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B. Fisher, of Jamestown, N. Y.; Mr. James R. Nicholson, of Boston; Mr. Edward Rightor, of New Orleans; Mr. Fred Harper, of Lynchburg, Va.; and Mr. Bruce A. Campbell, of East St. Louis, Ill. All of them are past grand exalted rulers of the order, and all of them are men who have been successful in public affairs and in business and commercial pursuits.
This commission constructed and donated to the Government a . reconstruction hospital in Boston. They equipped and outfitted completely two large base hospitals in France. They built a community house at Camp Sherman for the use of the parents of the boys who were sick there during the time of the influenza epidemic. The commission donated $60,000 to the Salvation Army and assisted substantially in raising about $4,000,000 throughout the country under the auspices of the subordinate lodges for the Salvation Army.
The signing of the armistice left the commission with considerable money on hand which was not otherwise committed; and among the almost innumerable propositions submitted to the commission for the use of this money was one that came from the Federal Board for Vocational Education, through Dr. Prosser, who was then director of the board. Dr. Prosser represented to the commission that there were many thousands of American boys disabled in the war who could not be taken care of under the law passed by Conyress for vocational training. Those cases included especially the American boys who had enlisted with the armies of the Allies and who had been wounded in the service and also boys in our own Army who were disabled or wounded while in the service, but while technically not in line of duty and therefore outside of the purview of the law.
Dr. Prosser also pointed out that the law provided that aid or assistance could be accepted by the board from private agencies in carrying out the purposes of the law. After thoroughly considering all of the propositions submitted to them the members of the commission decided unanimously that no better use could be made of the money they had remaining on hand than to devote it to the Government's vocational training program. So, a fund of $100,000 was set aside by the commission as a donation to the work of rehabilitation; that is, for the full support and training of American disabled boys who were outside of the purview of the law passed by Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. That was a donation and not a loan?
Mr. Lysons. That was a donation. The maximum sum of $200,000 was then set aside as a revolving fund to be loaned to boys in training under the provisions of the law passed by Congress but who were from time to time temporarily in need of financial assistance.
The CHAIRMAN. Would that loan be made directly to the boys from the Elks' organizations or through the board ?
Mr. Lysons. I will explain that. Of course, you understand, and as Dr. Prosser pointed out to the commission, Government funds can not be paid out in advance of service rendered, and a good many of those boys were unable to enter upon training because they did not have money enough to provide for their first month's expenses. Some needed clothing and other necessities. So this fund was turned
over by the commission to an official who appears on our records as custodian of the Elks' fund. Dr. Prosser was designated as such custodian by the commission. This money was deposited as needed in the name of the commission in one of the banks of Washington, D. C., and is paid out by the custodian of the fund-paid out for the Elks War Relief Commission and the custodian draws on that fund as he needs it, keeping sufficient on hand to provide for the needs for a certain limited period. As that is reduced from time to time he receives additional funds from the commission. This revolving fund, or the loan fund, as it is called, is, of course, replenished from time to time. The figures up to the first of March show that at that time there were 74 cases on the support fund of the Elks War Relief Commission. The CHAIRMAN. What date was that?
Mr. Lysons. February 28. That is the last date that I have for these figures. We will have the figures in two or three days, down to the first of April. At that time there had been paid out from the support fund $18,947.19, and there had been commitments for those 74 cases amounting to $75,813.30. That, of course, was to provide for the full training and support of these boys through the courses assigned to them. On the 28th of February there were approximately 26,000 boys in training; that is, the total. The records at that time showed that there had been 22,574 separate instances in which these boys had received financial assistance from the Elks fund. The total amount loaned up to that time was $404,340.80, of which amount there had been repaid $268,587.64.
The value of this loan fund is such that letters we have from boys who have received help and from officials of the Federal board indicates that there are perhaps thousands of boys in training who either could not have entered upon the training courses or could not continue in them except for help received from some such source as this. Some officials of the Federal board have even gone so far as to say that this assistance they have had from the Elks' fund has been so valuable that it has gone very far towards assuring the success of the work, and some of them say that in their opinion without some help of this kind the work would have failed.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you state in connection with that that there was any lack of funds on the part of the Congress that made it necessary for the board to go outside to get it?
Mr. Lysons. Well, it is apparent that some help of this kind was needed to get anything like efficiency in this vocational training work. That is, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of these boys who could not go into training without some such' help as this, whether it comes from a private source or from the Government. The Government, however, has not provided any such fund.
The CHAIRMAN. What I wanted to get before the committee was whether your impression, in your experience representing the Elks' organization, would lead you to think that some outside assistance beyond Congress was necessary in order to make effective rehabilitation. I want to know whether there is a belief in the public that it was necessary for the rehabilitation board outside of Congress to get funds in order to be effective in its work.
Mr. Lysons. I am convinced from my experience in this work that, so far as this fund goes and for those boys who have been
helped by it, it is just as important as the provisions made by Congress for the training of these men.
The CHAIRMAN. Would you permit me to make a statement there? Mr. Lysons. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. It might be out of order if anybody should object to it. But in the framing of this law there was much contention on that last clause of the law providing for the acceptance of funds from outside sources from these people - who would be altruistically impressed and want to give associations like the benevolent and protective Order of Elks. It was at that time suggested that since money could not be anticipated until service was rendered that it might be of value to keep that open, although there was some very keen opposition to the idea of letting anybody assist the Government. It appears that it was a wise thing to put that clause in and that the Elks' fund has served very handsomely, but it seems to me it has left the impression in the public that Congress was dilatory and it was necessary for the Elks' organization to come in to assist the work of the board. I hope that may be
Mr. Towner. Will you allow me to make an additional statement regarding that matter? The CHAIRMAN. Yes; if it does not interrupt the witness. Mr. Lysons. No, sir; not at all.
Mr. TOWNER. It was not suggested to the committee nor was it suggested on the floor of the House that it would be advisable to establish a revolving fund. The Elks very wisely and very judiciously met that omission. However, if it had been called to the attention of Congress I am sure that we would have been glad to have considered it and provided it. The idea of a revolving fund to meet these special emergencies was, of course, a very happy one, and met particular emergencies that could not have been met in any other way. I am very sure the Congress and the people of the country are very grateful to the Elks for stepping in and assisting at that particular time.
Mr. Lysons. I can assure the committee that the Elks' War Relief Commission is thoroughly appreciative of that sentiment on the part of Congress.
The Elks War Relief Commission, of course, was facing the actual condition existing and there was no other way, apparently, of meeting it, and the commission was very glad to lend its support to this work. Their sole object, of course, was to aid the boys and to aid this work which they believed in.
The CHAIRMAN. If the witness will permit, no one in Congress at the beginning of this work had really a comprehensive view of how great the work would be, and the first or initial appropriation was one of $2,000,000, which was thought at that time in view of what the other countries had done to be very handsome, but in the very short time that the work was under way there was a necessity for a deficiency call and then the appropriation came.
A member of the committee reminds me of what I very well remember, that the experts who appeared before our committee from Canada made the estimate that there would be about 13,000 boys to rehabilitate. You may proceed.
Mr. LYSONS. There is also another Elks' fund I would like to speak of. In taking up this work, the Elks' War Relief Commission in conjunction with and in consultation with officials of the Federal board found that publicity was an immediate and urgent necessity. At that time there had been about 23,000 disabled men discharged from hospitals and they were scattered all over the country without knowing anything about this vocational training work. Many of them had been discharged before the vocational training bill was passed.
They were at their homes in various parts of the country and knew nothing about this particular feature, vocational training, and it was necessary to reach them and their parents and other relatives and friends and acquaint them with the situation and the fact that vocational training was offered them and, in addition to that, to persuade them to take advantage of it. It seemed to the commission and the Federal Board officials that the motion-picture screen was the best method of putting out this sort of publicity, and so the commission made an appropriation of $50,000 for the production of a special-feature motion picture, which was to be produced under the auspices of the Federal Board for Vocational Education and to be put out with the approval of the board.
The CHAIRMAN. Was that $50,000 a loan?
Mr. Lysons. No; that was a donation. That was donated to what is called the publicity fund. That money was spent in the production of a five-reel special-feature picture called “ The Way Back," which is a very high-class picture with a vein of vocational training propaganda running through it, and it is now in distribution and being exhibited throughout the country under the auspices of the 1.370 subordinate Elks lodges. The purpose of this picture is to arouse the people of the country to the importance of this vocational training work and to persuade the boys, the disabled men, in their individual cases, to take advantage of it.
Mr. REED. Is that the film entitled “The Spirit of Elkdom"?
Mr. LYSONS. No; the Elks' War Relief Commission has produced an additional picture called " The Spirit of Elkdom,” which is being distributed along with “The Way Back.”
“ The Spirit of Elkdom” shows something on the screen of the history of the order, and particularly the war-work activities of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. The purpose of putting that out is somewhat historical, and also to get the Elks' subordinate lodges interested in the general vocational training program. That picture also contains considerable of the vocational training work.
The value of publicity and personal work among these disabled men has been greatly emphasized to those of us who are connected with the Elks' War Relief Commission in this work. A great many of these boys have to be persuaded to take up vocational training. That was particularly true in New York, where on being discharged from the hospitals boys without funds were found on the streets selling trinkets, and in some cases even begging, and picking up $10, $15, or $20 a day. In such cases it was necessary to persuade them to drop that sort of thing and take up vocational training.
In addition to the other part of our organization, I want to mention the fact that every subordinate Elks' lodge, by direction of the
grand exalted ruler, has a special committee called the soldiers' friend committee. It is the duty of the members of this committee to search out disabled men in their respective cities and persuade them to take up vocational training. There have been instances where it has been reported to us that it has been necessary for members of our committees to talk with boys or their parents 10 or 15 or 20 times in order to persuade them to take up this vocational work. In New York City our committees there, the soldiers' friend committee, has picked up more than 200 boys and taken them over to the vocational training offices and persuaded them to take up vocational training: I mention this to show the importance of this personal contact with these boys and the personal touch it requires to get them into vocational training. Occasionally, some of them, too, seem to think that the country owes them a living, for what they have done for it and sacrifies they have made for it and it is necessary to point out to them that it is important to them to get into a permanent vocation, to learn a trade or profession which will make them independent and self-supporting and self-respecting members of society. We have found that personal contact with the boys is necessary in cases of that kind especially.
The Chairman. In your experience with the boys who have to be persuaded to go into training, do you find a boy, after he enters the training satisfied or is he wanting to leave?
Mr. Lysons. Well, it is a very valuable thing to keep in personal touch with the boys while they are in training. To that end, in some of the subordinate Elks' lodges, the use of the lodge room, or some room connected with the home or the club, has been given over to those boys and where there are enough of them in the city to effect an organization, the use of the room, to meet once or twice a month, is given, and members of the Elks' lodge keep in touch with them personally and keep them cheered up and encouraged to remain at the work.
The Chairman. You have heard during this investigation quite a number of witnesses testify to dissatisfaction with the training of the boys and it was usually attributed to unwise decisions on the part of the board. Will your own experience enable you to give an opinion on that?
Mr. Lysons. You mean as to allowing them to choose their own vocation ?
The CHAIRMAN. Largely. To get at whether this dissatisfaction that has been testified to quite extensively here on the part of the boys is a lax administration on the part of the board and that the board, therefore, would be subject to that criticism? Is that your experience ?
Mr. Lysons. We have found it advisable to adopt the practice which we have adopted of consulting these boys as to vocation and where possible to consult their parents. I believe that pretty generally, where the boys persist in wanting to take up a certain vocation they have been allowed to do that so far as we are concerned unless it is found that they are entirely unfitted for that particular vocation.
The CHAIRMAN. Another question that could come at that point I asked awhile ago in a little different form. You will find a boy