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to improve the well-being of all veterans—will, in the interest of equity, give particular attention to this deserving group of veterans.
In closing, Mr. Chairman, I again want to thank you and the committee members for your kindness and courtesy in permitting me the opportunity to appear before you.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you so much, Mr. Flaherty, for expressing the views of the organization you represent.
COUNSEL. Mr. Chairman, a representative of AMVETS was scheduled to appear today but was unable to do so due to the fact that the organization has just completed the building of a new headquarters here which I understand is to be dedicated this week. Their national commander, Ralph Hall, has furnished a statement which he has asked that we place in the record.
Mr. Dorn. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The statement follows:)
STATEMENT OF RALPH E. Hall, NATIONAL COMMANDER, AMVETS Mr. Chairman and Members of this Subcommittee: The opportunity to appear before this Subcommittee and briefly express the views of AMVETS at these hearings with respect to proposed pension legislation, is deeply appreciated.
AMVETS is continually mindful of and concerned for the legitimate and changing needs of our Nation's veterans and their dependents. We are particularly mindful that the relationship of veterans' legislation to other National economic and social legislation, generally, must be proper and reasonable both in priority and scope.
We are pleased that the Chairman of this Committee, the Honorable Olin Teague has seen fit to schedule pension hearings during this Session.
This again is indicative of the continuing and long range responsibility that both he and the House Veterans Affairs Committee exercises in the area of veterans benefits programs, in the ever evolving and changing American society.
In keeping with the general policy directives of AMVETS, we believe that there should be a substantial increase in the annual income limitations currently provided for in the non-service connected pension program, as related to continuing cost of living spirals, but keeping within the President's formula to maintain non-inflationary increases in all Federal and Great Society Programs.
We sincerely believe that such periodic reappraisals of the pension system should be conducted in each new Congress, based on the cost of living and other appropriate indicies as established by the Federal Government.
Failure to periodically review these fixed dollar amounts of these benefits results in a gradual relative reduction in their purchasing power for those very objectives which Congress intended to provide veterans and their dependents.
AMVETS has long advocated, not only in the pension programs, but in all veterans benefits programs generally that a formula should be devised to provide periodic appraisals. This formula should, of course, be in keeping with the recognized cost-of-living indexes or similar established formulas such as the one presently recommended by the President as non-inflationary. This will insure that the amounts paid are at maintained levels consistent with the intent of Congress and on truly equitable comparative levels.
Mr. Chairman, we want to thank you again for the privilege of allowing AMVETS’ views to be presented to this Subcommittee.
Mr. Dorn. There being no further witnesses this morning the committee will adjourn until 10 o'clock Tuesday.
(Thereupon, at 10:50 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned, to reconvene at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 26, 1966.)
TUESDAY, JULY 26, 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. Our first witness this morning will be Commander Herbert M. Houston, national commander of the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc. He will be accompanied by his special assistant for liaison, my good friend of long standing—I started to say old friend, buy my young friend of long association, Col. J. Bates Gerald, of Charleston, S.C. He is really from the whole State.
We are especially pleased to welcome Commander Houston before the committee this morning. Commander Houston has an outstanding record of military service and has cooperated closely with the Veterans' Affairs Committee throughout the years on various legislative matters which have been of mutual interest. I want to say to you, Commander Houston, that the chairman of the full committee, Mr. Teague, and I, as the chairman of this subcommittee, are deeply grateful to you and men like you and Col. J. Bates Gerald for your fair and progressive program of legislation, including the G.I. bill for the training of veterans of Vietnam, and I am personally grateful to you gentlemen.
I will say Colonel Gerald has been a leader in sponsoring legislation for World War I veterans for many years. Those of us who know him well know he is one veteran who does not need a pension, since he is a highly successful businessman and has been in South Carolina for many years. Colonel Gerald is just devoted to the cause and he is acting largely at his own expense when you see him trying to help the veterans of all wars, not just the veterans of World War I, and working for the good of the country. It is for that reason we are all the more impressed by gentlemen such as Commander Houston and Colonel Gerald, because we know they are not serving their own self-interest but are trying to help their less fortunate colleagues and their widows and dependents.
If you don't watch out I will be making a speech. I feel the mood coming on. I am personally pleased to have you gentlemen with us, and your fine staff. You go right ahead, Commander Houston.
STATEMENT OF HERBERT M. HOUSTON, NATIONAL
NATIONAL COMMANDER, VETERANS OF WORLD WAR I OF THE U.S.A., INC., ACCOMPANIED BY JOHN J. HARRINGTON, LEGISLATIVE DIRECTOR; MRS. KATHRYN IVERSON, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE SERVICES; COL. J. BATES GERALD, ADMINISTRATIVE LIAISON ASSISTANT; AND COMDR. RUFUS ARP, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CONVENTION CORP.
Mr. HOUSTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My name is Herbert M. Houston. I am the national commander of the Veterans of World War I of the U.S.A., Inc.
We are most grateful to you, Mr. Chairman of the Subcommittee on Veterans' Affairs, and the distinguished members of this committee, to have the privilege of appearing before you on behalf of our legislative program, and with your permission, I would like to introduce members of my staff who are present:
I would like to introduce my legislative director, Mr. John J. Harrington; Mrs. Kathryn Iverson, executive secretary, National Legislative Services; my administrative liaison assistant, Col. J. Bates Gerald, who has been mentioned; and Comdr. Rufus Arp, of Te as, director, National Convention Corp.
I would like also to introduce the editor of our paper, Leroy Chittenden; and Miss Dorothy Frooks, representing Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr., administrative assistant.
We are here speaking for approximately 230,000 veterans of World War I and some 91,000 members of the Ladies Auxiliary and specifically refer to H.R. 13215, H.R. 13217, and H.R. 13499, all seeking improvements in the present pension program for the non-service-connected veterans of World War I.
At the outset, Mr. Chairman, we want to acknowledge with appreciation the efforts of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs in placing on the benefit rolls some 1,638,000 veterans of World War I and their dependents drawing compensation or pensions. However, there are 1 million World War I veterans who are not on the benefit rolls, many of whom have income barely above the maximum allowable to draw benefits, and another group, particularly combat veterans who, because of a dearth of personnel records when abroad, have been unable to establish a service-connected claim to compensation payments.
În addition to the compensation and pension paid to the veterans of World War I mentioned above, we recognize the benefits of the World War Adjusted Compensation Act of 1934, an act designed in an attempt to equalize the pay we received as members of the Armed Forces, and the pay of many individuals who worked in private industry during the war period. The average of these adjusted compensation certificates amounted to approximately $935 each (minus the $60 all received upon discharge). However, an amendment to the act on January 27, 1936, to provide for immediate payment of the adjusted service certificates, discounted them 50 percent.
The veteran of World War I does not feel that the benefits received are commensurate with the benefits received by veterans of subsequent
Inasmuch as all veterans subsequent to the Spanish-American
War are subject to the same compensation and pension provisions, we feel that this should be taken under consideration.
We want to, once and for all time, discourage the thought and idea that the veterans of World War I are, in truth, the “forgotten veterans.”
Notwithstanding the number of veterans and dependents now on the rolls, we are mandated, and we believe can sustain our position, that an improvement and enlargement upon the benefits we are now receiving is strictly in order. Pertaining to H.R. 13215, we seek $100 per month for the single veteran of World War I, World War II, and the Korean police action who has $2,400 or less in income. We feel, in the light of existing economic conditions today, that this is not an unreasonable request. In addition, for the veteran and the dependent, we are asking $105 per month where income is equal to or less than $3,600. Additional benefits sought are increased to $115 per month for three or more dependents. In addition to these requests, we are not unmindful of the needs of the widows of veterans of World War I, World War II and the Korean police action, and herein we seek $65 per month if the income of the widow is equal to or less than $1,800, and $55 monthly in the $1,800 to $2,400 income bracket. If the widow has a dependent, we ask $80 monthly if income is equal to or less than $2,400, and $65 per month from $2,400 to $3,600 in income.
Pertaining to H.R. 13217, our organization seeks to improve on benefits payable to veterans and dependents who receive their benefit under “old part III.” Request is made for $85.05 per month for a single veteran, and $100 monthly if a veteran has a dependent, provided the veteran is 65 years of age or over. If veteran is in need of regular aid and attendance, the amount sought is in the sum of $146.30. In addition, we seek to expand the allowable income limitations from $1,400 to $2,100 in the case of a single veteran, and from $2,700 to $3,400 in the event that the veteran has a dependent. The widow is allowed $64 per month if no dependent, and $83 monthly with one dependent, and $15 for each additional dependent. The income limitations for a widow and widow with dependent are exactly the same as that in the case of the veteran and veteran with dependent.
In H.R. 13499, we are requesting that income of all kinds shall be not considered for pension purposes after the veteran attains age 72.
We are indebted to the chairman of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs for his interest shown in these three bills, and I acknowledge his gracious gesture in remembering the veterans of World War I by the introduction of two of these three measures.
In support of H.R. 13215, the President's Committee on Aging (1964) determined that an unmarried individual who has less than $1,500 in income is said to be in the "Poverty Class.” In addition, the same commission states that a veteran with a dependent that has less than $3,000 in income is also in the "poverty group.
In analyzing section 521 of title 38, United States Code, it is conceivable that a single veteran may have as little as $1,200 in income, his pension payment being his only source of income, and if said veteran has more than $600 and less than $1,200 in income, conceivably he could have as little as $1,501 in income, and if income of more than $1,200 and less than $1,800, he could have as little as $1,717 income of all kinds.
If the veteran has a dependent, it is possible that he may have as little as $1,260, his pension from the U.S. government being his only source of income, and if his outside income amounts to $1,000, but less than $2,000, he may be in the category of having total income of $1,961, and if his income is $2,000 and less than $3,000, conceivably he could have as little as $2,577.
Where the widow is concerned (sec. 541), the maximum annual income for a widow if she has no other income other than her benefit received from the U.S. Government, her income could be as little as $768 or a pension payment of $64 monthly, and if she has more than $600 and income equal to or less than $1,200, her total income could be as little as $1,177, and if income to her to the extent of $1,201 but income equal to or less than $1,800, her total income could be as small as $1,525. If the widow has a dependent, her income could be as low as $960, representing her pension at a rate of $80 monthly, and if she has more than $1,000, but income equal to or less than $2,000, income could be as limited as $1,769, and if more than $2,000 in income, but income equal to or less than $3,000, she could have as little as $2,517.
From an examination of the computations shown above, it may readily be observed that, in the case of a veteran and a widow, both could possibly be regarded in the majority of instances as being in the so-called poverty group. That is, less than $1,500 income, and in relation to the veteran or widow with dependents, in all instances, there is a possibility that the groups involved could actually receive less than those who are said to be in "poverty status"; that is, with income of less than $3,000. If we make a case for the veterans and widows under H.R. 13215, there is no need to analyze H.R. 13217, because we are asking for less benefits, and the income limitations are more restrictive for veterans and widows and their dependents. However, we might mention that this class of beneficiary has not had a substantial increase in benefit payments since 1954.
The Research Department of Diversified Investment Fund, Inc. (N.Y.) advises in a bulletin in May 1966, that a retired couple under social security, receiving benefits amounting to $120 in 1950, would have purchasing power dollars in the amount of $120 as well. However, in 1954 when benefits by that agency were raised to $147.70 monthly, the purchasing power of the 1950 dollars would be but $132.24, and, in 1966, when benefits reached a total of $168.60, the purchasing power of the 1950 dollars would be but $126.67. Surely these statistics prove the necessity of raising to a substantial degree the monthly payments to "old part III” beneficiaries, as well as an expansion in income limitations. The U.S. News & World Report of October 11, 1965, reports that in the period August 1963 to August 1965, many of the industrial workers gained as much as 23.2 percent on "real pay" after adjustment for higher living costs and lower Federal taxes. However, the veteran drawing pension or compenpensation suffered a 2.6 percent loss.
The Bureau of the Census, in a test run for the Veterans' Administration in early 1965, disclosed that 250,000 veteran unrelated individuals had under $1,500 in income for the year 1964, and 50,000 of those, or 1 out of 5 were 70 years of age or over, and those primarily all World War I veterans.