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General Hines. I think it would, Senator. It depends on other factors, too. We have noticed that the time of the year unemployment and all these factors come into our problem of hospitalization.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Would not the enactment of this provision lead at once to the construction of additional hospitals? Would it not necessitate it?
General HINES. It certainly would.
Senator Bingham. General, while we are on this question—if Colonel Taylor will be so kind-as I understand, the present number of beds in the hospitals is sufficient to care for the service-connected cases.
General HINES. More than that.
Senator BINGHAM. More than that, because 44 per cent of the beds in the hospitals now are occupied by nonservice-connected cases?
General HINES. Certainly.
Senator Bingham. So that no veteran with a service-connected disability is obliged to wait at all?
General Hines. In some localities, at certain times of the year, we have had men waiting for a certain period; but we can hospitalize them in contract institutions. Many of them wait through preference to get into our own hospitals, and make up a small waiting list in certain localities. The present authorized construction which is going on, which will add approximately 10,000 additional beds, will cover all of those cases.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. Will that make the total 40,000? General HINES. Yes, sir.
Senator Bingham. And that will make possible, of course, the taking care of the 3,500 that are now on the waiting list?
General HINES. We feel that it will; but I might point out to the committee that the Congress specifically has not gone on record as constructing for the noncompensable cases. While the law authorizes and directs their hospitalization, the progarms of construction so far have been based upon construction for service-connected cases as they now exist, or prospective load that may develop in the future.
Senator Watson. Will not these new hospitals include all of them? General HINES. We will take them all in when beds are built.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In your absence, Senator, General Hines testified that ultimately it was his opinion that we would have to have accommodations for 80,000 in the hospitals.
The CHAIRMAN. Proceed.
Someo: LA FOLLETTE. Excuse me, Senator Walsh. Does that estimate include the nonservice-connected cases?
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Yes.
General Hines. Yes; that does, Senator. That is the peak, which we estimate will be reached in 1965.
Senator BINGHAM. General, as I recollect, you stated that you were advised by a board of medical experts who studied the question that the number of beds needed would be greater than that.
General HINES. Greater than that. They estimated 126,000 men at the peak; but we have based our curve upon our experience up to date, and we feel safe in following it. It certainly will fall somewhere between 86,000 and 126,000.
Mr. TAYLOR. Those points which I have discussed with this committee, Mr. Chairman, I have fixed up in the form of a brief which I wish to leave with each Senator; but there is one other question that I want to take up now, which was touched upon the other day.
The bill as it passed says:
Provided, That conpensation shall not be denied any applicant therefor by reason of the injury, disease, aggravation, or recurrence having been caused by his own willful misconduct.
That amendment was put in by Mr. Cochran. It seemed to be pointed out that under "willful misconduct” a man who escaped from a military prison might come under this; an S. I. W. (selfinflicted wound) might come under this.
Gentlemen, that is not so. The term "willful misconduct" is a military term. It has been applied, ever since we have had a military establishment, to one thing-social diseases.
It is a strange thing that the man who is so unfortunate-and I am not talking about peace times; I am talking about war times—that the man who is so unfortunate as to suffer a disease for this infraction of the moral law is the man who is punished not for the commission of the infraction itself, nor for any intercourse he might have with women; that has nothing to do with it. He is not punished for that. He is punished if he is unfortunate enough to have suffered some disease from it. They call it "willful misconduct."
Now, he might have caught a disease from some other infraction. Going up in the line, he might not have taken his blankets with him. He might have been told to leave them behind. He might not have had his slicker. He might have caught pneumonia from that, , because back of this originally was the intention to keep a man physically fit to perform the highest type of military service in an engagement. That is why that is in the law-so that the soldier, when it comes time for him to go into battle, will be in a position to do his best-yet he might have caught some disease from some other cause, misconduct but not willful misconduct, because “willful misconduct" is a military term applied to social diseases.
I do not know how many men there are affected by this; not very many, because you gentlemen of this committee have recognized that a man who is totally blind or bed-ridden from a social disease draws compensation. I say to you that when this Government takes a man into the Military Establishment for the purpose of carrying on a war, it guarantees that man against any disease, whether that disease is contracted in this infraction of the moral law or not.
I know it meets with the objection of some people; but this is only one of the moral laws. A soldier can steal to get along; he can kill anybody; he can break any one of the ten commandments he wants to break; but if he breaks this one, and gets caught in it; if he unfortunate—and they recognize it, for they established prophylactic stations everywhere throughout the A. E. F. and in the United States-if he unfortunate, and gets caught at it, he and his dependents must suffer.
The CHAIRMAN. That has been carried in every pension law from the very first up to the present time, and I think it is perfectly right that it should be.
Mr. Taylor. I am sorry that I have to disagree with the chairman.
Senator BINGHAM. Colonel, you mentioned the one thing which it seems to me puts a little different aspect on the matter from that which your plea would show, and that is the fact that prophylactic stations were established everywhere.
I remember on a visit to the front in July, 1918, going through Belleau Wood a few hours after the soldiers had gone forward, and the bodies had been carried from the battle field, that the very efficient officers and men of the Sanitary Corps or Medical Corps were establishing prophylactic stations. It was in the orders that these prophylactic stations should be used. It is not because the soldier breaks the moral code; it is not because he has been unlucky in breaking it, as you expressed it, that he suffers. In the great majority of cases, certainly more than 90 per cent of the cases, it is because he failed to carry out the orders in regard to the use of prophylactics which were provided by his Government.
You state that it is the duty of his Government to guarantee him against disease, and to take care of him if he gets disease. On the basis of that it is the business of the man to carry out the orders. Now, where a soldier is suffering due to the fact that he was careless about the use of prophylactics, or he disobeyed orders, or he was ashamed to go to a prophylactic station, it seems to me the argument should be based on a little different basis from that which you have given.
As you know, in the French Army there were no prophylactic stations. The French did not require their men to go to the prophylactic stations; and you might say that a French soldier suffering from any disease, the victim of his own willful misconduct, ought to be compensated just the same as if he had acquired pneumonia at the front, or something of that kind. In our Army, with all the provisions that we made for it, it does seem to me that the thing is on a different basis.
Mr. Taylor. Senator, I am glad you brought that out.
When they established those prophylactic stations, they notified the men that they should report to the prophylactic stations, and that that would not be used against them; whereas, as a matter of fact, when men were tried by court for having some venereal disease, the first thing that they produced to prove it was the record of the man's appearance before the prophylactic station; and what happened? After that they did not go to the prophylactic stations.
Senator BinghAM. Well, Colonel, that may have been true of an outfit with which you were connected. I happened to be obliged to sit on a good many boards that were trying these cases.
Mr. Taylor. I acted as prosecuting attorney at Ehrenbreitstein, and that is what they always brought in to me:
Here are all the records of the man appearing before the prophylactic station to help you prove that he has this venereal disease as the result of his own willful misconduct. F Senator BINGHAM. I sat on a good many boards that tried the cases of aviators who, under the orders, had to be taken off flying and sent back for ground duty, and not permitted to fly, because they had acquired a venereal disease; and in not a single one of those cases was the record of the aviator's attendance at a prophylactic station, or the reverse, ever brought up. The only records that were needed, the only records that were produced, were the testimony of the doctor in the case that the reaction was so and so.
Mr. Taylor. Well, what I want to do, Senator, is this: I want to establish the fact that the term "willful misconduct" is a military term, and that it goes to the efficiency of the soldier to perform military duty, and that he might have some other disease contracted by his negligence which would have the same result; and that if this term “willful misconduct" as it is in the amendment now would include S. I. W. or deserted men, or men fleeing from prison, then it should be changed simply to cover those men who have suffered this type of disease—I do not know how many are affected by itso that their dependents, their wives and children, should not be obliged to suffer the disgrace and the misfortune that came out of the soldier's military willful misconduct.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. General Hines, is the term “willful misconduct" interpreted by the Veterans' Bureau to mean anything else than a social disease?
General Hines. Yes, sir; it is interpreted in the way I stated to the committee, according to the legal division of the bureau and also the legal division of the War Department.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. So, if the amendment is to be applied to social diseases, there ought to be a change in the language?
General Hines. There will have to be a change, and it will have to be specified. As the bill now stands, it is a very broad provision.
Mr. Taylor. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
THE AMERICAN LEGION'S STATEMENT ON H. R. 10381 The following testimony was delivered before the Finance Committee of the Senate on May 8, 1930, by John Thomas Taylor, vice chairman, National Legislative Committee, the American Legion, in support of the legion's proposals to amend H. R. 10381, the Johnson bill, as passed by the House of Representatives and now pending before the Finance Committee.
Section numbers referred to apply to sections of the World War veterans' act. It must be stated, in this connection, that the Johnson bill, as passed by the House, contained 47 amendments to the World War veterans' act. The legion desires that the Finance Committee approve the 43 amendments not mentioned in this testimony, and in addition thereto, follow the action suggested by the legion in connection with the amendments enumerated below.
The first section of H. R. 10381, as reported to the House by the World War veterans' committee on March 10, amended section 5 of the World War veterans' act, to prohibit the Comptroller General from disallowing payments upon disagreement with the Director of the Veterans' Bureau on matters of law or fact involved in the interpretation or application of the World War veterans' act.
This amendment would not interfere, upon a pre-audit or post-audit, with the right of the Comptroller General to disallow expenditures by disbursing officers, not in conformity with the decisions of the director. This amendment by the Veterans' Committee of the House intended that the director shall have the power to review any decision of the Comptroller General heretofore rendered, and, notwithstanding such decision, to pay the claim affected thereby, if he believes it to be payable.
The House Representatives voted to eliminate this Veterans' Committee amendment from the bill, and so it is not contained in H. R. 10381, now before the Finance Committee.
The legion asks that the Finance Committee restore this amendment to the bill, so that the comptroller will be precluded from rendering decisions of law or fact in disagreement with those of the director, who, under the World War veterans' act, has been empowered to render these decisions.
The legion for many years has asked that the comptroller be prevented from making decisions of law and fact in connection with compensation awards. One of the chief reasons for this has been that the comptroller in many instances has rendered impotent the laws which the Congress has, after prolonged study, enacted for the relief of veterans. In some instances it has been necessary for the Congress to reenact measures two and three times in order to overcome the comptroller's decisions which had prevented the Congress from achieving the ends it had desired. The legion has not asked that the Comptroller General's right for audit be in any way restricted, but does ask that the director be allowed to interpret the laws which the Congress has enacted for the relief of veterans, in the manner which the Congress itself intended the laws to be administered, and we believe that this result would be accomplished in the amendment proposed by the Veterans' Committee of the House.
The Director of the Veterans' Bureau on May 5 testified concerning two of the amendments proposed in H. R. 10381 which have to do with decisions of the comptroller.
The first amendment proposed was to subdivision 7 of section 202, which would override the comptroller's decision in connection with the $50 a month arrestedtuberculosis award. The director asked that this proposed amendment be excluded from the Finance Committee's bill, as he evidently concurred in the comptroller's decision which the amendment asks to correct.
The second amendment was that proposed to section 210 of the act, whereby a decision of the director had been overruled by both the comptroller and the Attorney General. The director approved this amendment, which would override the comptroller's decision, because the amendment would save the Government $42,000,000.
From the foregoing it is seen that the director does not always approve the comptroller's decisions, nor do decisions of the comptroller always tend to save money for the Government.
So far as the legion is concerned, we concur with the director that the amendment to section 210 should be enacted, but we disagree with his opposition to the amendment to subdividsion 7 of section 202, which overrides the comptroller's decision in connection with the arrested-tuberculosis award.
Members of the Finance Committee may recall that this decision of the comptroller rescinded benefits which had been granted to hundreds of veterans. It has been the legion's purpose to have these benefits restored to these veterans, but it has not been our purpose to broaden this section so as to allow other classes of veterans, outside of those specifically desired by the Congress to benefit from this law, to come within the provisions of the new amendment.
There is great interest in this amendment in the Western States, where friends of hundreds of victims of tuberculosis, whose cases have become arrested, are greatly interested in seeing that these disabled veterans have thier rights restored. The feeling has run high on this particular decision, and the legion strongly urges the Finance Committee to retain this amendment in such form as will restore the rights to those victims of tuberculosis whose payments have been interrupted by the comptroller's decision.
The House provided in its amendments to section 19 of the act that the period of time under which suits may be brought upon insurance contracts be extended until one year following the approval of this amendatory act. Director Hines in his testimony opposed this amendment.
The legion hopes that the Finance Committee will see fit to include this amendment in its bill, which will allow the continuance of suits on insurance contracts. The legion does not believe that a statute of limitations should be erected against the courts deciding upon a question of whether justice has been accorded a disabled veteran under the law, and for this reason alone would request the extension of the time of limitations under which suits may be brought on insurance contracts. Another matter to consider in this connection is that the insurance was bought and paid for by the veteran, and that in this contractural relation he should not have his rights curtailed, through the setting of an arbitrary date of limitation, after which the question of the right to payment may not be considered by the courts of the land.
The legion asks for the substitution of the presumptive features of section 200 of its own bill, H. R. 8133, for the presumptive features of section 200 of the Johnson bill, H. R. 10381, as passed by the House of Representatives.