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hardly constitutes a minimum subsistence allotment. In any event, the scant provisions of the present law are clearly inadequate in light of the continuing rise in the cost of living.
As the members of this committee are well aware, the individuals vitally affected by this legislation paid an incalculable price in service to their country. We are deeply grateful for their efforts and sacrifice in preserving our democracy. "Let us repay them some small measure for their contributions to America. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I urge your acceptance of the amendments I have proposed.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. Ullman. We will now hear Congressman Tim Lee Carter, of the State of Kentucky. You may proceed, Mr. Carter.
STATEMENT BY HON. TIM LEE CARTER, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KENTUCKY
Mr. CARTER. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the invitation extended to me to appear before the committee today to offer testimony in favor of my bill, H.R. 7461, to increase the rates of pension payable to our Spanish War veterans.
According to my information, there were only 11,525 living veterans on the pension rolls as of June 30, 1966, of the original 392,000 participants in the Spanish-American War, 11,000 having died in the war. Their median age is 89. Most of them are in very poor health and require regular medical care and treatment. Many require the regular aid and attendance of another person to wait on and take care of them. The monthly rates of pension payable to them have not been increased since October 1, 1954. At that time, Public Law 83–698 increased from $96.75 to $101.59 the monthly rate of pension payable to Spanish War veterans with 90 days or more of service, and increased from $64.50 to $67.73 the monthly rate of pension payable to those veterans who served 70 days or more but less than 90.
Of course, many have elected to receive aid and attendance and/or housebound pension under Public Law 88–664. But for many of them without dependents who have some income from another source, they are unable to elect to receive the greater monthly rate of pension. Enactment of my bill, however, would not only increase the regular monthly rates of pension payable to these remaining living war veterans, but would enable them to qualify for greater benefits when in need of the regular aid and attendance of another person.
Therefore, I respectfully request the committee to give my bill every possible consideration and I am hopeful that it will be favorably reported. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you kindly.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. Carter. Our next witness will be Congressman Richard Roudebush, a former national commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars whom we all know well. Go right ahead, sir.
STATEMENT BY HON. RICHARD L. ROUDEBUSH, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF INDIANA
Mr. ROUDEBUSH. Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I am very pleased that you have seen fit to hold hearings on veterans' pension legislation and have included five bills which I have submitted to the Congress.
The bills I wish to appear on today are H.R. 1726, which I introduced January 6, 1965; H.R. 3407, introduced January 25, 1965; H.R. 5677, introduced March 2, 1965; H.R. 9288, introduced June 21, 1965; and H.R. 10435, introduced August 12, 1965.
The first bill I would like to discuss is H.R. 1726, amending section 501 of title 38, United States Code, providing that military service on the Mexican border prior to World War I by persons who had additional service in World War I shall be considered wartime service in determining eligibility for pension of the veteran, his widow and/or his children. This bill would affect a relatively few veterans.
In some cases, soldiers who served for rather extensive periods on the Mexican border later served in World War I. In view of the fact that the service during World War I may have been of limited duration, due either to age or disability, the requirement of 90 days' service in time of war was not met. This bill merely provides that the service on the Mexican border and during World War I can be combined, and thereby provide eligibility for pension for the veteran and/or his dependents.
I think this bill is no more than fair, and should have become law previously. As you know, service on the Mexican border was pursuant to the calls by the President on May 9, 1916, and June 18, 1916. The rigors of service on the Mexican border were often much more severe than that in World War I.
As stated, this bill will affect only a limited number of veterans, but it will permit these old soldiers to live their twilight years receiving benefits which will make their lot much easier. I sincerely request sympathetic consideration of this legislation.
The next bill on which I would like to comment is H.R. 3407. This bill amends chapter 15 of title 38, United States Code, and provides a separate and distinct pension of $100 a month for our World War I veterans.
The bill requires 90 days, honorable service in that period defined as“wartime” during World War I and subjects the recipient to income limitations of $2,400 annually for unmarried veterans and $3,600 for married veterans.
Another rather unusual feature of this bill is that such pension shall be increased by 10 percent if the records reveal that the serviceman served overseas during World War I. It further liberalizes the present pension laws by eliminating any retirement benefits, either public or private, which the veteran receives, in computing the amount of income the veteran has. This would eliminate such items as railroad retirement, social security, or private company retirement from consideration in determining the amount of pension or the eligibility to receive such pension.
This bill is similar to legislation I have introduced in previous Congresses and it has the support of several of our veterans' organizations. I feel the time has long passed when consideration should be given to
a separate pension program for our veterans of World War I, and I hope that this committee will agree and approve this legislation.
H.R. 5677 also deals with our World War I veterans, and approaches the pension situation from a different angle.
This bill does not affect the World War I pension as to rates payable, but it does liberalize that feature of the various acts as to methods used in computing the amount of income a veteran has from other sources.
The bill amends section 503(6) of title 38, United States Code and provides that all payments to an individual veteran accruing from public or private retirements, annuities, endowments, or similar plans and programs shall not be counted as income in determining the rate paid a veteran for nonservice disability.
I feel that the amendment provided by this legislation would resolve all the controversy which has surrounded the payment of pension for nonservice disability. It seems very unfair to me that these types of income, paid for in part or whole by the veteran, should be regarded as income.
This bill, when introduced, was supported very strongly by the veterans of World War I, and I feel it has a great deal of merit.
H.R. 9288 affects a limited number of veterans. It is rather ironic that many former servicemen served under combat conditions and against an organized enemy and still are not considered wartime veterans or entitled to benefits as such.
This bill provides that any veteran who participated in armed conflict with our Armed Forces shall be considered a wartime veteran.
I recall several years back when I had a matter brought to my attention of a former marine who served during one of the many campaigns and expenditions in the Pacific, during periods when we were not officially at war. This man entered a VA hospital only to have it determined a few days later that he was not eligible for such hospitalization and any services rendered him were subject to repayment by the veteran. I don't imagine that this happens too frequently, but it is regrettable that a serviceman in our regular establishment can serve in actual combat and not be entitled to benefits except in the case of service-incurred disabilities.
By contrast, any soldier who serves even 1 day in time of war is entitled to hospitalization by the Veterans' Administration.
I feel most strongly about this bill and have discussed it with various members of this committee on many occasions. I hope that this bill can be approved and become the law of the land.
The final bill on which I wish to give testimony is H.R. 10435. This bill was introduced on August 12, 1965, when I became convinced that a number of overpayments would accrue due to an increase in social security benefits.
The bill has as its purpose to excuse such overpayments during the calendar year 1965, so you can readily see that the legislation was designed to solve a temporary problem and is no longer effective.
Therefore, I request that the committee withdraw such legislation from active consideration.
Again, I thank the committee for its attention, and repeat my request for your sincere and earnest consideration.
Mr. DORN. We thank you, Richard. We always appreciate your interest in matters which this committee must consider. We will now hear from Congressman William Moorhead, of Pennsylvania. You may proceed, Mr. Moorhead.
STATEMENT BY HON. WILLIAM S. MOORHEAD, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA
Mr. MOORHEAD. Mr. Chairman, I want to express my appreciation to you and to the other distinguished members of this committee for extending to me the opportunity to testify on H.R. 6015, a bill to amend the United States Code with respect to eligibility for pension of certain widows of Civil War veterans.
The purpose of this bill is very simple. It is designed to change a marriage requirement applicable to payment of death pension to widows of Civil War veterans. Under existing law, non-serviceconnected death pensions may not be paid to an otherwise eligible widow of a Civil War veteran unless she was married to him before June 27, 1905. My bill, H.R. 6015, would change the specific marriage date requirement to June 27, 1918.
you know, the Veterans' Administration, is not able to estimate the number of Civil War widows who would become eligible under this provision if this change is made, but the VA believes the number to be very small and that the costs of this change would, therefore, be small.
As you know too, the very able Administrator of the Veterans Administration, Mr. William J. Driver, is concerned that adoption of H.R. 6015 would result in requests for liberalization of the marriage date requirement for widows of veterans of other wars. It has been more than a century since the Civil War ended, therefore, I think it would be an acceptable precedent to establish for enactment of marriage requirement liberalization in 1998 for widows of the SpanishAmerican War veterans and in 2018 for widows of World War I veterans.
I think we can be assured the number of widows involved and the future cost, under such precedent, would be very small.
The problem today is the very great need of a very small number of widows of Civil War veterans. I urge the prompt approval of H.R. 6015.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Congressman Moorhead. Our next witness will be the Congresswoman from Michigan, Mrs. Griffiths. Martha, we are very glad to have you, and you may go right ahead.
STATEMENT BY HON. MARTHA W. GRIFFITHS, A REPRESENTA
TIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF MICHIGAN
Mrs. GRIFFITHS. The structure of pension systems is of great interest to me, so I'm very pleased to be able to contribute to your discussion.
My bill H.R. 4535 would amend title 38 of the United States Code to provide that monthly social security benefit payments not be considered as income in determining eligibility for pensions under that title. I consider this a great improvement over the current system.
As it is now, we argue that veterans' pensions are based on financial need and that a single dollar of income, regardless of source, reduces financial need. But when the possibility of an increase in social security benefits raised the related possibility that many people would lose some or all of their veterans' pension, we approved a law which exempts a percentage of their income from being computed as income for the purpose of determining their veterans' pension.
This is exactly what we have done in passing the 10 percent exclusion provision in Public Law 88-664 and the 7 percent increase in social security benefits in the 1965 social security amendments. While it may simply have been prompted by political prudence, this is nevertheless recognition of the perfectly obvious fact that even the combined benefits of social security and veterans' pensions scarcely provide an extravagant standard of living.
It's high time that we stop skirting the issue and say this plainly. And having said so, that we act accordingly. I urge you to consider the possibility of excluding monthly social security benefits from the computation of income in establishing eligibility for veterans' pensions.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you so much, Mrs. Griffiths. We certainly appreciate your interest. Our next witness will be the Honorable William H. Natcher, a former member of this committee. You may proceed, Mr. Natcher. STATEMENT BY HON. WILLIAM H. NATCHER, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF KENTUCKY Mr. NATCHER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, for the record, my name is William H. Natcher and I have the privilege of representing the Second District of Kentucky.
On January 4, 1965, I introduced H.R. 131, which was referred to your committee. This measure would extend to veterans of the Mexican border service who served 90 days or more between May 9, 1916 and April 6, 1917, and to their unremarried widows and dependent children, all of the rights and benefits of World War I veterans.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to point out that H.R. 131 will affect a relatively few individuals but, if this legislation is enacted into law, it will correct an injustice which certainly should have been remedied many years ago. It is my hope that you and the members of your committee will report this bill favorably.
On January 25, 1965, I introduced H.R. 3396 which was referred to your committee. This measure would provide for the extension of veteran benefits to persons serving as members of the U.S. Armed Forces between November 12, 1918, and July 2, 1921. Those individuals who would benefit from the provisions of H.R. 3396 were members of the U.S. military occupational forces who served in Europe between November 12, 1918, and July 2, 1921, and in view of the services they rendered during the occupation, I believe they should be permitted to enjoy veteran status and should be accorded the benefits accruing from such status.
Mr. Chairman, only a very few persons will be affected by H.R. 3396 and I sincerely believe that their services should be appropriately recognized. It is my hope that you and the members of your committee will report this bill favorably.