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agree to that. We never asked them for a confounded thing unless it was really justified. We are happy with the way things are.
Now I want to tell you a little story that I think will give you a general picture of the attitude of our widows. An old colored lady on the South Side of Chicago called me at the office about a little over a month ago. She said, "Mr. Black, I want some advice." She said, “Another lady, the same age as I, have been friends for many, many years. She sent her pension check back to the pension bureau saying it was no longer needed because she had gone on relief and was getting $130 a month relief in Chicago.” She said, "Mr. Black, I wants to know what I should do."
I said, “I will tell you, madam,” I said, “that is a personal problem. I wouldn't advise any way. Think it over and think it over good because once you return that check you are through forever.”'
About a week later she called me up and said, "Mr. Black, I have been thinking this thing over. I am 82 years old. I worked up until I was 80 and I can not do nothing no more.”
But she said, “I made up my mind. I am 82 years old and I never accepted one penny of charity in my life. I was born and raised in Chicago. I have never accepted any charity.” She said, "I am too damn old”-excuse my expression—"to start now. I am going to stay with this pension.
I told her that we were coming to Washington sometime later on to appear before this committee and request an increase in the pension.
She said, "Praise the Lord. If you all get $85 a month, I ain't going to take no back-talk from nobody."
Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. Fino. Mr. Chairman, I just want to compliment this fine organization, Spanish-American War Veterans organization, for being so unselfish in appearing before this committee and not pleading their own cause but speaking on behalf of the widows. I think they deserve a great compliment for not asking for anything for themselves but speaking for a good cause, the widows of the Spanish-American veterans.
Mr. ROBERTS. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF SAM HUTCHINSON ON BEHALF OF UNITED
SPANISH WAR VETERANS
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I bring no prepared statement. When I was commander in chief in 1959 and 1960, I traveled over quite a portion of the country and I was in several homes of veterans and met several of the widows.
I do not know how the Congress passed that bill to give $65 to one portion of widows and $75 to another just because they were married 2 or 3 years older unless they wanted an explosion of the population. Anyhow, I really feel that that injustice was done and my idea is to correct that injustice and allow them a straight $85.
I am one of the youngest Spanish War veterans in America. The first day of September I will be 86 years old and my wife is only 3 years
younger. That is about the average age of our Spanish War veterans. Of course, maybe like Frank Sinatra some of us lost our heads and married some young girls but nevertheless the average is in the late seventies or the early eighties. I feel that it is only justice. The Spanish-American War is the only war that did not cost America a penny but brought $11 million into the Treasury of the United States.
When we were getting $15 and other veterans were getting more we did not get any allowance for our families. We did not get any allowance, bonus, when we came back and we did not have a guarantee of our jobs when we came back. We had to look for a new job.
Consequently, when we were married, our wives had to get along the best way they could with what we made. That $15 did not go very far, although it was worth about four times what it is now.
Nevertheless, I went around through several housing projects in Virginia and a room, one room and a little kitchenette, with an old broken-down gas stove and refrigerator and a table and two chairs, and another room with a bed and dresser, they wanted $30 a month. When that widow pays $30 a month out of that $65 or $75 she has not got much left to buy food, clothes, medicine, and so forth.
I am asking and pleading the indulgence of this committee to give our widows the relief and grant them the $85 a month.
I thank you.
Mr. TEAGUE of California. Mr. Fino and I occasionally smoke cigars. We are glad to see that cigar smoking has kept you vigorous and mentally alert.
Mr. HANLEY. Mr. Chairman, I want to compliment the gentleman on his very fine statement. I am in accord with the fact that I believe it would be a sad commentary when our Government has to credit savings to the expense of this very noble groups of citizens, the widows of the Spanish-American War veterans. I for one hope that this inequity can be resolved quickly.
Mr. HUTCHINSON. Thank you.
Mr. ROBERTS. Thank you very much. Now I believe we ready for Mrs. Brisson.
We are glad to have you before the committee. Do you have anybody else you want to bring up with you?
Mrs. Brisson. No, this is perfectly all right.
STATEMENT OF MRS. MARGARET H. BRISSON, PRESIDENT,
WIDOWS OF WORLD WAR I, INC. Mrs. BRISSON. Mr. Chairman and members of the Veterans' Affairs Committee, as the national president of the Widows of World War I, Inc., it is my pleasure and privilege to represent the organization regarding our bill, H.R. 11932, and to state the reasons for this bill being presented. We have been organized since February 7, 1946, as an independent organization. We are not an auxiliary to any veterans group. I wish to express to the members of the committee my appreciation for your courtesy in permitting me to appear before this distinguished group.
We, the widows whose husbands served their country in time of need, nursed them, cared for them-for many returned badly maimed-blinded and disabled, unable to work because of the dis
abilities—but when death claimed them it was from other causes, therefore, the widow was pensioned instead of compensated.
Many of our widows have remained on the original pension of $50.40, others transferred to the $64. Those on the $50.40 will receive this amount as long as they do not exceed the limitation of $1,400. Those who transferred to the $64 will receive this amount if they do not go over $600, if they should exceed the $600 they would then only receive $48 per month.
Many husbands passed away before the social security was in effect, others, at least a majority, left very little social security for the widows. This is one of the reasons we are asking that the limitation be lifted. A minority might receive this increased benefit who do not need it, but these numbers are very small compared to those who do need it and need it desperately.
Widows of World War I, with very few exceptions are over 65 years of age. To secure work is a very difficult task. Employers do not want to hire women from that age group. About the only sort of work these ladies might secure is menial labor.
In the widow's early life she remained at home, looking after the family needs, as time passed, more and more their husbands frequently became too ill to work and unable to carry on. His passing left his widow with little or no means of support except for the pension she receives from her Government. Ten years ago it was much easier to get along on $50.40. Rents were more reasonable, food cheaper, and other utilities less expensive._Now, a cottage or one room apartment costs a great deal more. The places one can secure for $65 a month are few and many not too desirable.
As to the widow, as she grows older and aging begins, there are doctor's bills to be paid, medicine to be purchased and a thousand little things are there that cannot be taken care of because she does not have enough income to accomplish these things.
Our President stated that all Americans are entitled to a decent living. We, the widows of World War I, are only asking for a fair and decent living without having to go on relief.
Our widows ask for a fair consideration from their Government. That is why we ask you gentlemen, our Congressmen from all parts of this fair land of ours, to consider this bill, H.R. 11932, to raise our pension to $75 per month and to lift the limitation.
I wish at this time to thank individually and collectively the members of this most distinguished committee for the opportunity to appear and to share with you the deep concerns and tribulations of the widows of World War I. Thank you, gentlemen.
Mr. ROBERTS. Thank you, Mrs. Brisson.
Without objection, the committee will stand adjourned until 10 o'clock tomorrow morning.
(Whereupon, at 10:45 p.m., the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m., Thursday, July 21, 1966.)
THURSDAY, JULY 21, 1966
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to adjournment, in room_356, Cannon House Office Building, at 10 a.m., Hon. W. J. Bryan Dorn (subcommittee chairman) presiding,
Mr. DORN. The subcommittee will come to order.
We are continuing our hearings on non-service-connected pension benefits this morning and are happy to hear from Mr. Mike Dwyer, who represents the American Expeditionary Forces of 1917-19.
You go right ahead, Mr. Dwyer.
STATEMENT OF MIKE DWYER, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR,
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES OF 1917–19, ACCOMPANIED BY MRS. HAZEL M. COLLYER, ST. CLOUD, FLA., REPRESENTING THE WIDOWS OF THE AEF
Mr. DWYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. May I introduce a widow who is in charge of our widow division, Mrs. Hazel M. Collyer of St. Cloud, Fla. She is here to support our bill.
Mr. Dorn. We are glad to have her here.
Mr. DWYER. We want to thank the chairman and members of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, for this opportunity to appear before them and to present this statement in support of a bill H.R. 13595, introduced March 14, 1966, by the Honorable John P. Saylor, of the 22d District of Pennsylvania. H.R. 13595 is a bill to amend title 38 of the United States Code, to amend chapter 15, by adding a subchapter V-to pay a special pension to veterans of World War I and their widows.
For the purpose of this subchapter the term "World War I” means the beginning on April 6, 1917, and ending on September 1, 1919. The term “eligible veteran of World War ľ” means a veteran who served for a period of 90 days or more during World War I, was honorably discharged or released from such service, and is not entitled to retired pay, retainer pay, or disability retired pay arising from service in the Armed Forces.
The monthly rate shall not exceed $150, which shall be determined by multiplying $5 by the number of months such veteran served within the continental limits of the United States and adding to such product the product of $10 and the number of months such veteran served outside the continental limits of the United States. If service was performed outside of the continental limits of the United States in any month, all service performed during such month shall be deemed to have been performed outside of the United States and any fraction of a month of service shall be deemed to be a full month of service. Widows would receive equal to one-half the monthly rate of pension such veteran would be entitled to.
It was on April 6, 1917, that Congress passed the Declaration of War against the Central Powers of Europe. President Woodrow Wilson placed his signature to the document and announced that the youth of this country would make the world safe for democracy.
On May 20, 1917, Congress passed a law to draft all able bodied men, between the ages of 21 and 31 years of age, inclusive, for military service in the Armed Forces of the United States. Today these drafted men are all 70 to 80 years of age, with those of the militia and regular army many over the 80-year mark. Senator Michael J. Mansfield, born March 16, 1903, is one of the six youths who were but 14 years of age when they enlisted in the service of their country in 1917.
June 5, 1917, registration was held for the draft and the initial group entered camps on September 10, 1917. The soldiers were drilled for a full 8 hours each day and through one of the coldest winters of history in 1917–18. They were rushed to camps to drill with sticks and makeshift equipment of guns.
Arrival in France without proper military training they were rushed to the front lines, to stop the advancing enemy. As a general rule, a member of the Armed Forces has no control over the locale of his military service. He must obey orders and do or die, kill or be killed, facing the enemy in defense of his country. Despite being untrained, the soldiers moved forward, overcame the mud, gas, shot and shell, continued on without food for many days and defeated the greatest military machine in the history of the world at that time.
During World War I no records of injury, disease or accidents were listed by many outfits; echelons were many miles to the rear. Many thousands of those who had given faithful service at the front lines have been unable to furnish proof that their disability was of service origin.
The respect for the rights of a Nation's defenders emphasizes the fact that the noblest duty a man can perform is to risk his life for his country; that a soldier who incurs the perils and hardships of war does so not only to protect his own home, but the homes of all other citizens.
The paltry amount received as monthly pay for such services should not be considered a suitable equivalent for his patriotic sacrifices. An equitable restitution is due from a Government to those who risk their all for this preservation. This should be recognized as an obligation resting upon human loyalty and upon the conscience of the Congress and citizens. It is an unwritten law of justice requiring no other guarantee for its discharge. Indeed, the very safety of a nation rests largely upon intelligent consideration of its soldiers and with legislation to stimulate love of country and pride in its flag.
It is this that constitutes its bulwark of peace, its safeguard against unlawful invasion, and which guarantees a dignified sentiment of gratitude to those who offer their lives as a sacrifice to the country. This is the same spirit which inspires the erection of numerous homes