« PreviousContinue »
Mr. HINSHAW. I think at this point in the record, Mr. Gillilland, we will insert your letter of June 15, 1954, to Mr. Wolverton, the chairman of the full committee. (The letter referred to follows:)
WAR CLAIMS COMMISSION,
Washington, D. C., June 15, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. WOLVERTON : Further reference is made to your request of February 4, 1954, for the views of the War Claims Commission on H. R. 7711, a bill to provide for a study of the mental and physical consequences of malnutrition and starvation suffered by prisoners of war and civilian internees during World War II and the hostilities in Korea.
The bill is identical with S. 2901, 83d Congress. It is similar to, though not identical with S. 513 and H. R. 304 in the 82d Congress and S. 3903 and H. R. 8848 in the 81st Congress. S. 513 was favorably reported by the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare October 12, 1951, but did not pass in the Senate. Its companion measure, H. R. 304, was passed by the House, April 2, 1951. No further action was taken on these measures in the 82d Congress. The present Commission concurs, in general, with that report insofar as it would apply to H. R. 7711.
H. R. 7711 would authorize the War Claims Commission, with the cooperation and assistance of the Administrator of Veterans Affairs and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, and within the limits of funds authorized to be appropriated, to arrange for the conduct of medical and scientific research for the purpose of determining mortality rates and other mental and physical consequences of improper treatment of American prisoners of war and civilian internees. It would require the Commission to report the results of such study to the Congress, and authorize the agencies named to use the information obtained in determining certain diagnostic procedures and standards in mental and physical cases, like expectancy and eligibility of former prisoners of war for hospitalization, and in addition, the standards to be applied for the evaluation of claims of American civilian internees or prisoners of war based upon the mental and physical consequences of their internment or imprisonment.
The views of the War Claims Commission with respect to the measure are as follows:
1. The functions assigned to the Commission by the War Claims Act of 1948, as amended, fell int) two major categories. Under section 8 of the act, the Commission was directed to “inquire into and report to the President, for submission of such report to the Congress * * * with respect to war claims arising out of World War II other than claims which may be received and adjudicated under * * * this [War Claims] Act.” Under sections 5, 6 and 7 of the act, the Commission was given jurisdiction to settle certain civilian internee, prisoner of war and religious property claims arising out of World War II. Thus, it became both an investigative agency and a claims settlement agency. While the Commission is now primarily a claims settlement agency, the effect of the bill would be to extend the Commission's study and reporting functions into a field unrelated to its primary functions. H. R. 7711 is essentially, welfare legislation.
2. One of the objectives sought in the bill is the determination of a future policy on war claims arising from the consequences of the mistreatment of war prisoners and civilians interned in past of future wars. The bill provides, for example, that the results of the contemplated study shall be used by the War Claims Commission and other cooperating agencies as standards to be applied in the evaluation of claims based upon the physical and mental residuals of the conditions of imprisonment in the event such claims are later made compensable. The Commission's experience in the settlement of more than 400,000 claims of a related nature should prove helpful in making such determination.
3. In the preparation of its report to the President pursuant to section 8 of the War Claims Act, the predecessor Commission conducted a limited survey of the consequences of malnutrition and other mistreatment of former prisoners of war and recommended to the Congress legislation similar to that contained in the subject bill. In the course of that survey many cases of mental and physical disability were reported by former prisoners of war, both military and civilian, and it was evident, from information furnished by medical personnel who themselves were prisoners of war, that the after effects of such imprisonment are to a degree similar among such prisoners and that medical science was not then prepared to cope with the problems presented. The present Commission believes there has been some advancement made as a result of research by several public and private agencies during the past few years, although it is not in a position to appraise the results of such research.
4. The War Claims Commission agrees with the predecessor Commission that basic humanitarian concepts indicate that an inquiry of the type provided by H. R. 7711 should be made; that the inquiry should be competently coordinated in order to eliminate duplication of effort and to cover the widest possible scope. There are manifest advantages to be derived from such a study both to the Government and to the public at large. Valuable data could no doubt be obtained for use in discharging hospitalization, rehabilitation and treatment services and new curative discoveries with respect to certain types of illness or disabilities are not beyond possibility.
5. At the present time the Commission is not staffed with personnel qualified to conduct the scientific studies contemplated by the bill. In the opinion of the Commission this fact does not present a serious problem. If the Congress were to act favorably on the measure, the Commission believes it could readily secure the services of any professional consultants necessary to its participation without adding materially to the regular working force. Additions of scientific personnel to this agency staff would in any event be nominal in view of the provisions of the bill for a joint undertaking with the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. It would be expected that agreement should be reached among them as to the appropriate duties to be carried out by each of the indicated agencies. The committee may wish to consider the fact, however, that the Veterans Administration and the Department of Health, Education and Welfare may be well equipped to carry out together the assignment provided for in the bill without the participation of the War Claims Commission,
6. It is believed that the prospective costs of participation in the study by the War Claims Commission would be relatively small although an entirely reliable estimate cannot be made until the scope and administrative pattern is determined. It would appear from the bill that the Commission's primary function would be administrative in nature; that it would be limited to "making arrangements” for the study in cooperation with the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs and the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, and that it would be the sole reporting agency. The compilation of the report might require a small addition to the present working force.
For the foregoing reasons, the War Claims Commission recommends favorable consideration of the bill, H. R. 7711.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that while there is no objection to the submission of this report, it concurs in the views which the Veterans' Administration has expressed with respect to S. 2901, an identical bill. Sincerely yours,
WHITNEY GILLILLAND, Chairman Mr. HINSHAW. We also have a letter from the Department of State, which we will include in the record. (The letter referred to follows:)
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
Washington, June 16, 1954. Hon. CHARLES A. WOLVERTON, Chairman, Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. WOLVERTON: Further reference is made to your letter of February 4, 1954, transmitting for the Department's comments a copy of H. R. 7711, a bill to provide for a study of the mental and physical consequences of malnutrition and starvation suffered by prisoners of war and civilian internees during World War II and the hostilities in Korea.
The proposed bill would authorize and direct the War Claims Commission in cooperation with the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs and the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare to make all necessary arrangements for the conduct of medical and scientific research activities with respect to the effects of imprisonment and detention upon the physical and mental condition of American military personnel and civilians by enemies of the United States during World War II or by forces with which the United States has been engaged in armed conflict after June 25, 1950. The proposed bill would also direct the War Claims Commission to report to the President for transmittal to the Congress the results of such research activities. H. R. 7711 would require that the findings of the research studies be used by the War Claims Commission, the Veterans' Administration, and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare for the purpose of determining: “(1) the procedures and standards to be applied in the diagnosis of the mental and physical condition of former prisoners of war; (2) the life expectancy of former prisoners of war; (3) whether there is evidence to sustain a conclusive presumption of service connection in favor of former prisoners of war for purposes of hospitalization in Veterans' Administration facilities; and (4) standards to be applied for the evaluation of claims of American civilian and military personnel based upon the physical and mental consequences of the conditions of their imprisoment, in the event such claims are later made compensable.
Section 2 of the proposed bill would authorize the appropriation of the necessary funds to carry out its provisions.
The Department is in sympathy with efforts to assure that adequate research is being conducted by this Government for the first three purposes specified in the proposed bill. However, the Department is not in a position to judge whether adequate research is being conducted under programs of the Veterans' Administration and other Government agencies, or whether legislation is needed to provide for the conduct of such research. If it be assumed that legislation is needed, there are reasons to doubt that the War Claims Commission would be the proper agency to make the necessary arrangements for the conduct of the desired research. Research for the first three purposes specified in the bill may have to extend far beyond the life of the Commission, which is required to wind up its affairs not later than March 31, 1955.
The fourth purpose for which the bill proposes that research be conducted is, in effect, to determine whether there are claims of American prisoners of war and civilian internees, not now compensable, which the Congress may wish to make compensable. The desirability of such research depends on the extent to which claims based upon the impairment of the physical and mental condition of American military personnel and civilians as a consequence of their imprisonment and detention by enemies of the United States during World War II or by forces with which the United States has been engaged in armed conflict after June 25, 1950, are authorized to be paid under existing legislation, or may be authorized to be paid under legislation already recommended to the Congress by the War Claims Commisison.
It is the understanding of the Department that the Veterans' Administration is authorized to grant to former prisoners of war medical care and hospitalization at Government expense for ailments which they have contracted as a con. sequence of their imprisonment, and to grant them compensation for injury or disability sustained as a consequence of their imprisonment. It is also understood that the Bureau of Employees' Compensation of the Department of Labor is authorized to grant comparable benefits to American civilians who were captured by the enemy in the Philippines, or in any Territory or possession of the United States, or while in transit to or from any such place. The Department considers it unlikely that research would show that there are claims of the character comprehended in H. R. 7711 which the Congress would wish to make compensable, and which are not compensable under existing legislation.
For the above-mentioned reasons the Department is not in a position to recomment the enactment of the proposed bill.
The Department has been informed by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection to the submission of this report. Sincerely yours,
THRUSTON B. MORTON,
(For the Secretary of State). Mr. HINSHAW. They do not have too much to say, but they had a number of people in detention for some period of time. I believe most of them were removed on the Gripsholm from the Philippines. However, they had quite a series of experiences in the Department of State.
We will still have to hear from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Public Health Service. I do not know where they are at the present time.
I hope, Mr. Daley, that you will discuss this with Mr. Higley in the light of not only the testimony here but the humaneness, and so forth, and that he will concur that this ought to be a joint study. I think it ought to be under a separate board of medical people. Probably the National Health or National Science group or something of that sort should conduct this study.
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, the National Research Council is conducting a study that the Veterans' Administration has initiated. The department of medicine and surgery of the Veterans Administration is a statutory organization employing a tremendous amount of medical talent and scientific ability, pursuant to the wishes of the Congress that the Veterans Administration have a department of medicine and surgery, and the majority of the employees of the Veterans' Administration are engaged in the medical care and hospital program.
I have to say this for the record. There is a vast amount of research that is being done every day and all of the records of all of the veterans who are either treated or hospitalized or file claims with the Veterans Administration are assembled and segregated. There is a considerable amount of source material which is being worked over at all times.
The Veterans Administration, Mr. Chairman, is not—and I hope you will not think they are—taking an adverse position concerning any proposal which the Congress sees fit to enact. If it is the wish of the Congress that this study or these studies be pursued along the lines which in your wisdom you conceive to be the best method, then the Veterans' Administration will, of course, abide by the will of Congress.
Mr. HINSHAW. We want to find some means, and we hope as quickly as possible. We do not want to run into a protracted study over a period of time, but as quickly as possible. We want to resolve the few questions which have been brought before us and, in order to do that we have to have some medical reports, statistical if you like; yes—that is to say, studies of sample groups.
In the Public Health Service, as far as the civilian internees are concerned, there is a limit to the amount of benefits that they may draw. They cannot draw like in the Veterans Administration so much a month for life. Thev draw a total of $7,500 and that is the end.
Should we provide for an additional amount for those who live longer than that, or should we perhaps transfer them to your care if they were prisoners of war and are disabled, or should we do something else? We do not know. That is the reason we want to make this study.
Mr. SCHENCK. Mr. Chairman, it would appear to me, from reading the beginning of this H. R. 7711, that the purpose here is to combine these various studies or coordinate them into an understandable whole.
Mr. HINSHAW. That is the idea.
The Department of Labor is here, and Bureau of Employees' Compensation
Mr. McCauley, can you add something to this?
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM MCCAULEY, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF EM
PLOYEES' COMPENSATION, ACCOMPANIED BY WARD BOOTE, ATTORNEY, LEGISLATIVE BRANCH, OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Mr. McCAULEY. I have nothing particular to add to that unless we can supply information that the committee may wish.
Mr. HINSHAW. I think we are going to have to call on you again. I think we will have to do that, if you will excuse us. I hope you have found this an interesting and profitable session this morning.
Mr. McCAULEY. The subject has been very interesting, because we have been handling the medical care of these civilian American citizens of the War Claims Act. Mr. HINSHAW. I think we will have to carry this thing over.
I understand your Department has a statement in the record already.
Mr. McCAULEY. Yes.
Mr. Daley. Mr. Chairman, do you want a further statement from the Administrator of Veterans Affairs?
Mr. HINSHAW. I would. I would like their wholehearted cooperation. If I cannot get it we may have to do it anyhow, but I would like to have the word that the Veterans’ Administration will cooperate wholeheartedly:
Mr. DALEY. Mr. Chairman, I have tried to make it clear that the Veterans' Administration is cooperating and will continue cooperating.
Mr. HINSHAW. I would like your cooperation in a joint study. The study becomes joint by virtue of all the material being assembled in one place and analyzed.
Mr. DALEY. We submit that at the moment we are ready and willing to do anything and everything looking to the objective which the bill seeks.
We are making researches for veterans. After all, the Veterans' Administration is the agency established by Congress to undertake and administer the veterans' program.
Mr. HINSHAW. That is right.
Mr. DALEY. To a certain extent our research is extended to ther agencies. Our primary duty and function is the care of veterans and the reception and adjudication of their claims. In that field we are making research.
If further research, or implementing research is desired by the Congress, you will find the Veterans' Administration, of course, will cooperate.
Mr. HINSHAW. I understand, and I appreciate that, but research has to cut off every so often and something be done about it. Just like the building of airplanes, the designing of airplanes has to be cut off and you start building airplanes, about every so often, and it seems to me that now is the time for a cutoff at the Veterans' Administration, temporarily, and is the time to issue a regulation. That is my opinion. It is up to you fellows to make a decision.
Mr. DALEY. Thank you, sir.