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Mr. CAMP. It would be an improvement over H. R. 3650.
Mr. MATHEWS. Yes; but, Mr. Camp, we still would be leaving out the matter of proof established by this resolution that was last
read into the record? In other words, if we incorporated the paragrapn 2 in the legislation, that has nothing to do with the matter of proof of the existence of the disease at any particular time or its service connection other than the period of the time, we are still up against that regulation about medical evidence being the only evidence allowed ; are we not?
Mr. Camp. We take the position that the provisions of the existing law regarding the submission of lay evidence in those cases where there is not an official record of the veteran's condition in service where he participated in service in areas where these are endemic should be given more weight by the Veterans' Administration. The law is ample, in my opinion, to cover those cases by the application of a little sound reasoning, and trying to visualize the circumstances, under which the veteran served, and the nature and the extent of his disease,
Mr. MATHEWS. I may express my own view, Mr. Camp, in this way: That I do not favor enacting into legislation satisfactory regulations by the Veterans' Administration. In fact, my objective is to get them to have still more and more satisfactory regulations in the administration of these various veterans' benefits, and if we can get that we have accomplished a lot because they will be flexible. When the Veterans' Administration finds out that the regulation they have is inadequate, the veterans' organization can show them that they are inadequate, and it can be changed. The moment we enact it into legislation it becomes pretty rigid, and in order to get them changed we have to change an act of Congress again.
Mr. Camp. Public, 361, of the Seventy-seventh Congress provided just what I mentioned a minute ago. That is the oft-repeated benefit of reasonable doubt that has been the published policy of the Veterans Administration since at least 1921. The Administrator and the Director of the Veterans' Bureau have always stated, clear back from the days of C. R. Forbes, that the benefit of all reasonable doubt should be resolved in favor of the veteran. · But that is just a theory only, Mr. Mathews.
Mr. Mathews. I might go back 25 years, when I fought that thing as service officer from my State of the American Legion, from the ground up, trying to convince the administrative department that Congress enacted these laws for the benefit of the veteran, and if there was a doubt it should be resolved in favor of the veteran instead of the Government. Finally, we had to tell them by law to do that: That is the point I am getting at. When they do the right thing by administration, I do not see any point in enacting it into law. When they do not do it right, then I see the necessity for enacting it into law. Do I make myself clear?
Mr. Camp. Yes; but let me say further that I do not think Congress can legislate nor the Veterans Administration regulate brains.
Mr. Mathews. I do not think you will find any of us arguing the point. Mr. SULLIVAN. Mr. Mathews, in answer to your inquiry, we will şupplement this with a letter.
Mr. MATHEWS. I would like to have it.
Thank you very much.
Mr. MATHEWS. Are there any other witnesses on 3650 ?
OF FOREIGN WARS Mr. MATHEWS. What is your name, sir?
Mr. RICHTER. Elmer P. Richter, chief of claims, Veterans of Foreign Wars.
I have been instructed to advise or inform the committee that our organization is substantially in agreement with the purpose of H. R. 3650, but we would appreciate the opportunity to make a few observations in connection with the bill that was written.
Now, one aspect of it is that it refers to tropical diseases, and we are not sure that that will not give way to controversy. Here this morning malaria was projected, and that is true everywhere when the discussion comes up, something like 190,000 cases on the rolls in January, it is a very difficult rating subject, but we looked at it from this standpoint. While there are some diseases that are prevalent or more prevalent in the tropics, they are not necessarily indigenous to the tropics. For instance, Life magazine carried an article a short time ago on tropical diseases, and, among other things, it mentioned tularemia under the heading of tropical diseases, and then went along to explain that, as a matter of fact, it was not tropical, it was just thought of in that category. But I point that out to show that, depending on the construction—there might be a very limited construction on the use of the word “tropical.” There might be a broad construction, depending on the VA.
Mr. MATHEWS. The portion of the rating schedule I read was that from the heading of “Tropical diseases." Do you know whether the disease you mention-what that? Tularemia ?
Mr. RICHTER. Yes.
Mr. RICHTER. I do not believe it is included as such, but, while it is in the same category, I do not believe it is definitely earmarked as a tropical disease, as well as I remember. There is a loophole in the 'schedule, and it says "and others," but from the way the bill is written we would say this, on our medical advice: That it has one very good aspect, and there would be very few typically tropical diseases that might have been picked up in the United States after the man is home and is discharged from the service, and from that standpoint if the veteran has been in the areas where these diseases are prevalent he certainly should have all benefit of doubt. I mean, it is not a very far-fetched presumption to service-connect a tropical disease just because a man has been back and discharged for a year or so.
Mr. MATHEWS. Don't you think that the section. I read from the rating schedule is more liberal in that connection than the bill that is before us?
Mr. RICHTER. Well, I had a couple of observations on that, if I may make them, sir.
Mr. MATHEWS. Surely. That is what we want.
Mr. RICHTER. We would advocate an addition to the text in the bill, and I would like to mention it in this way: It is a little roundabout,
but to begin with we have the 1-year specific list of diseases. That is fixed by the veterans' regulation which now has the effect of law. It is law. It is the 1-year period, and the 1 year is a fiction.
Mr. MATHEWS. You feel that is inadequate, do you?
Mr. RICHTER. With certain exceptions. It is good as far as it goes, but back in 1937 General Hines was testifying before the old Pension Committee, and this subject came up only in a different phase, and we drew from the general by his letter addressed to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on December 16, 1937, on the basis of his testimony down here, that, as a matter of fact, the Veterans' Administration could service-connect any disease on a factual basis if it is supported by sound medical principles. Mr. MATHEWS. Sound medical principles?
Mr. RICHTER. Yes; generally accepted principles. On the basis of that, I saw many cases allowed here in the Washington office. It had particular reference at that time to peacetime cases where there was no presumption after discharge from the service. The difficulty is that that principle has not been observed by the field, and there is still a conflict.
Now, on the rating schedule, I find this conflict: If you take the 1-year period literally, if it is literally construed, then you would have leprosy. You could service connect it within the year but beyond that, as Dr. Shapiro said, after 365 days it would be out. On the other hand, on the schedule they say the incubation period or gestation period may be 5 years or more, so they have a lot of anomalies. We would have this suggestion : Give them their 1-year presumption, as has already been seen fit, but, in addition to that, add to the basic law.
Now, I heard your suggestion that you do not like to enact a law when a thing can be accomplished administratively, and I agree with you on that. The trouble is that there are some things that the personnel in the VA will not observe unless they are in a statute.
Mr. MATHEWS. Well, those are the things that we have got to correct.
Mr. RICHTER. Our suggestion on that will be, using almost the same language that General Hines used in 1937, that any disease, in addition to the 1-year period that the Veterans’ Administration is authorized to connect with the service, that any disease shown later upon lay evidence and sound medical principles. You would have the facts. Certainly there would have to be certain facts in the man's favor, and then you would have the public health institutions, the Army and Navy cioctors, upon which to draw, among other sources.
Mr. MATHEWS. Are there any other questions?
Well, will your organization like to submit a letter on that subject to the subcommittee?
Mr. RICHTER. We will be very glad to.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT MCLAUGHLIN, LEGISLATIVE CONSULTANT,
AMERICAN VETERANS OF WORLD WAR II
Mr. McLAUGHLIN. I would like to say on that point that we have no mandate on tropical diseases. However, we are presenting this bill for the consideration of our national legislative committee next week end, and I am quite convinced that they will support the bill subject to the committee's determination as to whether the matter may be handled administratively by the Veterans' Administration.
Mr. MATHEWS. Do you care to submit a letter, the same as the others?
Mr. McLAUGHLIN. Yes, sir; as soon as we have taken that action, and then I would like to be heard later on the other bills.
Mr. MATHEWS. We want to get through with this one bill.
If not, we will take up the income limitations, which include H. R. 1352, 2566, 295, 460, and 1453.
Does the American Legion want to be heard on those bills?
STATEMENT OF CHARLES W. STEVENS—Resumed
Mr. STEVENS. That is on H. R. 1352, Mr. Chairman !
Mr. STEVENS. I address myself primarily, sir, and members of the committee, to the bill introduced January 27, 1947, H. R. 1352, by Mrs. Rogers upon request of the American Legion.
Mr. MATHEWS. Very well.
Mr. STEVENS. May I ask at this point, please, sir, permission to add an additional section to be included in the bill, overlooked at the time it was drafted? This also pertains to income limitation and might well become a part of this bill.
Mr. MATHEWS. Now, the bill you are talking about is H. R. 1352; is that right?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir.
Mr. STEVENS. The suggestion addition, sir, is a section which will provide
Mr. MATHEWS. Read it into the record, please. Mr. STEVENS (reading): Notwithstanding any other provision of law or veterans regulation, in determining “annual income” under the provisions of paragraph II (a), part III, Veterans Regulation No. 1 (a), as amended (U. S. C., 1934 ,edition, title 38, ch. 12, Appendix), any payments of retirement annuities based upon age or disability and of social-security benefits based upon age, shall not be considered.
Mr. MATHEWS. Well, right in this connection, does that mean payments of retirement annuities from governmental sources only!
Mr. STEVENS. No, sir. It might be from industrial concerns, commercial establishments.
Mr. MATHEWS. Or insurance policies?
Mr. STEVENS. It could be if it were a refund life income; for example, a man might have an endowment policy and wants to take monthly payments of that income.
Mr. MATHEWS. It also would include, would it not, people who have purchased annuities?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir.
Mr. MATHEWS. The annuities which they got would not be included in this amendment; is that right?
Mr. STEVENS. Any payment of retirement annuities would be. I believe that such purchased annuities would be included. I believe, Mr. Mathews, I should address myself to this bill section by section.
Mr. MATHEWS. Any way you wish.
Mr. STEVENS. Section 1 is to fulfill a San Francisco national convention 1946 mandate of the American Legion; Resolution No. 181, which urges amendatory legislation to provide identical requirements for award of death pension to dependents of World Wars I and II. Public Law 483 of the Seventy-eighth Congress, of December 14, 1944, removed the requirement that there be a service-connected disability of ascertainable degree at death in World War I cases in the event the person who served had 90 or more days of service under other than dishonorable conditions or was dsicharged for disability in line of duty if the service was less than 90 days.
Mr. Mathews. In other words, this first section brings this completely in line regarding World War II veterans?
Mr. STEVENS. Yes, sir. Section 1 of Public, 483 is at variance with section 6 of Public, 483, but section 6 of Public, 483, as it would be amended here would make the requirements identical for World Wars I and II death pension cases.
Section 2 of H. R. 1352 will make it possible for the dependent widows and children of men who died in service after having had 90 days or more service, but whose deaths have been held not service connected, to be allowed the benefits of Public Law 484 of the Seventythird Congress, as amended. That is the old Widows and Orphans Act, and it would take care of a goodly number of cases now denied. Public Law 484, just mentioned, was approved on June 28, 1934. On June 29, 1936, there was approved Public Law 844, enacted in the Seventy-fourth Congress, and that removed the initial requirement that the death be the direct result of service, and allowed presumptively service-connected cases to be included, and also it permitted payment to be made even though the death might be held of misconduct origin.
For instance, a man might be killed in a fight, or something of that nature. Now, if the man died in service and his death was held not in line of duty by the Veterans' Administration, though it was probably in many instances held in line of duty and not the result of misconduct by the service department, there is still no way that death compensation can be paid, and there is no provision for the payment of death pension in those cases, so the widows and children in those cases are just eliminated from death pension rolls.
Do I make myself clear?
Mr. MATHEWs. During the official period of World Wars I and II from causes which are not directly service-connected but while in the service, then you would give his widow the pension?
Mr. STEVENS. And children; yes, sir.
Mr. Mathews. But if he died immediately after the official period was over, that they would not get that; is that right?
Mr. STEVENS. Well, may I say, Mr. Mathews, that it is limited now to wartime cases. That is, Public 484 benefits are payable only to