« PreviousContinue »
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will have a session to-morrow at 10 o'clock, and then the committee will adjourn its work until Friday a week in order to get all the hearings and have an opportunity to look over the testimony and give the board whatever chance that it will give them to get their matter in shape. We will take up the board's testimony immediately following the to-morrow's session.
Then, if after the board and the persons who are requested to appear have testified it may be well to take a short recess to call anyone else or to recall any if the committee wants anyone to come back. I make this statement for the record and for the newspaper people so that the public will understand what we are doing. The desire is to get all the facts and take the time to look into every angle of the work, make such recommendations if the committee finds the facts to warrant it, so that the investigation will be complete and thorough, altogether with one idea to make this service the best that is possible.
The committee is adjourned.
(Thereupon, at 5.30 o'clock p. m., the committee adjourned at the call of the chair and was called to meet again at 10 o'clock a. m., Thursday, April 15, 1920.)
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION,
Thursday, April 15, 1920.
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS.
(The witness was duly sworn by the chairman.)
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Rogers, you may give your name and your present address.
Mr. ROGERS. John Jacob Rogers, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Rogers, it has been suggested that you have some information that would be of value to the committee, and if it is your wish, we will allow you to make such statement as you desire to make.
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I am very glad to have an opportunity of coming before the committee this morning because I have during the last eight or nine months given a great deal of attention to the Federal Board for Vocational Education and have, to my mind, established conclusively that the board has not been functioning up to the standard that we, and the country, have the right to expect.
The chairman of the committee is also a member of the Committee on Rules and will recall that just about six months ago, on October 9, I appeared before the Committee on Rules in support of a resolution which I had introduced asking for the appointment of a select committee for the investigation of this Federal board. It was not, apparently deemed wise, for some reason, at that time, to have the investigation, and I am very glad, indeed, that this committee has decided to take a step which I believe to be of paramount importance to the discharged soldiers.
I feel some embarrassment in coming before the committee at this stage of the hearings because I am well aware that the gentlemen on the committee have been hearing for a good many weeks from unimpeachable sources the story of the Federal board. I suspect, therefore, that the knowledge of the members of the committee far outruns my own knowledge.
There are a few circumstances and facts which I should like to bring to the attention of the committee in a very sene el wey, and I want to do that, if you please, by pinning the facts and the conclusions to one particular case which came to me quite recently. I assume that we have all had a great many cases upon which we could not get action, but this case has struck me as one of the most inexplicable which has come to my notice. It is written by a mother in the city of Methuen, Mass., Mrs. Daniel F. Barry. Mrs. Barry says she is no scholar, and perhaps, she is in part correct, but she makes a very clear statement of what I feel to be an extraordinary case. This is dated January 16, 1920.
Dear Sir: I have a wounded soldier here who was promised vocational training just one year ago to-day. He has been to Boston 11 different times for examinations, and it seems he is as far from training now as he was when he was in the hospital in France. 1
may say parenthetically that Methuen is about 30 miles from Boston, and probably the time in transit would be something like an hour each way each time.
He has not worked one day since September 26th, after a hemorrhage from the lung disorders. He takes these hemorrhages at times. Dr. Ricardo Nestre, of 51 Cornhill St., Boston, Mass., U. S. P. H. Service, told him he must keep quiet and not exert himself, etc., last Nov. 13. Well, my son was in the U. S. Army for 24 years and was wounded by a piece of shrapnel going down through his shoulder and into his lung, and it is still there. But he (God bless him) can't make these people believe he is wounded or there is anything the matter with him. Dr. Burges3. of Methuen or Law. rence, took an X ray of it. He took it to Boston with him. We all saw the X ray. Dr. Burgess still has the X ray. The piece of metal could plainly be seen, but it don't seem to impress these Boston people that he has anything at all the matter with him. He was in Boston yesterday again, but as far away as ever from vocational training. Of course, you can see I am no scholar, but I am keeping my son when I do think they might give him a chance. My son gets $3 a month compensation from the State. Yes; $3 big dollars. Well, I am imploring of you to do something for him. The Red Cross here in Methuen is doing all she can, but it seems just the same old stall all the time. In Boston they told my son they would start him to school January 1st sure. But instead they send for him to Boston again for examination.
My son, John Richard Barry, was wounded in France at Chateau-Thierry. Why they don't want to help him is a mystery to me. I am almost sick over this, but I thought I would ask your help in the matter. Every time he goes to Boston we think it is a final for him to start to school. Well, I don't know what to say. I am the one who is the sufferer as well as him. Now, why they don't help him I don't know. I expect they will want to operate on him so they won't give him vocational training. Well, the fine doctors in France would not take a chance, if there was any chance. They are the ones who would take it. But these Boston people will not do anything for him.
Now, the $3 ain't much, but he has not got December yet-just imagine. Well, I feel terrible over this, and that is putting it pretty mild. I gave my sons (two) with all my heart. I little thought he would be used like they are using him. He is 22 and an old man; can't play ball or do anything of the games he used to do.
Well, now I ask your help in this matter. Please, please do something. You can, I am sure.
Well, God bless you and help him. I feel you will. The soldier's name is 1/c Private John Richard Barry, Company L, 103d Reg. Inf., 26th Div. I am his mother. Respectfully, yours,
Mrs. BARRY, 7 Craven St., Methuen, Mass.
The CHAIRMAN. May I ask, Mr. Rogers, what success you have had with that case?
Mr. Rogers. That is exactly what I desired to call attention to. This letter is dated January 16, 1920, and I will remind the committee that it states that vocational education had been applied for exactly one year before, namely, January 16, 1919. The boy had been wounded at Chateau-Thierry in the summer of 1918. We received that letter two days after its date, on January 18, 1920.
For reasons, which I shall dwell on a little more later, we did not deal with the Federal board office in Washington at all. We telegraphed at once to Mr. McLeod, who is the district vocational officer in Boston. On January 20, two days after we had telegraphed, we got word from McLeod that reexamination had shown a major vocational handicap and that the case was being rushed.” The boy was granted vocational education within a day or two from that time, and, as far as I know, judging from the mother's letter of thanks, which came a few days later, the case is closed. But the circumstance that I want to emphasize is that this boy had been to Boston 11 different times at intervals covering an entire year. He had not been able to get results himself. He apparently had used local agencies such as the Red Cross. He apparently had had the aid and the assistance of the physicians of repute in the neighborhood, but even then had not been able to get action. He finally concluded to write to his Congressman. The Congressman sends one wire, and the next day but one, he, the Congressman, does get results.
I was grateful and gratified that I was able to put that case through. Perhaps, it was merely a coincidence, but at all events it was a rather remarkable coïncidence that after a year of delay the favorable result followed within 48 hours from the time I sent the telegram. But the point that has bothered me a lot, and still bothers me, is what would have become of that boy if he had not finally concluded to write his Congressman. What would have become of the boy who was either uninformed or friendless or ignorant and who did not know enough, even after a year's time, to write to his Congressman? Would he in time have gotten results? We all hope so, but in the light of this case I do not think we can feel at all sure. Why was influence necessary ?
There is one other point I want to develop from this same case. We used to try in my office to work these things out by taking the case up with the Washington office of the Federal board. I think most of us who have investigated this question at all feel that it was unfortunate that there was not a far greater degree of decentralization. But there was not, and, consequently, it seemed to be the rather obvious and natural route to start with the office in Washington. But, gentlemen, we could not get results by dealing with Washington. We could not even get replies to telephone inquiries or to letters, and so in course of time we concluded that our best course was to take up these cases by telegraph with the Boston officer. I have never met Mr. McLeod. As far as I know, I have never met any man in the Boston office, but we can ordinarily get pretty prompt action by taking up a oase with the Boston office.
I want to cite, perhaps not a very extreme case, but the sort of thing we have been obliged to contend with in trying to deal with the Washington office. Here is the case of a corporal, Romaine G. C. Nichols. The data was completed by the Boston district vocational officer and sent to Washington on November 5 of last year. We waited a day or two to make sure that the papers should have been received in Washington. The morning of November 10, 1919, we telephoned the vocational board asking for the status of the case, and I may say that we had taken up the policy of telephoning simply because we could not get replies within a reasonable time when we wrote letters. We were told that the report would be telephoned
later that day. That was November 10. We got no word that day. We telephoned at noon the next day to the same branch and were told that the telephone report would positively be given us in a few moments. At 3 o'clock that afternoon, still having heard nothing, we telephoned the private secretary to Dr. Munroe, who looked up the matter and advised that the report would be telephoned later in the afternoon. Late that afternoon we did get a report from the seeretary to the effect that “a search” was being made for the records in the case.
Some time after that we located the case, and some time still after that, as I recall, by dealing with the Boston office, we were able to get affirmative results. As I say, you could not get replies to letters within a reasonable time. You could not get reports over the telephone that had been promised. And so, casting about for a solution, as I say, we have gotten into the habit of communicating directly with the Boston branch and have had, as we feel, pretty sair success.
I feel in these matters, gentlemen, that what is done quickly is twice done, because these delays are of enormous consequence to the boys and to the families of the boys who are concerned. "I remember at the time of the hearing before the Committee on Riles, Mr. McMurtrie, who, I think, has testified before this committee, an expert on vocational rehabilitation and training, said that unless you caught these boys within two weeks after they were discharged from the hospital, your chances of successfully rehabilitating them were materially reduced. And, of course, it follows from that that the longer the intervening delay the greater the likelihood of failure in making the boy a successful man, which is what we are all-in the Federal Vocational Board and out of the Federal Vocational Board-are seeking to do.
I should like to say-perhaps it is not necessary--that I have not the slightest personal anim is in this matter. I have the pleasure of an agreeable acquaintance with several of the gentlemen in the Federal board. I have nothing but the kindliest feeling for them, and I have received from them nothing but the most courteous personal treatment. I assume that what we are all trying to do is to work out some plan by which the unfortunate and the disabled soldier may have his chance in life.
I have known of a good many cases—and I could cite some of them if I thought the committee would care to take the time where boys have been extremely provoking in their relations to the Federal board. They have applied for vocational training. They have been assigned a date for an examination or for a hearing. They have shillyshallied back and forth themselves, and they have made the task of the vocational officer just as difficult as mortal ingenuity could make it; but, gentlemen, I think that is precisely the boy we hare got to work with the hardest.
Our obligation to the disabled boy who is young and flighty, and, perhaps, a bit undependable is every whit as great as our obligation to the other and steadier type of boy. It is our duty here in the United States to overcome that boy's own handican, physically, and to overcome that boy's handicap, mentally or morally, if he has such a handicap, and we have got to go out and capture" him. It seems to me that that can be done only by using the good offices of the friendly neighbor. I understand that there has been some testi