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Colonel Taylor. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, Capt. Watson Miller and Dr. Shapiro will be here within 10 or 15 minutes, at which time I would like to present them, to say something on the bill which you are going to consider this morning, H. R. 1538.
We endorse it just as you have presented it, Mr. Chairman. As you expressed the thing in a few short words, it has been before the committee and been before the Congress and been before the veterans' organizations for years, so we all know what it means.
However, Mr. Chairman, we would like to know when the hearings are to be held on the widows' and orphans' bill, H. R. 1539? I understood that we were to hold hearings on that bill this morning, but probably we will not reach that today.
The CHAIRMAN. We will not reach that today, I will say, Colonel, but I will let you know.
Colonel TAYLOR. Then H. R. 4400, which is to extend the 5-year term insurance
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I am going to appoint a subcommittee on that.
Colonel TAYLOR. When do you think we will have hearings on that?
The CHAIRMAN. I am going to appoint as the chairman of that subcommittee the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Griswold, and let him call the hearings, and you can confer with him at any time. So I will appoint him chairman, and I will appoint the other members to serve on it with him.
Colonel TAYLOR. And you will decide the date when you will hold the hearings?
The CHAIRMAN. We will decide right here and let you know.
Colonel TAYLOR. All right, as soon as Captain Miller and Dr. Shapiro, who, as you know, are thoroughly conversant with the misconduct bill- after the other organizations have spoken, I would like to suggest you hear them.
The CHAIRMAN. All right, Colonel, suppose we proceed with this introduction, and then hear from them later on.
Colonel TAYLOR. All right.
Captain KIRBY. Mr. Chairman, in regard to the bill for the socalled misconduct, that is referred to in H. R. 1538, which is a general bill covering our legislative program, I assume later on there will be technical discussion of the various phases of this bill, so we will not take up the time just now. However, we have here this morning, to attend before the committee, the national commander of the Disabled American Veterans, Judge M. Froome Barbour of Cincinnati, who served overseas in the air service, and who, through the years, has followed the problem. My understanding is that Commander Barbour has a brief statement, generally outlining our position.
The CHAIRMAN. Commander Barbour, we are glad to have you here this morning.
STATEMENT OF M. FROOME BARBOUR, NATIONAL COMMANDER,
DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS
Mr. BARBOUR. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, anticipating the desire of the committee to terminate these remarks as briefly as possible, I reduced them to writing, and with your permis
sion I would like to make this statement on behalf of the Disabled American Veterans.
I am grateful for the invitation to appear here today and meet the members of this distinguished committee, whose deliberations are of such vital importance to the World War men and their dependents. It is not my intention to attempt to discuss in detail our legislative program, which is covered by the bill H. R. 1537, introduced by your chairman. This program was adopted at our national convention, July 1936, after careful deliberation and with due consideration of the knowledge gained through 15 years of study of, and application to, the problems of the World War disabled. These proposals will be fully explained by our national legislative chairman, Captain Kirby, who has so often appeared before you and collaborated and cooperated with you in your endeavor to solve the problem of the war's disabled.
It is very gratifying to me that our brother organizations of World War veterans, the American Legion and the V. F. W., after independent study reached conclusions that are in accord with ours. This committee understands that the whole program of the Disabled American Veterans concerns the protection and advancement of proper care of those actually disabled in the war and their dependents. Generally, we feel that there should be more liberal provisions for the dependent parents, wives, and children, the widows and orphans, of the service-connected class. We submit that when a veteran is in fact unemployable, because of an admittedly service-connected disability, he should be rated permanently and totally disabled.
We are convinced that Congress should provide for steady extension of hospital facilities with sites according to military population rather than State lines. We believe there has been too strenuous administration in cases of alleged misconduct through which veterans are being deprived the benefits to which otherwise they are entitled.
We are convinced that the presumptive benefits granted under the provisions of section 200 of the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended, were not too liberal and recall that committees of the Congress, with the benefit of the testimony of many experts, made a very careful study of the problem before recommending the enactment of the section.
We advocate reduction on the percentage requirement in the matter of payments to widows and children of men in the service-connected group, who die from causes other than the service-connected disability. In our opinion, the present restrictions in administering the Disabled Emergency Officer's Act are unreasonable and entirely too severe.
We favor early legislation for the so-called “double amputation cases”, who constitute some of our worse battle casualties so that they continue to receive insurance payments, which are now in jeopardy through court decisions.
We recommend that this committee attain authority of Congress so that subcommittees may between sessions visit Veterans' Administration facilities to study the conditions in the institutions and be intimately informed on any reforms that may be needed.
The aforegoing are merely a few statements of some of the principles which the D. A. V. urges to be corrected in the law. To other committees must be presented other items on our legislative program.
Again may I state that I am appreciative of the opportunity to meet with this committee and assure you of the fullest cooperation of the D. A. V. in your task. .
I am very appreciate of having the privilege of appearing before this committee and saying "hello”, and coming to know you, and I hope I can work with you throughout the year. Anything that our organization has in the way of information that we can give you, or in the way of cooperation, is yours to command.
The CHAIRMAN. You say you favor this bill to repeal this misconduct clause?
Mr. BARBOUR. We do, after a careful study of the actual cases.
The CHAIRMAN. Thank you. We are very glad to have had you present, Commander.
Mrs. ROGERS. May I ask a question, Mr. Chairman?
Mrs. Rogers. How many misconduct cases are there, do you think? Have you any figures on that?
Mr. BARBOUR. I would say from the information we have, there is about 19,000, somewhere between 18,000 and 20,000.
The CHAIRMAN. May I say, we can get a statement from the Veterans' Administration, because they are checking that up for us
Mrs. Rogers. How many hospital beds do you need?
Mr. BARBOUR. That is a matter that is hard to answer, hard to say about, at this time.
Captain KIRBY. I would say the proportion of the need of hospital beds is going to be dependent on Congress, what it does. In other words, if you clarify the law and allow these non-service-connected cases to be hospitalized as a right, instead of permissive, you are going to build more beds. We have now in the course of construction, my recollection is, around 12,000 beds. There are some under construction and some projected under the appropriation now available, but Congress has got to decide whether they are going to hospitalize all non-service-connected cases as estimated under the program for future construction.
Mrs. ROGERS. You do not feel there is need for more diagnostic centers?
Captain Kirby. The question of diagnostic centers is the question whether you would outdo it, or not. In other words, I think you can establish diagnostic centers comparable to the centers, to the diagnostic centers we now have at Mount Alto, San Francisco, and Chicago, which might be extended in such a way that we would not have to travel the greater distances. I have in mind, for instance, New Orleans as being far removed from any center.
Mrs. ROGERS. Boston needs one very much.
Captain Kirby. Boston is a heavy center of military population. It would not be alone Boston, but all of New England. Those cases are now coming to Mount Alto.
Mrs. ROGERS. Do you plan to have a hearing on that?
The Chairman. We will take that up later. We will go into that question at a later date.
Now, I recognize the representatives of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Colonel Rice, you may present your national commander, if he is with you.
Mr. Rice. Mr. Chairman, our national commander in chief was unable to be here this morning:
The CHAIRMAN. Will you give the reporter your full name and title, Colonel ?
STATEMENT OF MILLARD W. RICE, LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTA
TIVE, VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS
Mr. RicE. Again, I must remind the chairman, since he brings the subject up, that I have no military title. I was a buck private in the Marine Corps. The chairman seems to be forgetful and persistently calls me "Colonel."
Our commander in chief was unable to be here, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, because, unfortunately, he had the misfortune of breaking his kneecap some time ago and has been laid up for pretty much of the time and, therefore, was much delayed in making his tours through the various parts of the country to visit the various units of the V. F. W., which he is now doing. Therefore, it was absolutely impossible for him to be here today. He regrets that it was not possible.
The V. È. W. is interested in bringing this about as nearly as it can be done, or rather in making the approach to the uniformity of benefits for the veterans. Not absolute uniformity because we do not propose that there should be any one uniform omnibus bill to bring it about, but we believe the approach should be made toward cutting out the inequalities that we find existing in the law.
One of the outstanding inequalities, we believe, is that brought up by the chairman, which prevents the payment of compensation to those men suffering with the so-called misconduct disabilities. We are certainly in favor of the enactment of remedial legislation, whether it be as a part of H. R. 1959, whether it be H. R. 3019, or H. R. 1538. There are many other inequalities that we would like to see straightened out in the law, for example
The CHAIRMAN. Those three bills you mentioned, Mr. Rice, all reach the same conclusion on this one proposition.
Mr. Rice. Yes; section 4 of 1539 deals specifically with the so-called misconduct cases, and the other two bills specifically only with that subject.
There are, however, many additional inequalities which we believe ought to be taken up; and I know it is desirable to make a general statement concerning the same, with the hope that the committee will be disposed to hear our representatives in more detail at a later date.
For example, we believe that the law should be changed so as to provide 100 percent of compensation, to which they might be otherwise entitled, to those men suffering from the so-called presumptive disabilities. We believe that a man receiving compensation on the basis of the permanent rate should be entitled to dependency allowance in the same way that the man receives compensation on the basis of the temporary rating.
We believe that dependency allowances should be paid to the dependents of disappeared, incompetent veterans. That is not now possible. We believe that there should be a statutory award of $10 per month to those who were wounded, gassed, or disabled by direct combat with the enemy, in addition to the compensation to which they might otherwise be entitled.
We believe that the sick, hospitalized veterans should receive full payment of compensation, without any deduction because of the compensation; and that should also apply as to those who are incompetent, so far as the limitations of estate are concerned and we are willing that the estate should go up to $1,500, and then the payments discontinue until it gets down to $500, but that, in between those amounts, full payment of the compensation to which a man might otherwise be entitled should be accorded to him.
We believe that the disability allowances to those that suffer with permanent non-service-connected disabilities should be increased from $30 to at least $40 a month. They are now getting $30 a month, which is grossly inadequate, and much less than they would get in the form of relief. Even $40 is a very conservative request. We might certainly be warranted in requesting even twice as much as they are now receiving, that is $60 a month; and, therefore, request that it be increased from $30 to $40, which we believe is very conservative.
There are now about 36,000 men rated as permanently and totally disabled, and whether they are permanently and totally disabled by reason of disabilities or age makes no difference, really, because they are not able to earn anything, and $30 a month is grossly insufficient with which to take care of them now.
We believe that there should be the same amount of compensation payable on the same bais for those men who enlisted November 11, or reenlisted after November 11, 1918, and served in the armed forces, overseas, or in Russia, the same as is payable to the World War veterans.
There should not be two different bases. They should not be classified as the so-called peacetime veterans.
We also believe that some provision should be made for the dependents of veterans who are hospitalized for non-service-connected disabilities, when the veteran is destitute; that some provision should be made for the dependents during such period of hospitalization.
As to the insurance phase of the law, we believe that there should be a renewal of the opportunity for veterans to take out the so-called 5-year level premium term policy for another 5-year period, which is one of the bills mentioned by the chairman, which is incorporated in H. R. 1960 and also in H. R. 4400 and H. R. 3017.
In asking the other provisions relative to insurance, we believe they certainly warrant reopening the opportunity for bringing insurance suits on the part of those men who did not have a reasonable opportunity to bring their suits, or where there was some technical difficulty relative to the question of the receipt of denial by the Veterans' Administration upon a certain date.
Also that there should be the opportunity to all men in the active military services to take out Government insurance policies, even after the expiration of the first 120 days. That, as a matter of fact, would prove beneficial to the entire Government-insurance fund; and it would not prove more expensive, but would rather build up that fund.
As much important as anything else, we believe there ought to be an extension of the widows and orphans' pensions to include the need