Page images
PDF
EPUB

Then when the Economy Act removed these men from the rolls, section 26 of Public, 141 restored practically all blind cases; so this figure of 1900 is further reduced by the fact that these blind men are already back on the rolls; and as the chairman brought out, Public, 844 removed the misconduct clause in cause of death as a bar from compensation for widows. So you already have ample precedent here in this committee, for removing the bar of misconduct, if otherwise entitled, in these cases.

The CHAIRMAN. How many do you think would be taken care of by that?

Dr. SHAPIRO. It would be considerably less than 1,900. I think there were 1,800 or 1,900 on the rolls in 1923, and many of these will be rebutted at the present time by the basic law, itself, which gives the Government the right to rebut. If a man comes down with this condition within the presumptive period, or actually in service, and he gives a history of the inception of the disease, they frequently do, prior to service, or even after service, he would automatically be barred, as I see it by this bill, because it says, "service-connected, including presumptively service-connected.”

The CHAIRMAN. Let us get this right, because I mean to cure this thing.

Dr. SHAPIRO. It gives the Government the right to rebut.

The CHAIRMAN. Yes; it gives the Government the right to rebut, but it says, "providing that such misconduct did not interfere during service with the full performance of military or naval duty.”

Mr. MILLER. First, Mr. Chairman, you have to get the service connection, and many of these cases would be rebutted.

The CHAIRMAN. Alright, but if a man came within the presumptive period, then he would come under the law. We want this distinctly understood. He would come under the law, and then if you could show that this misconduct was caused, we will say, from shooting off a finger to keep out of the service, or he was running away from the service, or some disloyal act, or mutilated himself in anyway, or anything of that kind, of course, he would be barred. But we are attempting here to put these soldiers on the same plane with the Civil War and Spanish War and peace-time veterans on this proposition.

Mr. MILLER. This bill does not do it, Mr. Chairman. You are talking about service-connected cases?

The CHAIRMAN. I am talking about service-connected cases; yes.

Mr. Miller. In this bill; yes. Your laws on the old wars are practically all service laws now, and bear no relationship of importance to episodes out of the service. But in this bill, when you say, "service connected” you bar the men who cannot show service connection or service aggravation, and I think that is correct, because you do not want to give a bit better break to them than to the man suffering from other types of disabilities. They will all be rebutted, if it is proper to rebut them.

Mr. CONNERY. What about, "provided, further, that all reasonable doubts shall be resolved in favor of the claimant, the burden of proof being on the government''?

Mr. MILLER. That is merely set out in the present law, as to the other types of cases, with liberality in the Veterans' Administration, Mr. Connery.

Dr. SHAPIRO. If you give these cases any greater leeway on service connection, than you do other types of cases, that would not be good equity. I believe these cases should be rebutted, if a man does show that he incurred his venereal condition before service, or after service. I think we should confine ourselves to the man who has service connection, either directly or presumptively, when the Government can not rebut it.

The CHAIRMAN. We do not want to give these men any advantage over the other service-connected cases.

Dr. SHAPIRO. So I am bringing out that matter of the character of these 1,800, who were on the rolls, who would be rebutted if proper rebuttal is shown, so I do not think that this figure will be exceeded.

Mr. CONNERY. Suppose a man comes in and shows a venerea) disease in service?

Dr. SHAPIRO. That is different. I am going to confine-
Mr. CONNERY. Is he already under this?

Dr. SHAPIRO. Yes; he would be under it. Now, our attitude toward these venereal diseases is largely changing, changing in the medical societies, changing in the newspapers and changing in our social groups. It has been the result of a very extensive study undertaken by the major agencies and the social and public health services, for the elimination of these venereal diseases; and it has been stated that, if the veil of secrecy, and if the veil of misconduct is kept outthat is, if the general concept of what these diseases are were removed, that in one decade, we can wipe out these venereal diseases. The Scandanavian countries have done so by removing the bar of misconduct, not treating it as something secret and facing the facts as they actually exist.

It is a well-known fact that the service does have something to do with the incurrence of venereal diseases. It is fairly well recognized by medical authorities, that a man going into the service—that the possibility of his picking up a venereal disease through the usual channels, if you please, is greatly enhanced, as well as the other chances--that is, the gathering together of a large number of men, where your hygiene and sanitary conditions will not be as satisfactory as it is at home.

I distinctly remember former Senator Bingham, in testifying before the Senate Finance Committee on this question of misconduct in 1930, stating that whenever he established an aviation base overseas, before anything else was set up, prophylactic stations were the first things set up. My own service, even in peacetime, with a National Guard regiment down at Virginia Beach, show that with the first 22 men that I had with me, in my medical detachment (high-school and college men), even though I lectured to them as to the danger of venereal diseases, that 5 of these men came down with a venereal disease, showing something about such a military get up predisposing to venereal disease.

The CHAIRMAN. Do you think this bill should pass?

Dr. SHAPIRO. Yes. Other governments, I believe, have already recognized these venereal diseases as a malady of war and so accept it in their legislation.

Now, one other feature along this line deserves a lot of comment at this time.

Mr. CONNERY. Doctor Shapiro, regardless of the prophylactic stations, or anything else, the natural instinct of men in the service,

away from home, particularly in France, was that, if they got a venereal disease, they did not want anybody to know it. Those men were grouped together in the trenches with the other men, using the same towel, drinking out of the same cups, and all of those bad conditions up in the trenches, that some innocent men might get it; is not that possible, Doctor?

Dr. SHAPIRO. Yes; also Mr. Connery, as a matter of fact, the percentage of venereal diseases under the circumstances that these men served under was largely cut down because of the fact that these prophylactic stations were placed there. Dr. Moore, of Johns Hopkins, just 2 months ago, at a meeting over in Baltimore, when this subject was considered, stated that the venereal diseases were greatly cut down during Army service, because a man knew that he could get prophylactic treatment.

In other words, the Government recognizes this possibility by setting up these prophylactic stations. No man was ever penalized in this country, if he reported to a prophylactic station. A man was never court martialed if he reported to the prophylactic station, but, in fact, they were encouraged-in other words, the Government recognized and knew that the soldiers would go out and make these contacts, and they had these prophylactic stations for them, and so he was not court martialed for the thing.

The CHAIRMAN. Doctor, we will have to move on. I am going to say to you that, if you desire to extend your remarks in the record you may do so.

Dr. SHAPIRO. May I just make one further statement about certain types of cases?

The CHAIRMAN. Yes. Dr. SHAPIRO. There are a large number of men who showed up with some syphilitic effects in service, which were on parts of the body, when naturally one would believe that they were not incurred as a result of contact in the usual way. Under the present law, these men must show affirmatively when and how they picked that condition up. Now, if a man comes down with a chancre on his lip, or on his finger, that the man could have picked that up from a drinking cup or a contact with a towel, and so on, he cannot get compensation today in most instances, because of certain legal decisions that have been handed down by the Comptroller General. He must affirmatively show when and how he picked it up, and that is impossible, and many of these men are out of luck.

I know several of these men who developed a chancre on their fingers in service, whose compensation has been denied, because they could not affirmatively prove incurrence other than through sexual contact despite the location of the chancre tending to disprove venereal contact.

I will appreciate the honor of being able to extend these remarks.
The CHAIRMAN. Without objection, it may be done.
General Hines, do you have something today?

STATEMENT OF GEN. FRANK T. HINES, ADMINISTRATOR,

VETERANS' ADMINISTRATION

General HINES. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the broad field has been so well covered by the preceding speakers that I will not endeavor to address my remarks to any other than the bill which you are anxious to report out.

I might again remind the committee that, in my capacity as Administrator of Veterans’ Affairs, from the time that I first appeared up to the present time, I have only taken one position on legislation, and that is to advise the committee as best we could, what the legislation would do, to give you whatever information you needed in order to reach the conclusion that you desire to reach. In other words, I am not here to oppose legislation, or propose legislation. It is the business of the Congress to decide on what it desires in the law.

We have, however, certain restrictions in regard to the cost of legislation, which requires the clearance of bills of this character to the Director of the Bureau of the Budget, to find out if the additional cost of it is in accord with the President's financial program.

I had hoped to have before the committee my report in such form that it could be filed. However, we have not had sufficient time to clear it through the Budget; neither have I had time to determine the views of the Budget or the President upon the legislation.

Now, I wish to give you the views of the Veterans' Administration, and I will remind you that only recently, that is, within recent years, since the passage of the Economy Act, this question has been before the Congress. In other words, when the great part of the Economy Act was repealed in what is known as Public, 141, the Congress had before them the question of how far they would go in putting into effect the provisions of the World War Veterans' Act.

In that bill, they did provide, in section 26, that the service connected blind cases on the compensation rolls March 19, 1933, whether they were due to misconduct, or not, would remain on the rolls.

There are some features of the bill that I feel I should invite the committee's attention to, in order that you can get the type of legislation you want.

Reference has been made by the chairman to the benefits being paid to the veterans of other wars, and the elimination of misconduct from that legislation. You probably know that it is a fact, however, that such exception deals with the service pensions, and you are not, as I understand, dealing with service pensions in this legislation; you are dealing with service connection and, as I take it, you desire to reach the type of veteran who served well, but, because there comes in the picture of disability, either directly or indirectly, being charged to misconduct, he is barred from receiving benefits. I believe that is the type of veterans you are attempting to reach.

Now, we say, generally, when we speak of misconduct, that it all has to do with venereal diseases of some form, but that is not a fact. We had on the rolls, prior to the economy act, about 1,800 cases that we felt would come back under the bill. In my view we did not know how far or how many other cases might come in to broaden the provisions to take in the additional group not on the rolls March 19, 1933, but who would come in under the bill. So I cannot help but concur with Captain Miller that it would be unwise to make the legislation so broad that you would bring in all of the cases, either service connected or nonservice connected.

The CHAIRMAN. It does not do that, General.

General Hines. No, it does not, in this form; but there was some discussion here about it, about it being on the same level with the service connected cases.

The CHAIRMAN. No; it is confined to service connected, either actually or presumptively service connected. Now, what are those cases that you say it is not believed would come under it?

General HINES. Well, for instance, I have some examples here. First, let me place in the record, in order that the record may be clear, that of the 1,800 cases that we can spot now as cases that would come back, if this act became law, we find that there are paralysis and paresis together, approximately 1,100 cases. In that group you have, of course, that group of cases that comes from syphilis. However, you have in that group some cases that would probably come under what was termed "jake” paralysis, or men who become poisoned by drinking Jamaica ginger. Now, in the remaining 700 cases there are some that are afflicted with arthritis and other diseases resulting from venereal disease as well as some cases resulting from accidents. when the men were not in the performance of duty. This last group I believe merits first consideration.

For instance, here is a case, according to the information obtained from the War Department, of this veteran who entered the service September 9, 1917, was discharged December 4, 1917, and while returning to camp on October 9, 1917, while on a pass, he tried to catch a freight train, or catch a ride on a freight train, and in attempting to climb on the moving train he fell between the wheels. His left foot was cut off by the train, and the soldier was returned to camp on November 22. His condition was found not in line of duty. This is the finding by the War Department. Amputation of the left leg took place.

Under the provisions of the law in effect prior to March 20, 1933, which was the Economy Act, this man was in receipt of compensation commensurate with permanent partial 60 percent rating. Under the provisions of the laws in effect since March 20, 1933, the veteran has, at one time, received compensation.

We have two terms used in the law: One, misconduct, and one, willful misconduct. “Misconduct” of course is the broader of the terms and covers most cases. The term "willful misconduct" used in another section of the law would be a more liberal provision in the direction of the veteran.

May I cite another case?

The CHAIRMAN. General, do you not think that, if that man had been riding a horse going back to the Army, trying to get back to his command, if the horse had thrown him and broke his leg-do you not think he would have been taken care of?

« PreviousContinue »