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PENSIONS FOR PEACETIME DISABILITIES OF VETERANS
AND DEPENDENTS OF VETERANS OF THE REGULAR ESTABLISHMENT
THURSDAY, APRIL 7, 1938
UNITED STATES SENATE,
Washington, D. C. The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 10:35 a. m., in the room of the Committee on Military Affairs, the Capitol, Senator Morris Sheppard (chairman) presiding.
Present: Senators Sheppard (chairman), Logan, Minton, Miller, and Nye.
Also present: J. E. Nieman, national adjutant and legislative representative, Regular Veterans Association; Regular Frank Sobolowski, and Mrs. Mary A. Williams, national president and legislative representative, Regular Veterans Women's Association.
The Departments and Veterans' Administration were represented as follows:
War Department: Maj. B. M. Sawbridge, General Staff.
Navy Department: Commander C. H. Cobb and Capt. H. J. Abbett, Bureau of Navigation, Enlisted Personnel Division.
Coast Guard: Commander Ellis Reed Hill and Pay Clerk R. A. Carroll.
Veterans' Administration: Maj. O. W. Clark, Assistant Administrator; Hon. E. L. Bailey, Director, Dependents' Claims Service; Hon. George E. Brown, Director, Veterans Claims Service; and Hon. Guy Birdsall, legislative attorney.
The CHAIRMAN. Senator Schwartz, the author of S. 3503, called to say that in view of the fact that he is obliged to preside over another hearing this morning he regrets he will be prevented from being with us. He has discussed with me his interest in this legislation and had hoped to participate in the hearing this morning.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee has under consideration this morning S. 3503 and a copy of the bill will be set forth at this point.
(S. 3503, 75th Cong., 3d sess.) A BILL To liberalize the laws providing pensions for veterans and the dependents of veterans of the Regular Establishment for disabilities or deaths incurred or aggravated in line of duty other than in wartime
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That persons entitled to pension under the provisions of the general pension law, for service-connected disability resulting from service prior to April 21, 1898, other than in a period of war, shall be entitled to pension at monthly rates at not less than 80 per centum of the highest amount of compensation payable to World War veterans suffering with similar serviceconnected disabilities: Provided, That not less than 80 per centum of the statutory ratings and awards for specific disabilities as provided by the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended, shall be for application in such cases: Provided, further
That the monthly rate of the allowance for a nurse or attendant shall be the same as is paid to World War veterans. The occupational variant of soldier, sailor, marine, or coast guard, rather than the variant applicable to the occupation of the injured man at the time of enlistment, shall be applied in such cases when the rating schedule in effect on March 19, 1933, applicable to World War veterans, is used in adjudicating such claims.
SEC. 2. Persons entitled to pension for service-connected disability under the provisions of part II, Veterans' Regulation Numbered 1 (a), as amended, shall be entitled to pension at monthly rates of not less than 80 per centum of the highest amount of compensation payable to World War veterans suffering with similar service-connected disabilities: Provided, That not less than 80 per centum of the statutory ratings and awards for specific disabilities as provided by the World War Veterans' Act, 1924, as amended, shall be for application in such cases: Provided further, That the monthly rate of the allowance for a nurse or attendant shall be the same as is paid to World War veterans. The occupational variant of soldier, sailor, marine, or coast guard, rather than the variant applicable to the occupation of the injured man at the time of enlistment, shall be applied in such cases when the rating schedule in effect on March 19, 1933, applicable to World War veterans, is used in adjudicating such claims.
SEC. 8. Eighty per centum of the highest service-connected death-compensation rates payable to the dependents of World War veterans shall be the pension rates applicable (1) to the dependents of veterans whose death resulted from service prior to April 21, 1898, other than in a period of war, provided such dependents are otherwise entitled to pension under the provisions of the general pension law, and (2) to dependents entitled to pension under the provisions of paragraph III of part II, Veterans' Regulation Numbered 1 (a), as amended.
SEC. 4. Paragraph I of part II, Veterans' Regulation Numbered 1. (a), as amended, is hereby amended by adding a new subparagraph (d) to read as follows:
"(d) For the purposes of paragraph I (a) of part II hereof a chronic disease becoming manifest to a degree of 10 per centum or more within one year from the date of separation from active service as set forth therein shall be considered to have been incurred in or aggravated by service as specified therein, notwithstanding there is no record of evidence of such disease during the period of active service: Provided, That the person suffering from such disease served one hundred and eighty days or more in the active service as specified therein: Provided, however, That, where there is affirmative evidence to the contrary or evidence to establish that an intercurrent injury or disease which is a recognized cause of such chronic disease has been suffered between the date of discharge and the onset of the chronic disease, or the disability is due to the person's own misconduct, service connection will not be in order.'
Sec. 5. The increases of pension provided by this Act shall be effective on the 1st day of the month following the month in which this Act is enacted. This Act shall not be so construed as to reduce any pension under any Act, public or private. Nothing contained in this Act shall in any way affect the provisions of paragraph I (c), part II, Veterans' Regulation Numbered 1 (a), as amended, relative to the rate of pension if the disability or death resulted from an injury received in line of duty in actual combat in a military expedition or military occupation.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Nieman, do you wish to make a statement? Kindly give your name, address, and the organization you represent.
STATEMENT OF J. E. NIEMAN, NATIONAL ADJUTANT AND LEGIS
LATIVE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE REGULAR VETERANS ASSOCIATION, WASHINGTON, D. C.
Mr. NIEMAN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, my name is J. E. Nieman, national adjutant and legislative representative of the Regular Veterans Association, official address 1032 Seventeenth Street NW., Washington, D. C.
I might state that I have prepared my statement in mimeographed form in order that the committee might read it over and ask me what questions they desire concerning it.
Senator LOGAN. That seems to be a very good suggestion.
(Prepared statement of Mr. Nieman is as follows:)
I am J. E. Nieman, national adjutant and legislative representative of the Regular Veterans' Association, an organization composed entirely of the enlisted men, past and present, of the Regular Armed Forces of the United States and the only organization in the Nation that is for all enlisted Regulars and only for enlisted Regulars. We are composed of 16 different groups: Enlisted men now in service in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard; the retired from the four services listed above; the disabled from the four services listed above, and the ex-Regulars of the four services listed above.
Heretofore, the Regulars have had to representatives to appear before the various Government departments, and as a consequence, they have been greatly forgotten. Recommendations of the War and Navy Departments for their personnel have gone unheeded, and the Regulars have suffered and are now suffering.
The pension situation, as it confronts the line of duty disabled Regulars, and and the dependents of those deceased in line of duty, is a national disgrace, and one that is definitely and fully on the shoulders of the Seventy-fifth Congress to thoroughly consider and take steps to eliminate.
I wish to state, first, that if this bill is enacted into law that I, personally, will benefit to the amount of approximately $7 monthly, but if this fact will be held against my presentation of the cause of the disabled regulars and/or their dependents, I hereby serve notice that I waive all rights to pension for my serviceincurred disabilities.
2. Comparisons used (see exhibit D, page 8) are for the purpose of establishing the unfair, unjust, and highly discriminating laws under which the disabled Regular and/or his dependents are now compensated. We do not feel that the war-disabled are adequately compensated. With the disabled Regular receiving but approximately one-third the average compensation paid the war disabled and/or dependents, the enormity of the rotten situation under which the morale of the disabled Regular, and the men now in the service staggers becomes more apparent.
3. We blame no person or group of persons for the conditions that have led up to this disgraceful system, other than ourselves. Our troubles are our own. We have found the Nation and the Congress most anxious to rectify wrongs when facts and truths are presented them, and we come before you today to present our plea for the enactment of S. 3503, and its companion bill, H. R. 8948, a bill that will give to the disabled Regulars and/or their dependents but 80 percent of the rate of compensation established, by Congress, as a fair compensation for the disabled of the World War.
WE DO NOT EVEN ASK FOR JUSTICE
The disabled Regulars are entitled, in every respect, and under every consideration, to equal pensions for like disabilities with the war disabled. They do not receive it now as mentioned above. Compensations for disabilities are based, rightly, on disabilities incurred, and not on risks assumed. There is no justification for paying a man who served in a training camp during the World War, and thousands of miles from the enemy, $105 for the loss of a leg or an arm, and paying a Regular with a like disability incurred in the Panay sacrilege, the explosion aboard the U. S. S. Augusta, plane crashes, etc., $37 for the same disability; nor paying the widow of one $30 a month and the widow of the Regular but $22, the mother of one, $25, and of the other, but $15.
As a matter of fact, gentlemen, an investigation of the records will disclose the astonishing fact that the percentage of service-incurred disabilities in the Regular Establishment, today, are greater than during the World War-condition for condition, and service for service. And, there is none that will gainsay the fact that the man serving in the Regular Establishment today and his dependents are the finest of Americans this Nation has ever produced.
Not only this, but the man serving today is saving scores of lives, in the event of a war, through his 24-hour a day participation in war and naval games which establish beyond question the most effective maneuvers for offensive and defensive action.
The treatment now accorded the Regular who becomes disabled in line of duty, and his dependents in the event of his death, sets them up as inferior Americans, doing inferior work and so entitled to inferior treatment—which they do receive.