For the last 10 years I have been very much interested in work for cripples, and for the past six years I have studied the matter rather closely of the conduct of training on the subject. It has been purely an avocation with me and has no business relations whatever. I have also been for the last three years president of the Federation of Associations for Cripples in New York City, which is a league of societies working for cripples, and when the interest in the war cripples first came up a gentleman in New York offered to the Red Cross a considerable sum of money to start some activity looking to the welfare of disabled soldiers. No Government organization having moved in that direction, the Red Cross tentatively established an institute for crippled men in New York City, and in August, 1917, I made rather an extensive trip through Canada to study the Canadian system, from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

The institute immediately began making studies of work that had been done, so that it might have information available when the Government work might start.

The CHAIRMAN. Who sent you into Canada?

Mr. McMURTRIE. The Red Cross; and the data we gathered was made available to the Federal Board when it started its work as a public duty. The institute was actually under way; classes were in operation for disabled men. We started them with industrial cripples and others, so that the men gathered together were of all sorts. We had an employment bureau underway before there had been any legislative move whatever. We were only taking care of scattered cases of disability of soldiers, etc., that happened to come to us. Before the vocational rehabilitation bill became a law the institute, at the request of the Federal Board, instituted a training course for vocational officers and arranged for some lectures in New York and for a trip through Canada which, I think, was helpful and useful, so that our relations have been of intense interest. The institute did not play for various reasons any great part in the actual work of rehabilitation, but my own interest has been very keen. About two or three months ago it was necessary for me to go back to my business responsibilities, and I resigned from the work, but the enthusiasm is still there, and I am still as much concerned in what is going on as ever before, and I have constantly maintained contact with the work.

The CHAIRMAN. Up to that time your work was with the institute under the direction of the Red Cross?

Mr. McMURTRIE. Yes, sir.

The CHAIRMAN. And had no official relation with the Federal Board ?

Mr. McMURTRIE. No; other than a very inconsequential relation as member of their advisory committee on tubercular classes that was not of any great importance. The CHAIRMAN. Proceed with your statement.

Mr. McMURTRIE. It is not my desire in testimony at this time to be critical of anything that has gone before. I have been familiar with a good many aspects of the work of the Federal Board which might, in my judgment, be open to criticism, and I do not think that would be the most useful tact to pursue; so, at Judge Towners's suggestion yesterday, when I was before the informal meeting before the committee hearing, I have prepared a memorandum of what I consider the essentials or the comparative essentials of a study of the rehabilitation for disabled men, and it was my thought, since you would get other testimony of the actual workings of the system as it has been in the past, that perhaps it might be most helpful to present some data of that kind of experience, if it is in accord with your wishes.

The CHAIRMAN. That will be very helpful.

Mr. McMURTRIE. What constitutes a sound system of rehabilitation for disabled soldiers ? Fortunately, there is now a considerable body of experience to draw upon for assistance in answering this question.

Mr. BLANTON. I make this point of order: I would be as much interested in the gentleman's statement as anyone if that were the object of our search and investigation, but just now we are not preparing legislation; we are investigating certain charges against the board, and I make the point of order that this investigation should be confined to charges of misconduct or improper functioning by the board now under investigation.

The CHAIRMAN. The Chair overrules the objection. One of the charges against the board is that the law was ineffective and the board is not functioning under the law, and that matter will all come up in due time. The gentleman will proceed.

Mr. McMURTRIE (reading):

At the time the United States entered the war the other belligerent nations had for several years been experimenting with methods of provision for disabled men. The most obvious errors had been discovered and corrected, and the systems were becoming stabilized.

The United States had, in addition to the experience at its disposal, time in which to prepare to discharge its responsibilities to disabled soldiers. Whereas the first disabled soldiers appeared on the streets of London and Paris two or three months after the outbreak of hostilities, a consequential number of our crippled soldiers did not come through the military hospitals to the stage when they would be ready for economic rehabilitation until two years after our declaration of war. So, in spite of the delay of 12 or 13 months in giving the Federal Board for Vocational Education notice of its responsibility in this field, the time was still adequate for preparation.

The temper of Congress was most generous in dealing with questions affecting disabled soldiers. All of the money asked for this cause (in one instance more than was requested) has been appropriated, and reasonable demands for legislative authority have been met. It was certainly the intention of Congress that the disabled American service man should be dealt with generously and capably.

What, then, are the essential elements in the plan of rehabilitation which should have been and, indeed, still should be worked out?

1. The first requisite is sufficient money with which to do the job. There has been no handicap of a financial character in this country. The French, for example, saw many rehabilitation features which they would have liked to carry through, but funds were not available. It is not enough to offer disabled soldiers training courses. for unless support for them and their families can be provider! they can not take advantage of the opportunities. For this maintenance colossal appropriations are requisite, but they have not been forthcoming.

2. The second item is organization. It is patent that the disabled soldier in Wyoming should be dealt with in essentially the same way as his injured company mate from New Jersey. This requires national organization, which must be directed from Washington. But as the disabled man, after he is through with hospital treatment, wishes above all else to get back home the practical work must be done at a myriad of points throughout the country. The district system of organization is thus indicated, and the Federal board very wisely divided the country into 14 administrative districts. But in its method of administering those districts it was not so wise.

It should be recalled that the problem is one of human relation, personal and individual. Be there 40,000 or 200,000 disabled soldiers with whom to deal, it may be safely averred that no two cases are alike. Each case calls for an original decision, which some persons or group of persons must make. This situation would call for the establishment of some general rules of practice and some general prohibitions, leaving considerable latitude of judgment to the representative most closely in touch with the individual soldier.

The central office must needs have statistics and records. It must also lay down rules and regulations. But the work must be done in the field and the data sent to Washington for record and possible criticism. It is better that a representative of the board should meet a disabled soldier in Butte, Mont., should study the case, should make a plan with the man, and actually start him in training and then send a record of the case to Washington, than that the whole matter should be held up pending decision from the central office. Even if the judgment of the local representative is correct but 90 per cent of the time, there is no guaranty that the sapience of the Washington office, which has never seen the soldier, will be greater. One thing is sure, referring all cases for decision to a central point means endless red tape and delay. Delegating the power of decision to the man who actually deals with the soldier is simple and direct as well as logical.

It is an axiom of administration that responsibility and authority engender interest and enthusiasm. Put a job up to a man and the chances are he will do it well. Make him a rubber stamp or a routine clerk and you kill his spirit.

« PreviousContinue »