« PreviousContinue »
pose of Congress, namely, to get quick service to the men. I would like to get your viewpoint as an expert along that line.
Mr. McMURTRIE. I would heartily approve of some move which would have that effect. Of course, it is utterly impossible at this late day to consolidate the office forces and records of the Bureau of War Risk Insurance and the Vocational Board, but I do think it might be practicable to set up some authority which would have jurisdiction over the Vocational Board, the War Risk Insurance Bureau, and the Public Health Service, as their activities relate to disabled soldiers; and then that superauthority, as it were, might make a supervisory district or organization, and this district organization would be empowered to act under the several regulations and report their pension findings to the Bureau of War Risk Insurance, divisional claims, their vocational training findings, and action to the Vocational Board, etc.
In other words, I do not think you could possibly consider a merger, administratively, of the different organizations, but I do think you could set up a rehabilitation authority, or a repatriation authority. It may interest you—you probably already know it—but rather recently Canada thought that all the interests of the returning soldiers should be served by one authority, so that you could fix the responsibility, and that one bureau could not say, “ Well, we have not acted because the papers are in the other bureau's hands.” So they set up the Department of Soldiers Civil Reestablishment, which has a minister in the cabinet, and they have charge of the pensions—the pension bureau was transferred to that department—they have charge of vocational rehabilitation; they have charge of everything that reJates to the returned soldiers, and it has been, I think, a very happy arrangement, because one man or one group of men have been able to sit down and make a coordinate plan, and they have not had to say, "Well, we would like to put this through, but we can't, because we can't come to an agreement with this other bureau.”
In Australia the same thing has been done. They have a minister of repatriation-an excellent word, by the way, I think—and they attend to all the things in Australia. The same is the case in New
Zealand. | Mr. BURROUGHS. I understood you to say, however, in answer to a previous question, that in general you thought that the faults here, if faults there were, were due rather to administration than to law?
Mr. McMURTRIE. Absolutely.
Mr. BURROUGHS. You have made some study of the law as it is now with reference to the way it works out? You are familiar with its terms? Mr. McMURTRIE. Yes, sir.
Mr. BURROUGHS. And you would have no suggestions to make as to any changes in the law itself?
Mr. McMURTRIE. Only this and in this I don't know enough about the working of Government machinery to judge—only this: If some of the red tape could be cut on the disbursement of the funds, so that they could be handled locally, there might be necessary some amendment which would issue instructions to the Comptroller of the Currency to enable the thing to be done in a common-sense manner. I would not be qualified, though, to say what needs to be done.
Mr. BURROUGHS. And in general your suggestion constructively with reference to the administration of this law would be one of decentralization ? Mr. McMURTRIE. Yes, sir; most distinctly.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McMurtrie, you were present at the hearings held when we were securing the facts upon which to build this law. You appeared and testified. It is a matter of record, simply of evidence, that the witness was not only interested, but his information was given with the rest of them when we were seeking the facts upon which to base the law that we are now operating under.
We are very much obliged to you, Mr. McMurtrie.
Mr. McMURTRIE. Mr. Brunson's name was brought into this matter. I have never met the gentleman. I believe you said you knew him, didn't you?
Mr. McMURTRIE. I know him personally; yes, sir,
Mr. SEARs. Well, do you think that whether he belongs or does not belong to a labor union would influence him in deciding a soldier's case? Don't you think he would give the soldier justice?
Mr. McMURTRIE. I should think that in a field such as employment, where there are various considerations antagonistic in nature between organized labor, between the employer, that fitting a soldier in between those two interests, a dispassionate person with no connections, or no past commitments in the field, would naturally be the most judicial and fair-minded director. That would be my only feeling there.
Mr. SEARS. Would you make the charge that he would not act justly?
Mr. McMURTRIE. No; I would leave that to your judgment.
Mr. SEARs. Well, I have no judgment. You say that you know the man. I have never met him.
Mr. McMURTRIE. It seems to me that in any dispute between the public and the United States Steel Corporation, the counsel of the United States Steel Corporation would not be the best judge to set up.
Mr. SEARS. I do not know what he belongs to, but as a matter of fact, a great many of these boys, I presume, belong to the union?
Mr. McMURTRIE. Certainly.
Mr. SEARs. Wouldn't he be interested in bringing those_boys back to the point that they could make a living?
Mr. McMURTRIE. Surely; but it would seem to me, perhaps, that his decision and attitude in any given case might be unconsciously colored by his past affiliations.
Mr. SEARs. Then you are getting back to where you and I first began, that if you leave it to a local man in the field, his judgment might be biased ?
Mr. MCMURTRIE. Oh, yes; certainly.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. McMurtrie, the persons whose names you are going to give to the committee are located near New York?
Mr. McMTRTRIE. Some of them are.
The CHAIRMAN. Could they be gotten there better than here?
The CHAIRMAN. What I want to know is if a subcommittee should go to New York could they reach them there better than here? Mr. McMURTRIE. Yes, sir; they could.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will stand in recess until 2 o'clock this afternoon.
Mr. TOWNER. Just one moment, Mr. Chairman. I want to make a statement.
A short time ago, during the progress of this examination, Mr. Holder, a member of the board, asked me to make the statement that as a member of the board he desired that notification should be made that any employee of the board might testify without apprehension of any criticism. Whereupon I asked another member of the board, Mr. Munroe, what his opinion regarding the matter was, and he stated that he certainly approved of that statement and desired that it should be made. Then I asked the chief of rehabilitation, Mr. Lamkin, regarding the matter, and he also asked me to make this statement for the record, that any employee of the board was not only allowed but invited to testify before this hearing, perfectly freely, without any fear of any criticism or punishment from the board.
Mr. REED. May I ask one question? I do not want this witness to get away without asking him one or two questions.
The CHAIRMAN. If there are many more we will have to hold him until 2 o'clock.
Mr. REED. I don't want to hold him. I just want to ask you this: You have been in this central or divisional office in New York, have you not? Mr. McMURTRIE. Yes, sir.
Mr. REED. And you have seen the boys waiting there to be examined. Now I just want to ask you this question from your experience with the boys, these fellows that are injured, that come in there, they are hardly normal, are they? Their minds are more or less wrought up?
Mr. MCMURTRIE. A great many disabled men are that way.
Mr. REED. Do you think it would eliminate some of the feeling of criticism if there were people there of a sympathetic character who could talk with them sympathetically until such time as their case was reached? Or is that now done?
Mr. McMURTRIE. I could not say what is being done in the recent past, but naturally this dealing with the man directly when he comes in, and bringing him in touch with somebody in authority to act upon his case is the thing that will give the man most satisfaction.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will stand in recess until 2 o'clock.
(Whereupon, at 12 o'clock, noon, the committee recessed until 2 o'clock p. m., this day.)
AFTER RECESS. The committee reassembled at 2 o'clock, p. m., pursuant to the taking of recess.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will please come to order. Mrs. Jacobs, will you take the stand? Give your full name and address to the stenographer.
4661–20—Vol 1- 16
STATEMENT OF MRS. JANET L. JACOBS, NEW YORK CITY.
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
Mrs. JACOBS. My name is Janet Logan Jacobs, 17 East Eleventh Street, New York City. My husband's name is Charles P. Jacobs.
The CHAIRMAN. Whom do you represent here, Mrs. Jacobs! Yourself or any organization?
Mrs. JACOBS. No; I represent only myself. When I was doing this work, the last part of it, I was with the Red Cross, but at present I am almost entirely by myself.
The CHAIRMAN. You are not with the Red Cross now?
Mrs. JACOBS. In a very slight connection, but nothing that has anything to do with the matter I am bringing forward at the present time.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you devoting all your time now to the soldiers? Mrs. JACOBS. Yes.
The CHAIRMAN. You may proceed in your own way, unless some member of the committee wants to interrupt you, to give your experience with the rehabilitation work.
Mrs. Jacobs. I think I will start in then by reading this letter that I wrote in October to the American Legion.
The CHAIRMAN, October, 1919?
Mrs. Jacobs. 1919. I had gone to the American Legion in the early part of October for help in the terrible muddle that the Vocational Board of Education had put so many of these wounded men in.
The CHAIRMAN. When you use the phrase “ Vocational Board," do you refer to the board here at Washington ?
Mrs. Jacobs. No; my only experience with the Federal board has been with the Federal board in New York City and has covered a period of time from sometime about the middle of May until the present moment.
Some time in October, as I say, I went to the National Headquarters of the American Legion in New York City at that time and asked them for help and found there that they also, as you found yesterday, through Mr. Wickersham, were looking into the situation. At the time we came to no special conclusion. Two or three days later they sent a man, a Mr. John Wilbur, down to me to talk over the vocational situation in order to present it at the American Legion National Conference in Minneapolis.
At that time they wanted me to appear there, and I did not want to appear. It was thoroughly a man's part, not mine. Then he asked me if I would not go out there, would I not embody my experiences and views in a letter. Before doing anything on that I again returned to the American Legion and asked them if they wished me to do just this. They did, and asked me if I would make the letter as a letter to the American Legion, rather than to Mr. Wilbur, which I much preferred doing. Mr. Wilbur had been appointed, as I understood from him, by, I think, Col. Derby, and he used the name of Col. Roosevelt-I don't know whether he was on that committee to investigate somewhat the vocational situation and report on it in Minneapolis. So I wrote this letter to the American Legion Weekly that had its headquarters in the same floor with the American national headquarters, the American Legion, in New York City. Also
this letter contains in the margin the names of the Federal board men that Mr. Littledale quoted from in his articles, without giving the names, knowing that I would give them before you when you called me. I shall give the name of the Federal board man aş I quote from him.
The CHAIRMAX. Let me interrupt you. When Mr. Littledale was being examined, there were some names that he declined to give. Are those the names?
Mrs. JACOBS. Those are. I am not sure they are all the names of everyone, but they were the names that he refused to give, that he said the witness that should tell them was Mrs. Janet L. Jacobs, and I am Mrs. Janet L. Jacobs. Does that cover your question?
The CHAIRMAN. That covers my question. He did not decline to give them, but he said that he preferred not to, and said that they would be supplied by a witness that was to appear. So you are to supply them? Mrs. Jacobs. I am supplying them. [Reading:]
OCTOBER 28, 1919. Attention of Mr. James : AMERICAN LEGION,
19 West Forty-fourth Street, New York City. GENTLEMEN: My work in connection with the Vocational Board for Education has continued for several months and began purely as a side issue arising out of the regular Red Cross canteen service. The first case came through an accidental meeting on top of a bus with a wounded soldier who was apparently so downhearted and in trouble that I immediately inquired the cause. I found that he had applied for vocational training and that several weeks had elapsed in which he had received no answers of any kind, no financial assistance of any kind, and was entirely out of funds.
From that time on I handled many so-called “hard cases" and arranged their affairs with the board in personally conducted visits; that is, I went on each occasion with the boy, once or repeatedly, until he finally obtained what he was clearly entitled to. This varied experience has shown clearly what the faults in the board are, and naturally suggests the remedy. The faults are of two kinds. First, the inadequacy of the law itself providing for vocational training.
There I would like to add that in my mind I have always wished that it was for the rehabilitation of the soldier without even specifying vocational now; letting that be in the majority of cases the thing that would be used, but that the emphasis be laid on the rehabilitation rather than on the fact of it being vocational.
The CHAIRMAN. Will you state at this time why you would omit “ vocational ” work in the wording of the law ?
Mrs. Jacobs. Because in the rehabilitation of a soldier, the vocation plays a necessary and self-evident part in the majority of cases in rehabilitation. In the working out of this law on occasions when men needed only, for instance, a training in English, the writing and speaking and use of English, in order to put them in a position where they could on their own responsibility receive a job and helpthe wounded men—they were refused. In the early days of this training, and up to within the last-certainly since January 1, men have complained to me that English alone was denied them because that was education and not vocation; where in the case of one manand I don't know his name—may I tell you of the case even though I don't know the man's name?
The CHAIRMAX. If there is no objection on the part of the committee.