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Senator REED. Does this bill now pending provide specific locations for these hospitals?
Mr. KIRBY. No, sir. The bill generally is for about 20,000 beds, and the hearings now are in order that subcommittee, headed by Mrs. Rogers, of Massachusetts, should indicate to the Federal board generally the areas in which they should be located.
Senator Bingham. You spoke of hearings to-day. The hearings before the subcommittee to-day are on a special bill introduced by Congressman Tilson to increase the number of beds in the new hospital in Connecticut, and not in connection with any general bill.
Senator REED. I suppose I am as bad an offender as anybody, because I have introduced specific bills for hospitals in Pennsylvania, but it does seem to me that we would be doing better for the veterans if we followed the example of the rivers and harbors bill, by appropriating a lump sum and letting the Federal board locate the hospitals where they are needed.
Mr. Kirby. That is exactly the principle we follow, Senator, and the bills have been introduced over there without drawing lines in particular States. For instance, the State of Nevada is among those that want hospitals. We know that the proper way to handle hospitalization is to get an outline of the United States, forget all State lines, and shade that map according to the density of the disabled military population, and place those hospitals, as nearly as practicable, in the centers of that disabled military population. Taking specifically your own State, we just got that hospital in Easton, Pa., and you have asked for one in the West. You justified that, not because of the State lines of Pennsylvania, but because of the density of the disabled military population. That is the only principle we have adhered to before committees.
Senator Harrison. Without question, legislation dealing with that subject ought to be passed at this Congress.
Mr. KIRBY. Absolutely. We would go this far, Senator. Early this session, regardless of the bonus, regardless of amendments to the World War veterans act, or anything else concerning the disabled, we think that priority should be given to hospital construction. We like to help the well man, or the half-sick man, but we want the sick man taken off the streets.
Senator HARRISON. Only two years ago, I think it was, we passed a bill carrying approximately $14,000,000. I know they constiucted 3 or 4 new hospitals, 1 in your State, 1 in Utah, and 1 in West Virginia, I believe.
Senator WATSON. Yes.
Senator HARRISON. If more are needed, they ought to be provided.
Senator Watson. There is no doubt about that. I think we all agree on that.
Senator HARRISON. And if they ought to be enlarged, that ought to be taken care of.
Mr. Kirby. We favor the extension of existing facilities rather than the establishment of smaller units all over the country, as an administrative proposition. For example, if Senator Reed wanted another hospital in Pennsylvania for tuberculosis, I think our organization would favor the extension of Aspinwall rather than the purchase of another site.
Senator REED. I have introduced a bill for the extension of Aspinwall.
Senator HARRISON. Why has not the committee taken up that proposition?
Senator REED. We are waiting for this bill to go through the House.
Senator Harrison. We ought to do something ourselves to speed up the House.
Senator BINGHAM. This is one of the things that ought to be done very promptly, not only because of the fact that there are hundreds of veterans who can not be hospitalized at the present time, but also because it would aid the unemployment situation. There is very little building going on normally, and there are more carpenters, masons, and painters out of work than any other one class.
Senator HARRISON. And there ought not to be any controversy about it that would delay that kind of legislation.
Senator BINGHAM. No.
Mr. KIRBY. I think Senator Bingham's State shows that as well as any other State. The Newington Hospital, one of the recently authorized hospitals, is opening up, and before they can get it ready, they need more room.
Senator Bingham. There is a waiting list already, and the hospital is not opened yet.
Mr. Kirby. It can draw from both the Boston area and the metropolitan area of New York, and still you can justify a hospital, Senator, for your State alone.
Senator BingHAM. I would like to ask the witness whether he is familiar with the plan adopted by the State of Connecticut with regard to disabled veterans? You will remember that shortly after the war there was an effort made in many States, including Connecticut, to get a bonus paid to all veterans, irrespective of need and irrespective of disability. This was opposed, and in its place a measure was adopted providing for an endowment fund to be raised by the State, the income to be devoted to disabled veterans and their families and needy dependents. There has not been any complaint about red tape with regard to the proving of disability or need, and the general impression among the veterans in Connecticut to-day is that they are much better off with the income from that fund being applied than they would have been had their original request for a cash bonus payment been adopted.
Mr. Kirby. It so happens, Senator, that I am familiar with that. Frank Butterworth and Major Bannigan and others had that, and they did not handle it as a governmental red tape proposition. Common sense and humanity dominated the thing, and I think it has done a wonderful amount of good up there. It was a fund for immediate relief. There was no red tape, as far as they could eliminate it.
Senator Bingham. If we could make the relief measures now before us something in the nature of relief payments to the disabled and the needy, I think that that could be done without any kind of an economic disturbance, which must, in the long run, be to the disadvantage of all veterans.
Mr. Kirby. The only thing, Senator, is that invariably when you go into the matter of need you are in a fog, and you have delay.
The demand in this particular instance is national, just the same as it affected Connecticut as a State immediately after the war. If you are going out here and investigate to find out whether a man has a second suit of clothes, or whether his wife has an organ or a radio set, and build up a big machine like that, you are going to save a few dollars, but you are going to delay meeting a need that is absolutely distressful.
Senator BINGHAM. Would it require so much investigation? As I recollect it, our law with regard to needy veterans and their dependents places the administration in the hands of the American Legion, and the Disabled Veterans, who are familiar with all the
Their organizations are now in existence. It would not take a lot of red tape and a lot of investigation by Federal agents from Washington to secure that information.
Mr. Kirby. In your particular State, Senator, being particularly familiar with it, even though every State has a different arrangement, you will recall that outside of Hartford, you have that Meehan Camp, a summer camp maintained by the citizens of Connecticut generally, and particularly in Hartford, that is extremely useful. The men go there in the summer time. If it were not for that, they would have no opportunity at all for a vacation, and in addition to pleasure, it is rated as good medicine.
Senator BINGHAM. What I am trying to do is to provide for the needy and destitute veteran without upsetting the economic life of the country. I was inclined to be in favor of the bill for the immediate payment until my attention was called yesterday by the Treasury Department to the fact that to float any one of these enormous loans would so upset the economic balance of the country that it would eventually be to the disadvantage of the veteran.
Senator WATSON. Let us not argue that now.
Senator HARRISON. Mr. Chairman, I want to suggest--and I will make a motion that immediately at the close of this hearing, when we have considered this piece of legislation, we proceed with the hearings on this hospitlization proposition, irrespective of what the House does.
Senator BINGHAM. I would like to see that done.
Mr. Kirby. I can go on record right now as saying that it meets absolutely with the support of our organization. We have felt, from the start, that while the bonus is important, and the amendments to the act are important, this hospitalization is the most imperatively needed thing surrounding the veterans.
Senator Watson. My understanding is that the Veterans’ Bureau is now making a survey of the whole United States in order to determine where those hospitals can be most advantageously located.
Senator REED. Why do we need to wait for that?
Senator Watson. At the present time they are opposing individual hospital bills, because when they make the survey they may not be needed.
Senator HARRISON. The trouble is that we have only about 35 days remaining of this session. I think we ought to go into it immediately, and if they are not ready to present their findings, we can be getting the thing together and getting ready.
Senator Couzens. Let us stay here after we finish the job. What is the objection to that?
Senator Watson. There are a lot of very serious objections.
Senator Watson. It is unanimous, and we will be governed accordingly.
Senator BARKLEY. These bills that are under consideration are largely divided into two classes, those which provide for a straight payment of the face value and those which do not. Among the first class you mentioned the Brookhart-Patman bill. I introduced a bill in January of last year of the same sort, and others have been introduced. None of those bills make any mention of the $60 which was paid at the end of the war, but in your testimony you mentioned awhile ago something about paying the face value regardless of the $60. I would like to understand what you mean by that.
Mr. Kirby. I do not think, Senator, you quite understood me. I said that in the Brookhart-Patman bill there was a provision to pay that. As Mr. Patman explained a while ago, he feels that that $60 should not have been deducted from any of the men, but they should have had that anyway.
Senator BARKLEY. In other words, in addition to paying the face value, you want to add $60 to the face value of the certificates?
Mr. KIRBY. We would favor that, because that $60 was money given through no particular choice of Congress, but you had the proposition of the demobilization of more than 4,000,000 men without any clothes to wear. They gave them $60 on the theory that they could get themselves outfitted. My recollection of the prices of clothing at that time is that it was entirely inadequate, and we feel that, having taken the men out of their regular civilian clothes and they having left their clothes go, Congress certainly had an obligation to put them back in their regular clothes,
Senator REED. I would like to confirm that, as one of those who got the $60. The theory on which that was given was entirely that the men had no civilian clothes left.
Mr. Kirby. It was literally true.
Senator REED. It was a clothing allowance. It was not a bonus, or an adjustment of pay.
Mr. KIRBY. Still, when it came to the so-called Federal bonus, there was a deduction for the $60.
Another feature of that, that shows the absurdity of it, is that an officer has to buy his clothes, and when they came to give that back to the men in the ranks, they also gave $60 to the officers up to the rank of major general, who were not compelled to buy their uniforms, as were the men in the ranks.
Senator BINGHAM. You do not mean just that, do you? Are the men in the ranks compelled to buy their uniforms?
Mr. KIRBY. No. The men in the ranks were not compelled to buy their clothes, but the officers had to feed themselves and had to buy their clothes. It was my mistake, Senator.
Senator WATSON. Congressman Connery.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM P. CONNERY, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MASSACHUSETTS
Mr. CONNERY. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, first of all, I am a legionnaire, and I was at that Boston Convention, not as a delegate, but I went along with Congressmen Patman and Rankin to get this thing before the convention.
Mr. Burke, of the Victory Post of the Legion here in Washington, tells me that Mr. Smith, of the District of Columbia Legion, was at this meeting last Sunday, and that the intention of the Legion, regardless of what that language says in the resolution, was to go on record in favor of the payment of the adjusted certificates at their face value.
Senator Watson. Then, why did they not say so? Mr. Connery. I would like to have Mr. Burke, with the permission of the chairman, tell us just why.
Mr. BURKE. My name is Raymond A. Burke. I am president of the Victory Post Drum Corps, Washington, D. C. Our chairman, John Lewis Smith, after his return from this last council Sunday
Senator BINGHAM. Were you at the meeting? Were you at Indianapolis?
Mr. BURKE. No, sir.
Mr. BURKE. These are facts presented to our post after this council meeting.
I was at the executive committee meeting of the Department of the District of Columbia when John Lewis Smith, our executive committeeman, was instructed to go to Indianapolis and vote for the full payment of this certificate, as due in 1945. Upon his return he sent a written statement to our post, which was read at our meeting last Tuesday night, saying that ne, as one of the members, helped to get this proposition over, and it was for the full payment of this adjusted compensation, as due in 1945.
Senator Watson. Did he explain then why they did not say so?
Mr. CONNERY. There was a national committeeman from every State.
Mr. BURKE. That was the intention of this department, and that was the intention of our executive committeeman, and he was one of the men who were instrumental in getting this over.
Mr. Connery. I just wanted to bring that out.
Regardless of what the Legion did at its executive committee meeting last Sunday, you Senator have been getting letters from all over the United States. I am a legionnaire, and I fought for this and have been fighting for it for a long time. I know that regardless of what that executive committee did, the rank and file of the American Legion in the United States wants this adjusted compensation paid in cash, to the face value of the certificates. They do not want any half-way measures about it.