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third class, United States Navy, shall be held and considered to have been honorably discharged from the naval service of the United States as a fireman, third class, on April 25, 1918.
Provided that no compensation, bonuses, or other benefits, except mileage to which Tierney would have been entitled at the time of discharge, and 4 months' active service pay, and adjusted compensation benefits shall be held to accrue to Austin L. Tierney for any period prior to its passage.
I interpret that to mean that they do not want to make it retroactive except as to payment due for his wages, adjusted-service compensation, and 4 months' active service pay while on duty, and he will not get retroactive benefits for disability, but he will be eligible for disability payments from here on in.
The CLERK. That is right, after the passage of the act.
Mr. Bradley. I think that is fair. It is my experience that if the Veterans' Administration decides these things in favor of a man it is pretty safe to rely on their judgment because they do not do it promiscuously.
Mr. HEIDINGER. He will not get back benefits?
The CLERK. They have already passed a private bill giving him an honorable discharge, and this bill sets out the amount he will be entitled to recover.
Mr. Grant. I move that the bill be favorably reported with the amendment.
(The motion was carried.)
Mr. BRADLEY. The bill will be favorably reported with the amendment.
(Thereupon the committee proceeded to the consideration of other business.)
HEARING ON H. R. 3247, FOR THE RELIEF OF JOSEPH LANGHORNE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON NAVAL AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C., Wednesday, February 16, 1944. The subcommittee met at 10:30 a. m., pursuant to notice, the Honorable Michael J. Bradley presiding, for consideration of H. R. 3247, which is as follows:
(H. R. 3247, 78th Cong., 1st sess.)
A BILL For the relief of Joseph Langhorne Walker
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the President is authorized to appoint Joseph Langhorne Walker, formerly an ensign, United States Navy (retired), on the retired list of the Navy in the grade of ensign with the retired pay of that grade: Provided, That, upon appointment, the said Joseph Langhorne Walker shall take rank from June 3, 1937, and shall be entitled to all retired pay which he would have received had his former status on the retired list not been terminated on November 13, 1942, by reason of his resignation which was accepted incident to an erroneous assumption that he was to be appointed to commissioned rank in the Army of the United States.
Mr. BRADLEY. We have next for consideration H. R. 3247, introduced by Mr. Beckworth, for the relief of Joseph Langhorne Walker. The clerk will read the report from the Department.
(Thereupon the report from the Department was read by the clerk as follows:)
FOR THE RELIEF OF JOSEPH LANGHORNE WALKER (H. R. 3247).
Washington, December 4, 1943. Hon. CARL VINSON, Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: The bill (H. R. 3247) for the relief of Joseph Langhorne Walker, was referred by your committee to the Navy Department with request for views and recommendation.
The purpose of the bill is to authorize the Secretary of the Navy to appoint Joseph Langhorne Walker on the retired list as an ensign, to rank from June 3, 1937. The bill also provides that Mr. Walker, when so appointed, shall be entitled to retired pay from the time his retired status was terminated on November 13, 1942.
Joseph Langhorne Walker was appointed a midshipman on June 15, 1933, and was commissioned an ensign to rank from June 3, 1937. On October 1, 1938, he was placed on the retired list, having been found physically incapacitated (psychosis manic depressive). He was a patient at St. Elizabeths Hospital,
Washington, D. C., from April 10, 1939, to August 1, 1940, on which date he was discharged from treatment at the hospital.
On November 9, 1942, Mr. Walker tendered his resignation from the United States Navy, and stated he expected to be commissioned in the Army of the United States, and that he had been denied active duty in the Navy. As the situation was urgent, his resignation was accepted on November 13, 1942, without investigation as to his mental competency. “It is understood that Mr. Walker was not accepted for a commission in the Army.
In view of the foregoing, the Navy Department recommends enactment of the bill H. R. 3247.
The Navy Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there would be no objection to the submission of this recommendation. Sincerely yours,
FRANK Knox. Mr. BRADLEY. This young man having resigned from the Navy to accept a commission in the Army which evidently he was assured was awaiting him, but which he did not get, he would now be denied the benefits of the Officers' Retirement Act.
Mr. GRANT. I would like to ask both of these officers about a case I had from my district, of a young boy who entered the Navy about Labor Day last year. Within a week after entering the Navy he cracked up, went to pieces mentally. He was sent out here to Bethesda, and ended up at St. Elizabeths. Since that time the boy has been discharged without any responsibility on the part of the Department. Now they have sent him back to the facility at Battle Creek, Mich. But, having accepted that man into the service, and however short was his service, he passed the physical examination before he was accepted, evidently there ought to be some liability on the part of the Department for that fellow.
Captain HEDERMAN. That is a very good question, Mr. Grant, but, as I understand it, it is very difficult for medical examiners at the time of a man's acceptance into the Navy to always detect something latent mentally. I really do not know the answer.
Mr. GRANT. They say it must have existed prior to his entering the Navy, although there is no history of it, and his family cannot believe it. Maybe he was right on the ragged edge and the induction and everything connected with it piled onto a boy of his age, was too much for him.
Captain HEDERMAN. I think it is human nature that anyone who has some history of mental disease is very reluctant to acknowledge it if he is going to have any physical examination made.
Mr. GRANT. Has not somebody pretty well said at one time we are all crazy; it is but a matter of degree? Where do you draw the line?
Captain PEDERMAN. That is it. I really do not know the answer, and I do not know how difficult it is to detect a thing like that except from past history in investigating a man's family history.
Mr. Grant. But I am sure you admit, Captain, except for the excitement of all of this, which broke him down, that his break-down might never have come if he had followed a normal life.
CAPTAIN HEDERMAN. I do not know who can say that. I do not know how abnormal his life had been in only those few days in the service.
Mr. Grant. It is usually the case of a young boy in his teens, who has never been away from home. It just broke him down, and as the chairman was about to remark, perhaps there might have been something there that was never obvious, but which might never have
broken him down without the excitement or something such as he went through in being inducted into the Navy and in going through all of the processes of induction. Of course they are treating them out there at this veterans' hospital, but there will be no compensation for him even though he might not recover, and they say the chances are not very good. He was kept here at St. Elizabeths Hospital until the holidays for a few months.
Mr. BRADLEY. In some of these cases in the Army they are asking the parents to sign some sort of statement as to the custody of the boys so that they can be discharged from the camp facilities and turned back on the family and upon their State.
Mr. GRANT. I think that was done in this case, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BRADLEY. I agree with the captain that it is very difficult to determine the origin of these cases when they have to go back and check up on the family history and incidents in the boy's life, but I do think in many instances, although there may be exceptions, that if it were not for the incidents regarding their induction into the service and into military life, that there may not have been a breakdown. I wish somebody would tell the Navy Department and the War Department, too, that, at least, while they may not throw open the avenues of the Veterans' Administration to these boys for compensation, if they feel it was the result of previous history that, at least, they should not try to force the parents to sign anything accepting these boys back into their home environment and to release the Government from their obligation to take care of them. I do not think that is fair. They are doing it right along.
Captain HEDERMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. BRADLEY. Regardless of whether they are eligible for compensation or not, and I do not think it is fair to the parents or the community to throw those boys back on the States to be placed in public institutions or on the families to bear the cost until the Government does all that they can for them. I believe they ought to do that.
Mr. HEIDINGER. Off the record.
Mr. BRADLEY. As an officer in the Navy, once he is commissioned, as I understand the law, if he develops any physical disability while he is in the naval service he automatically is surveyed medically and put on retirement. That would have happened to this officer in this case under the ordinary procedure, but he was anxious to serve his country, and thought he was completely cured, and he was promised a commission in the Army if he retired from the Navy, and he resigned from the Navy to get into the Army and failed to get into the Army.
Captain HEDERMAN. After he did that the Army would not accept him because he was a mental case.
Mr. HEIDINGER. Should he not have tried to get into the Army before he resigned from the Navy?
Captain HEDERMAN. He bad tried, and he was virtually told that he would be accepted, but that verbal agreement would not hold water.
Mr. HEIDINGER. Should he not have held onto this job until he got into the Army?
Mr. BRADLEY. Under the law he is eligible for retirement automatically.
Captain HEDERMAN. That is correct.
Mr. BRADLEY. And if he had chosen to stay there and the Navy did not restore him to duty they would have had to have put him on the retired list, isn't that so?
Captain HEDERMAN. Yes, sir.
Mr. HEIDINGER. And when he resigned from the Navy he lost the retirement benefits?
Captain HEDERMAN. That is very true, and now he is trying to restore the right to those benefits.
Mr. BRADLEY. He did that because he wanted to fight.
Mr. HEIDINGER. He elected to do that of his own volition. The Government is not under any obligation to take him back.
Captain HEDERMAN. He had already been placed on the retired list of the Navy because he was physically disabled, and he knew the Navy would not take him back to active duty and in his zealousness to get into the war, and this thing happened in November 1942, he told them he was willing to go ahead and waive all the monetary rights he had in the Navy because he was going to get a commission in the Army; he wanted to fight. So, having been promised verbally that he could get this commission in the Army he came over to the Navy and said I want to resign from the retired list. That is rather unusual, and the officer whom he consulted told him, said you are sacrificing about $1,200 a year by doing this, and in his excitement at the time he said that, "That does not amount to anything, that $1,200, I want to get into this war, because the Army is going to give me a commission."
But when it came time for him to get that commission in the Army, the Army had in the meantime investigated his whole record, and found that he was a mental case, and therefore they refused him his commission. He had already taken a step adverse to him by resigning from the Navy. He realizes he made a mistake on something he was legally entitled to, and waived that, and now realizing the mistake he would like to get back on the retired list.
Mr. GRANT. I move we favorably report the bill, Mr. Chairman. Mr. JOHNSON. I second the motion.
Mr. BRADLEY. Without objection H. R. 3247 for the relief of Joseph Langhorne Walker will be favorably reported by the committee, and the clerk will prepare the report, and I hope we get that through very quickly.
(Thereupon the committee proceeded to the consideration of other business.)