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My years in the other body, and now in the House, have been rewarding; certainly one of my most satisfying duties has been consistent support for veterans legislation during the past 25 years. As a veteran of World War I myself, I am aware of the hardship and horror of any war, the heartbreak which is a part of any victory. Strong and sincere public support is needed first for the soldier and, when the battle is over, for the veteran who has given so much to his country.

I have consistently urged the enactment of legislation to help the veteran, beginning with my support and cosponsorship of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, as well as my introduction of amendments which would have expanded and strengthened that act at the time it was passed. Therefore, it gave me special pleasure to become an original sponsor of the 1966 Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act, which provides much-needed recognition for the services of the cold war veteran.

In 1945, as a Senator and honorary member of the Disabled American Veterans, I was proud to present their legislative goals to the Congress. My words at that time are just as applicable to today's veteran. I said at that time:

We must not fail adequately to provide for those Americans who have sacrificed a part of their blood, or bodies, or health in the nation's most hazardous employment in its armed forces during time of war.

We are still fulfilling this obligation to our wartime veterans, who have preserved our democracy by fighting freedom's battles all over the world. We must not forget the veteran, especially now that the Vietnam war has made the safeguarding of our country from its enemies our first goal. The veteran still needs our help-help which we do not deny those in poverty, those on public assistance, those children who come from culturally deprived homes. We must not let other battles—Vietnam, the war on poverty, or others—keep us from fighting the battle for the veteran's rights.

My own bills, if enacted, would serve to restore benefits to veterans too close to the edge of poverty, and to allow widows over 62 to remarry without losing benefits which are necessary for their support.

H.R. 12427 would amend chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, in order to increase by 20 percent the income limitations imposed on those veterans eligible to receive non-service-connected disability pensions or widows and children of veterans with service-connected disabilities who are eligible to receive pensions.

At present the income limitations are shockingly low, judged by any standard we use today. It is unfortunate that veterans and their dependents must show need before receiving pensions; but if they must show need, their income limitations must be generous enough to allow them to enjoy some of the benefits of American prosperity. My bill would increase the annual income limitations for a veteran without dependents from $600 to $720 to receive the maximum pension; from $1,200 to $1,440 to receive the $75 a month pension, and from $1,800 to $2,160 outside income allowed to receive the $43 a month pension. For a veteran with dependents, the income limitations would be increased in a similar fashion; from $1,000 to $1,200; from $2,000 to $2,400, and from $3,000 to $3,600.

Pensions for widows of veterans who at the time of their death were receiving compensation for service-connected disability would

also be available when the widow had a slightly higher income. Similarly, orphan children of veterans with service-connected disability would be allowed an outside income, excluding their own earnings, of $2,160 instead of $1,800.

These changes are not radical. The 20-percent increase in income limitation seems the least we can do to bring the veteran's pension program in line with the increased standard of living and the increase in social security benefits. At present the system is clearly unfair to veterans who, instead of being given reasonable compensation by a grateful country, are even prevented from earning a few extra dollars a month-dollars needed to meet increased living costswithout being deprived of their pensions.

H.R. 4010 would change the definition of "widow" in section 101(3) of title 38, United States code, to allow widows over the age of 62 to remarry without losing their rights under the veterans pension laws. At present widows of veterans, no matter their age or loneliness, must remain single or lose the small pension which is theirs by right. They cannot afford to lose this pension. All too many of our older citizens are living on insufficient incomes, especially when such income comes only from a pension, and it is not true that two can live as cheaply as one on a single pension. We should not deny widows over 62, who have lost their loved ones and undergone many years of hardship, the chance to find companionship and peace with another member of the same generation. As some of you know, I was the author of an amendment to the Social Security Act which would allow widows to remarry without losing their benefits. They kidded me a little bit and said it was a "living in sin" bill because an enterprising reporter for the Miami Daily News who gave me the idea got curious and began to make some investigations around and found that a good many couples of elderly people were simply living together without marriage and sometimes hiding it from their relatives—they were often embarrassed in doing so—simply because they didn't want to spend the rest of their lives in separate loneliness and if they got married the widow would lose the benefit she was deriving already from a deceased husband.

Mr. SAYLOR. Senator, I never knew that was sin.

Mr. PEPPER. Of course, it depends on your point of view. It may well be a forgiveable one.

I introduced a bill and Martha Griffiths and others took it up in the Ways and Means Committee and we had, I think, about 100 members introduce the same or a similar bill in the House and we generated enough pressure so that the Senate partially achieved what we sought to accomplish and sent it back to us and then we in the House accepted the Senate amendment, but it is the same principle. Nothing has been done in that area in the case of the veteran's widow. She loses entirely, even though she marries a man whose social security or pension benefits are nothing or negligible.

Coming from the great State of Florida, I was well aware that many of my constituents were unable to marry because they could not afford to—and although we expect young people to be able to wait a few years, it is now indeed a tragedy when we forbid our senior citizens to enjoy their golden years together and in comfort. I was pleased that a modified version of my amendment became part of the Social Security Amendments of 1965; it is time to make this provision apply to widows of veterans as well.

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Now, I would like to turn to a broader question, one which concerns every one of the 22 million war veterans. More than 20 years ago, in a report to President Roosevelt, Bernard Baruch wrote-Bernard Baruch was proud of his residence in the State of our distinguished chairman. I had the honor to spend a week with him one time in the State of the distinguished chairman. He wrote: “We must not fail the veteran-for then we fail ourselves."

That statement is as true today as it was then, and once again we are in danger of failing the veteran in his time of need. We must remember that the standard of need for a war veteran is and should be higher than the test of indigency for public assistance.

1 am still strongly in favor of a World War I pension bill. I am convinced that the United States has special obligations to the veterans of World War I, veterans who did not have a GI bill, who struggled not only through the trenches of France, but through the worst depression we have seen, veterans who either are not entitled to social security or whose payments are pitifully small. A pension would show America's World War I veterans that we have not forgotten that their service deserves recognition and continued remuneration.

The disabled veteran, who has given up much more than years and profit in the service of his country, should be given increased benefits and services. Veterans with a service-connected disability rated at 40 percent or more should be entitled to additional compensation for dependents. Forty percent disability is certainly serious, and is a definite job handicap. It is difficult to understand why this change in the law has not been made. Furthermore, the Veterans' Administration should be asked to authorize complete medical services for any veteran who is totally disabled from a service-connected disability. One hundred percent disability weakens the entire physical structure, and this veteran deserves care even if his medical or surgical problem cannot be directly related to his service-connected disability.

Children of veterans having a service-connected disability rated at not less than 50 percent should be entitled to benefits under the war orphan's educational assistance program. A seriously disabled veteran, even if he is employed, can ill afford the cost of sending his children to college. They should not be denied the chance of an education which is considered more and more of a necessity in today's world.

We must also make every effort to increase the rates of death compensation payable to widows, children, and dependent parents of veterans who have died. We must improve the dependency and indemnity compensation program for dependent parents. We must increase the present 10-percent exclusion of all public and private retirement income from consideration as income for pension eligibility purposes. The 10-percent exclusion is no longer adequate. Too many veterans find that a few dollars of increase in retirement benefits puts them over the line of eligibility and leads to a drastic drop in their total income.

I also support the proposal that all veterans over age 72 should receive a pension as a matter of course, regardless of their outside income. I know of many older veterans in my own State of Florida who need a pension, and yet are not eligible. They cannot understand why they are denied this small mark of gratitude.

Mr. Chairman, let me close by saying that our veterans need a revised pension system, especially the older veteran who is spending the best years of his life in the service of his country lost many opportunities to find financial security.

Thank you very much.

I warmly commend this distinguished committee for opening these hearings, as I understand it, to a full consideration of what needs to be done in justice to the veterans of the country.

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for the privilege of being here.

Mr. Dorn. I want to thank you for sharing with us your time and your thoughts on this very important subject.

Are there any questions?

Mr. SECREST. I want to commend the Senator, who has been a leader in veterans' legislation for many years. Many bills have been introduced. I have introduced eight different bills, one to raise pensions 10 percent and one to exclude all income from pensions and annuities and insurance until the veteran has received back what he had paid in, and one to exempt $10,000 of life insurance as income. And whether this problem is approached by a number of individual bills or would be approached by one general bill that includes everything is immaterial. I think the main purpose of the committee and of the hearings is to arrive at something that will benefit the veteran and that will liberalize the pension system.

Mr. PEPPER. I am sure the able gentleman is correct. I think the President espoused the same principle that you are pursuing here when he indicated a little bit ago that he was going to propose a general revision of the social security system. No doubt with a view to raising it to a level of greater adequacy to meet the problems that people have to face today, with the present cost of living:

I am so glad that you are showing initiative and foresight to take a second look at this whole pension system, all the retirement benefits programs of the veterans of our country, to see in what respect they are not adequate and should be improved.

I know the veteran is in good hands with this distinguished committee.

Mr. KORNEGAY. I want to commend my good friend, Senator Pepper from Florida, for coming here this morning and pointing out to us a number of the shortcomings and inconsistencies that do exist in our pension programs. I will say that I appreciate it a great deal.

Without taking a lot of time, I do want to comment on your statement. On page 2 of your statement, Senator, you say the standard of living for war veterans is in effect much lower than it is for those who are on public assistance. It seems to me an ironical fact that the poor veteran is in much less of an advantageous position than someone who is perhaps equally as poor but has never served his country in time of trial.

I hope the committee will bear that in mind when they go into their deliberations.

Mr. DORN. Mr. Roberts of Texas.

Mr. ROBERTS. I want to thank the gentleman from Florida, but ask do you have any idea of the monetary cost of these recommendations?


Mr. PEPPER. No. I have been trying to get that material together. I think when you call upon the Veterans' Administration for report on these various bills, you will have their report as to their estimate. of the cost.

Mr. ROBERTS. Let me say I don't disagree with you.

Mr. PEPPER. As of now I do not have the overall figure. I wanted to get that to present to the committee, but I didn't have time to get those figures together.

Mr. SECREST. I want to make clear that while I have introduced eight of these pension bills, that many of them and I am sure other bills introduced—are the result of spadework done by the veterans' organizations and are intended to carry out resolutions adopted at their national convention.

Mr. PEPPER. Mr. Chairman, I think you will find that all these recommendations that I have ventured to call attention to here today are embodied in the veterans programs of the various veterans' organizations of the country. I am proud to be associated with them.

Mr. HANLEY. Mr. Chairman, I too want to commend the honorable gentleman from Florida for his comprehensive and fine statement. He certainly exhorts a noble philosophy in recognition of this Nation's obligation to those who served.

I commend you, Congressman Pepper, for your long time interest in the veterans and their dependents.

Mr. PEPPER. With regard to the question of cost, when we are fighting a war we don't ask how much it is going to cost, and I think when we are showing the gratitude of a country to the men who preserved our liberty and freedom for us, it isn't a question of what it costs, but it is a question of what is right.

Mr. DORN. Are there questions on my right?

I want to add my thanks to the thanks expressed by the other gentleman.

We have Congressman Hansen with us from Iowa. We are delighted to have you with us and you go right ahead with your statement.



Mr. HANSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no prepared statement with me, but I would ask you permission to file a written statement with your committee.

Mr. DORN. Without objection, such a statement, when received, will appear in the record at this point.

(The statement to which reference is made follows:)

In addition to my verbal comments, I have the following points to make.

It is my feeling that, despite our preoccupation with the battles of today, it is important not to forget the battles of the past and the veterans who fought in them. These veterans fought to give us the free world that we are enjoiying and defending today.

Afrer each conflict in this century, the Congress has acted to assist the veteran in his readjustment to civilian life. The recent passage of the GI Bill of Rights of 1966 was an outstanding example. While the initial assistance does benefit the veteran in a reasonably adequate measure, modifications must be made from

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