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HOSPITALIZATION AND TREATMENT
Our resolution asking for hospitalization and treatment of veterans outside the continental limits of the United States reads as follows: "We request that legislation be enacted to provide for the hospitalization and treatment of service-connected veterans of all wars residing outside of the continental limits of the United States.
It is proposed that in such legislation the Veterans' Administration make contracts not to exceed the present fee table in use by the Veterans' Administration, and that payment on such contracts be made in American dollars.
The language of the resolution is self-explanatory. Such hospitalization was provided in the World War Veterans' Act of 1924, as amended, which was repealed by Public, No. 2, the Economy Act, and this resolution asks for the reestablishment of this benefit.
H. R. 4857, introduced by Representative Lanzetta, would carry out this mandate.
We have five resolutions concerning insurance. The resolutions and bill numbers are: Resolution asking that veterans, successful in insurance suits, be awarded court costs, H. R. 5282; resolution asking that any Government insurance policy not canceled within 2 years shall be deemed incontestible on the ground of fraud in procurement, H. R. 5280; resolution asking that Congress reinstate the specific loss clause in all Government insurance policies, H. R. 4092; resolution requesting that no presumption of law arise from a veteran's delay in filing a claim for insurance benefits, H. R. 5283.
In addition to the above insurance resolutions, we have one adopted at the New York convention asking that the Attorney General have full power and authority and comprise suits on insurance, with or without defense. A resolution adopted at the Cleveland convention in 1936 asked that the Department of Justice be granted the authority to compromise all insurance cases whenever the same are filed.
To carry out the Cleveland mandate on this subject, Congressman Rankin introduced for us H. R. 5284, which would allow the Attorney General to compromise all suits on insurance; and H. R. 5281, which would
allow the Attorney General to compromise suits on term insurance. The Senate on July 22, 1937, passed a bill, S. 2383, now pending in this committee, which would authorize 'the Attorney General to compromise suits on term insurance.
Our New York resolution asks that the Attorney General have full power and authority to compromise all suits on insurance, "with or without the favorable recommendation of the United States attorney charged with the defense.” Therefore, to carry out this mandate it would be necessary to amend any of these bills-H. R. 5281, H. R. 5284, or S. 2383—so as to delete the language which would authorize the Attorney General to compromise such suits on the “recommendation of the United States attorney charged with the defense." Further, if S. 2383 should be reported, we respectfully ask that its provisions be broadened so as to include all suits on insurance, rather than limit the authority to compromise only yearly, renewable term insurance.
Whereas Public, No. 141, Seventy-third Congress, restored to the compensation rolls, with a great many exceptions, World War veterans who had been granted presumptive service connection under section 200, World War Veterans' Act, as amended, but at only 75 percent of the rates in effect for directly connected cases, and
Whereas it is believed that there should be no discrimination between this case of war veterans and others on the compensation rolls: Therefore be it
Resolved, That the American Legion in national convention assembled, in New York City, September 1937, go on record as favoring legislation which will restore the so-called presumptive cases to the full rate of compensation as provided by the 1933 and 1925 rating schedule.
H. R. 3032, introduced by Representative May on January 14, 1937, would carry this into effect.
Under Public Law No. 141, Seventy-third Congress, it will be recalled that some 21,000 presumptives were considered in fact “service connected," but were granted but 75 percent of the amount which they had been drawing instead of the full 100 percent. This resolution proposes that there be no discrimination whatsoever in the amount of compensation for such disability, thus restoring the full 100-percent compensation in these cases.
Whereas the present schedules of the Veterans' Administration provide for total ratings only for the more advanced cases of active tuberculosis; and
Whereas all men suffering from active tuberculosis should be in position to cease working and seek return to health through rest or hospitalization, but cannot do so if handicapped financially: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the American Legion, That the National Rehabilitation Committee be instructed to seek provisions of regulation or law, as may be necessary, to provide total ratings, for all active tuberculars.
Hr. R. 9067, introduced for us by Congressman Rankin, would carry this into effect.
The reasons for our request for legislation of this type is embodied in the resolution and therefore needs no comment.
WIDOWS AND ORPHANS
We have four resolutions concerning widows and other dependents of World War veterans, the first-listed, of which is No. 2, on our major legislative program. Three of these follow:
1. Be it resolved, That the American Legion in national convention assembled, September 1937, emphatically reaffirm our position in favor of the proposition “That in no event shall widows and/or dependent children of deceased World War veterans be without Government protection."
2. Whereas under existing laws the term "widow" of World War veterans as applied means only a person who was married to the veteran prior to July 3, 1931; and
Whereas the present law, instructions, and regulations are now operating to deprive deserving widows of deceased war-time disabled World War veterans of this rightful protection from the United States Government; and
Whereas there have been, and will be, thousands of World War veterans married, subsequent to the date of July 3, 1931, without any intent or thought whatever of defrauding the United States Government of compensation benefits of their widows; therefore,
Be it resolved, That the American Legion in national convention assembled in New York City, September 20–23, 1937, recommends that laws, instructions, and regulations be so amended that the term "widow" of a World War veteran shall be so construed as to mean a person who has been legally married to such veteran prior to July 2, 1941.
3. Whereas the act of Congress approved May 29, 1928, amending the World War Veterans' Act so as to authorize the continuance of compensation after the age of 18 years to children of deceased veterans pursuing courses of instruction in schools, colleges, and universities, expressly prohibits the payment of such compensation after these children reach the age of 21; and
Whereas many of these fatherless boys and girls cannot complete their college or vocational education before they reach their twenty-first birthday; and
Whereas the war orphan scholarship acts of several States permit the beneficiaries to remain in school or college until they complete the regular course of not exceeding 4 years entered upon before they become 21: Therefore be it
Resolved, That the Congress of the United States be requested to amend the act of May 29, 1928, so as to authorize the continuance of the payment of compensation until the beneficiary completes the regular course of not exceeding 4 years, provided he has entered upon such course before his twenty-first birthday.
H. R. 8893, introduced for us by Congressman Rankin on January 10, 1938, would carry these three resolutions into effect.
The bill itself, of course, is designed to meet the request contained in the first resolution, while section 3 (b) meets the second resolution. Existing law prevents the payment of compensation to a child attending a school or college after he reaches the age of 21. Section 3 (c) would change existing law so as to allow such a child to complete his school course.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY OF WIDOWS AND ORPHANS' ALLOWANCES
Following the enactment of the act of July 3, 1930, which provided allowances for World War veterans suffering from disability not connected with service, the Boston convention of the American Legion, October 6 to 9, 1930, adopted a resolution calling upon the Congress to enact legislation for widows and orphans of World War veterans who died of non-service-connected disabilities. In response to this a number of bills to grant such allowances were introduced in the succeeding Congress. These were referred to the Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation of the House of Representatives, and a hearing was held on February 13, 1931. As a result a bill was introduced and favorably reported to the House on February 18, 1931. This proposal would have provided an allowance of $26 a month for a widow with one child, with $6 for each additional child. No allowance was provided for a widow without a child. An orphan without a mother would receive $20 a month for both parents. The veteran must have entered the service prior to November 11, 1918, and have served 90 days during the World War. Under this act the term "widow" would not include any but those married to the deceased not later than 9 years after July 2, 1921.
Subsequent to the favorable report of February 18, 1931, from the World War Veterans' Legislation Committee, the bill was forwarded to the House Rules Committee, where a request was made to provide a rule to authorize a House vote upon it. No action was taken, however, and Congress adjourned 2 weeks later without the House having had an opportunity to vote upon the measure.
In 1932 the so-called Rankin bill to provide allowances for the widows and orphans of World War veterans with 90 days' service was reported from the World War Veterans' Legislation Committee on February 1 and was passed by the House on May 2 by a vote of 316 to 16. The Senate Finance Committee declined to hold hearings, and the measure failed of enactment.
This measure would have provided pensions for widows, without means of support other than her daily labor and an actual net income not exceeding $250 per year, if she was the deceased veteran's wife and living with him not less than 5 years next before his death or who married him prior to January 1, 1925.
It would have paid a widow $20 per month; and to a widow with one child $26 per month, with $6 monthly for each additional child. Payments would continue to a child until it reached the age of 16 years, or married, or during incapacity if unable to support itself by reason of mental or physical defect. In cases where no mother was living, the child would receive $20 monthly, with $6 monthly for each additional child. A dependent father or mother, 65 years old or over, would receive $15 per month, or $20 monthly for both parents.
1934-36: On June 28, 1934, Public Law No. 484 was approved which fulfilled in part the American Legion's mandate on this subject. igain on June 29, 1936, Public Law No. 844 was approved and it enlarged the group of widows and children of World War veterans to whom benefits will be paid following the death of the veteran.
Public Law No. 484, Seventy-third Congress, provided :
(a) For the surviving widow and child, or children, of the veteran who served in the World War before November 12, 1918, or if with our forces in Russia before April 2, 1920;
(6) The deceased veteran must have been receiving or entitled to receive, compensation, pension, or retirement pay for 30 percent disability, or more, directly incurred in, or aggravated by service in the World War;
(c) The veteran's death must have been from a disease or disability not service connected and not a result of his own misconduct;
(d) The act does not apply to any person during the year following any year from which such person was not entitled to an exemption from the payment of a Federal income tax;
(e) The term "widow" under this act means a person who married to the veteran prior to July 3, 1931, and who has not remarried;
(f) The term "child” means an unmarried person under 18, unless prior to reaching the age of 18 the child becomes, or has become, permanently incapable of self-support by reason of mental or physical defect.
Payments under the act are: Widow, no child, $22 a month; widow and i child $30 a month, with $4 for each additional child; one child (no widow) $15 a month; two children (no widow) $22 a month, equally divided; three children (no widow) $30 a month, equally divided, with $3 for each additional child.' Total amount to be equally divided. The total compensation not to exceed $56 a month.
Public Law 844, Seventy-fourth Congress, liberalized Public Law 484, Seventy-third Congress, to include the presumptive cases, leaving the 30 percent disability requirement as it now stands in the law and the cause of death does not enter into the entitlement of benefits.
Public Law No. 304, Seventy-fifth Congress, further liberalized Public Law No. 484, Seventy-third Congress by decreasing the percentage of disability on the part of the World War veteran at the time of his death, from 30 to 20 percent but provided the widows of World War veterans, to be entitled to compensation under the 20 percent requirement, must have had issue by the veteran.
HISTORY OF PENSIONS
The pension system of the United States perhaps was originally based upon the precedent and experience of the English and American Colonial Governments. The care of the poor, sick and maimed soldier and sailor who had served in wars had occupied the attention of European countries for several centuries. The first national soldier's relief measure in England was enacted in the Parliamentary session of 1592–93. This act provided that those who had become disabled in defense and service to their country should upon their return "be relieved and rewarded to the end that they may reap the fruit of their good deservings, and others may be encouraged to perform the like endeavors." Retirement half-pay was first granted to disabled officers of the British Army about 1697; retired officers being liable to be recalled to service. Relief to widows of deceased officers was originally extended about the same time, not by specific grant, but by the carrying of names of fictitious persons on the pay rolls and turning over the pay to the widows and orphans fund.
The first national pension law enacted in this country made provision for veterans for disability contracted while in service. A resolution of the Continental Congress of August 26, 1776, provided that an officer or soldier of the Army so disabled in the service as to be "incapable of afterwards getting a livelihood" should be paid after cessation of pay service and during the continuance of such disability one-half of his monthly pay, and that a commissioned officer, marine, and seaman on a ship of war or armed vessel who should be so disabled should be paid in the same amount and manner, except that in case of loss of a limb in an engagement in which a prize should be taken the amount of prize money received by the party so disabled should be accounted as part of his half pay.
Widows and orphans were first provided for by national enactment in a resolution of the Continental Congress adopted August 24, 1780. This resolution promised pensions of half pay for 7 years to the widow or orphaned children of officers who died, or should die, in service. It made no provision, however, for the widows and orphans of deceased noncommissioned officers and soldiers.
All national pension laws enacted from 1776 to 1818 on account of the Revolutionary War, except the act of May 15, 1778, which provided half pay to officers who served to the end of the war, provided pensions only on account of death or disability contracted in the service. Beginning in 1818 the practice grew of granting service pensions to Revolutionary War veterans, also to their surviving dependents without regard to service origin, of death or disability, and the precedent then established played an important part in the trend of legislation for the veterans and their dependents of all succeeding wars.