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WORLD WAR VETERANS' LEGISLATION
41. Skoures. Howe.
THE COMMITTEE ON
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
H. R. 8893, H. R. 8793, and H. R. 8968
TO AMEND CERTAIN LAWS AND VETERANS'
COMMITTEE ON WORLD WAR VETERANS' LEGISLATION
JOHN E. RANKIN, Mississippi, Chairman GLENN GRISWOLD, Indiana
EDITH NOURSE ROGERS, Massachusetts JOSEPH GRAY, Pennsylvania
CHARLES A. PLUMLEY, Vermont CHARLES A. BUCKLEY, New York
ALBERT J. ENGEL, Michigan JAMES J. LANZETTA, New York
CHAUNCEY W. REED, Illinois HAROLD K. CLAYPOOL, Ohio
CHARLES A. HALLECK, Indiana
JAMES C. OLIVER, Maine
WORLD WAR VETERANS' LEGISLATION
THURSDAY, JANUARY 27, 1938
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon Glenn Griswold (acting chairman) presiding.
Mr. GRISWOLD. The committee will come to order. If it is agreeable to the committee, we will dispense with the roll call this morning.
Members of the committeee, we are met, as I understand it, in the absence of Mr. Rankin, to hear statements of the commanders of the various veterans' organizations on the programs they intend to submit to Congress, and Colonel Taylor is here, and we will ask him to make a statement to us.
STATEMENT OF COL. JOHN THOMAS TAYLOR, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL
LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE, THE AMERICAN LEGION
Colonel TAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, I am looking out the door and sending someone out to see if Commander Doherty is here, and in the meantime I will just state the purpose of these hearings.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, first let me express to you our appreciation for this opportunity to come before you again on the matter of legislation for our disabled men.
The American Legion has during this session of the Congress had introduced by the chairman and various members of this committee several bills in response to resolutions adopted by our national conventions, one dealing with doing away entirely with the time limit on burial claims; another to increase the $30 allowance for permanent total nonservice connected disability; another one to give to the Administrator of the Veterans' Administration the power to invoke penalties in alleged fraud cases; and another dealing with hospitalization and treatment for veterans outside of the continental limits of the United States; another providing that court costs in successful insurance suits be taken care of by the Government; another dealing with fraud in procuring of insurance policies; another that the Congress reinstate the specific-loss clauses in all Government-insurance policies; another that no presumption under the law arises from a veteran's delay in filing a claim for insurance benefits; another providing that the Attorney General shall have the power and authority to compromise war-risk insurance suits; another providing for the full rate of compensation to be restored in presumptive cases; another for total permanent rating in active tuberculosis cases; another to
increase the allowance for dependents of men dying from serviceconnected disabilities; and one primarily upon which this hearing is to be held today, H. R. 8893, to provide compensation for all widows and orphans of veterans of the World War.
Mr. Chairman, with your permission I will just hand to the reporter my remarks on these various bills, and then at a later date, if you will permit me, I will come before the committee to testify.
Exclusive of bills asking for hospital construction, there are 16 bills pending in the Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation which would carry into effect 16 resolutions adopted at national conventions of the American Legion. Practically all of these have been introduced for us by the chairman, Congressman Rankin, and we of the American Legion would be grateful if the committee would report them at an early date so that the Congress could take action upon them during this session of Congress. One of these is our socalled widows and orphans' bill (H. R. 8893), which stands No. 2 on our major legislative program. Subsequently I shall place in the record a copy of our resolutions, together with the number of the pending bill which would carry each resolution into effect. The resolutions and bills are not listed as of their relative importance but in alphabetical order.
As you members of this committee can readily realize, thousands of resolutions requesting legislation arise in various posts of the American Legion in the course of a year throughout the Nation. All of these, of course, are not acted upon favorably by our organization at its national conventions, but the Legion, through its national committees, its service officers, and its members in the field working for and with our disabled comrades gain valuable experience as to the acts, provisions of law, rules, and regulations which work hardships on the disabled men and their dependents. Through a process of elimination, only a comparatively few resolutions are adopted by our national conventions.
The Legion, speaking for the World War veterans of this Nation, feels it is its duty to call these matters to the attention of the World War Veterans' Legislative Committee, which has proper jurisdiction of such matters, believing the committee will favorably consider our requests.
i now present our program, outlining the resolution, giving the number of the bill which would carry the resolution into effect, together with comment thereon, as follows:
Be it resolved by the American Legion in national convention assembled in New York City, September 20–23, 1937, That we go on record favoring an amendment to the present burial laws providing that the statute of limitations with regard to filing and completing claims be stricken, and that the law be further amended to provide that wherever veterans served honorably during the period of any war or insurrection and die, application by the undertakers or other persons who handle the funerals, or by persons who paid the expense of the burial, will be accepted by the Government regardless of date of death of the veteran.
Section 4 of H. R. 6380, introduced for us on April 14, 1937, by Representative Atkinson, would carry this resolution into effect.
Section 6 of Public Law 304, Seventy-fifth Congress, provides that the awards of death compensation shall be effective as of the date of death of the World War veteran if claim is filed within 1 year after the death of such veteran.
Formerly, by regulation and since March 20, 1935, by law, the time limit for filing claims for burial allowance was 1 year; with 6 months in which to perfect evidence. This resolution proposes to do away with any limit whatsoever. The sum of $100 is allowed in each case.
Also formerly, if a veteran left assets of $1,000 or more, he was not entitled to this allowance. Government insurance was not considered in the assets, but private insurance was. Under the provisions of Public Law No. 844, Seventy-fourth Congress, title IV, section 401, the provision as to a veterans' net assets was removed and under section 402, it provided claims for reimbursement must be filed within 1 year subsequent to the date of burial of the veteran and in the event the claimant's application is not complete at the time of original submission the Veterans' Administration will notify the claimant of the evidence necessary to complete the application, and if such evidence is not received within 1 year from the date of the request therefor no allowance may be paid.
DISABILITY ALLOWANCE RESOLUTION
Be it resolved, That increased dependency allowance be made for the dependents of men dying from service-connected disabilities; that this subject be carefully studied by the national officers of the American Legion, with the view of formulating a proposal to Congress for appropriate increases of such allow
H. R. 9068, introduced by Congressman Rankin for us on January 20, 1938, would carry this resolution into effect.
While this may be construed by some as a departure from the Legion's traditional policy of advocacy for those disabled by war, we want to point out the Legion did not propose the disability allowance, though it is sympathetic to all distressed. We feel, however, that inasmuch as the Government has instituted this benefit the amount of $30 per month is an inadequate amount to care for veterans actually permanently and totally disabled, and thus unable to earn even a partial livelihood for themselves, or those who depend
Be it resolved by the American Legion in national convention assembled in New York City, September 20–23, 1937, That the national headquarters of the American Legion be asked to secure the necessary change so that the Director of the Veterans' Administration may have discretionary power, in any case where the veteran himself is not at fault, to invoke penalties, if any, in cases where fraud is alleged in matter of compensation, pension, retirement pay, and insurance.
H. R. 9070, introduced by Congressman Rankin, would carry this into effect.
Other witnesses will point out the hardship the existing law works through mandatory invocation of the forfeiture clause. We believe if the Administrator of Veterans Affairs was authorized by law to invoke this provision of law, at his discretion, the ends of justice would be met more readily than under existing law.