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If we do not provide a sufficient incentive to attract capable and able people that can be trusted to guide the defenses of this Nation, why certainly we are pursuing a dangerous and unwise policy.
The Veterans of Foreign Wars have consistently stood for what we consider to be a more equitable rate of compensation for widows, children, and dependent parents.
I should like to read from a resolution of our last encampment, the recommendations of our organization for a change in rates:
Widow, with no child, $100 per month.
Those are the recommendations of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in accordance with the mandates of our last encampment on that particular question.
I believe that is all I have to say, Mr. Chairman, unless the committee has some questions they would like to ask.
Mrs. ROGERS. May I make this comment? It seems to me the amputees, the single amputees, should have, as I said before, increased compensation. They have not only the injury which I think is very severe, but they have the question of torn clothing as the result of their having to wear prosthetic appliances. That is costly.
Mr. DoWNER. Mrs. Rogers, I agree with you. I am sure Mr. Richter, an amputee who is in the hearing room, would perhaps agree with much more forcefully than I do.
Mrs. ROGERS. I know his very fine record, how helpful he has been to the disabled, how fine he is. I have known him a long time.
Mr. RADWAN. Do you have any question? If not, thank you.
CHARLES E. FOSTER, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION
OF DISABLED AMERICAN VETERANS, ACCOMPANIED BY CICERO HOGAN, DIRECTOR OF CLAIMS
Mr. Foster. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I understand we are here this morning to complete the testimony on the bill which your subcommittee has under consideration.
Mr. RADWAN. That is right.
Mr. FOSTER. You recall last week we commented on a number of these bills. Without taking further time, I would like to turn the testimony over to our national director of claims, who will give the committee the bills on which they have had national mandates.
Mr. Hogan. I think I can save time by not reading from the statement here. I will try to answer any question you gentlemen want to ask.
Complying with your suggestion, I would like to refer to our position on H. R. 37. This bill seeks to grant to the veteran rated from 10 to 49 percent the full amount of compensation as the degree of his disability bears to the total disability. This was the law from 1917 and was a fair and equitable method on which all ratings of the Veterans Bureau and Veterans' Administration was based. Not until last year, with the passage of Public Law 356, 82d Congress, was this accepted method disturbed. At that time those rated 50 percent or more received a 15-percent increase while those rated 10 to 49 percent were
given an increase of but 5 percent. It has unjustly affected thousands of veterans drawing benefits in the lower brackets. It creates confusion and inequalities in the application of the VA rating schedule and, in our opinion, adversely influences rating agencies in the granting of increased awards.
H. R. 37 seeks to correct a real injustice and restore the method of rating as provided in the original act, Public Law 90 of the 65th Congress, which established monthly rates of compensation for service-connected disabilities providing
If and while the disability is partial, the monthly compensation shall be a percentage of the compensation that would be payable for his (the claimant's) total disability, equal to the degree of the reduction in earning capacity resulting from the disability, but no compensation shall be payable for a reduction in earning capacity at less than 10 per centum.
The present rating schedule as well as previous rating schedules used by the Veterans Administration were created and compiled with the long-accepted principles as declared by Public Law 90 of the 65th Congress, quoted above, and accepted by the VA, Congress, and the veteran organizations with this understanding. It was never intended that half of the ratings should be based on a percentage of one amount of compensation and one-half of the ratings should be based on another amount.
All of the claimants adversely affected by Public Law 356 are wartime service-connected veterans. The passage into law of H. R. 37 will correct this injustice and the equitable and long-accepted method rating the cases from 10 to 100 percent be restored.
H. R. 48 proposes an amendment to Public Law 877, 80th Congress, as amended by section 4, Public Law 339, 81st Congress, and would extend the payment of compensation for certain veterans with serviceconnected disabilities who have dependents so as to include those veterans whose service-connected disability is rated as not less than 10 percent.
With the passage of Public Law 877 by the 80th Congress, a longawaited advance in the payment of additional compensation to the service-connected veteran was established. The DAV was happy over this outcome but keenly disappointed in that it limited the benefit to veterans otherwise entitled drawing 60 percent or more compensation. Approved October 10, 1949, section 4 of Public 339, 81st Congress, amended the law to include those veterans rated not less than 50 percent. The DAV, as stated, has fought long and patiently for the establishment of the principle of added compensation to wartime disabled with dependents. The House passed a bill extending these benefits to include those claimants drawing 40 percent or more. We have always believed it to be sound and equitable legislation. We are grateful for what has been accomplished but we hope that this committee in the interest of uniformity approves of H. R. 48 and speeds its enactment into law.
May I here ask your careful consideration of that part of H. R. 43 which would grant the increase in death compensation, denied last year, to the surviving widow of any deceased person who died as the result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by active military service in time of war, and to that provision in H. R. 2469 which would grant a comparable increase, also denied last year, to the dependent mother or father of any deceased person who died as a result of injury
or disease incurred in active military or naval service during time of
For some unexplainable reason the widow of a war casualty without children was not included in the provisions of Public Law 356, 82d Congress. Even more difficult to understand was the failure of this same law to include the dependent mother or father of the man or woman who died in battle or who died as a result of his service-connected disabilities. In both instances these beneficiaries are the victims of war, for war has struck at their very hearts. The widow of the war casualty without child or children should not be neglected or forgotten. Who can say how many children she would have borne her soldier husband had he returned from the war?
Again, are we to neglect in the name of economy the widowed mother or the aging parents of our war heroes? Remember as always the surviving parent or parents must prove dependency. In all too many cases these old people have every right to believe their boy would have cared for them or at least would have lightened the load of their aging years had war not taken him from their midst. I am sure this committee will agree with the DAV that this is the wrong place to economize.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, this closes our presentation of the bills we asked to appear before this committee on. We thank you and the members of this committee for the opportunity extended to the DAV permitting us to present our views and arguments supporting these bills. May we, in closing, call your attention to the fact that our requests are chiefly in the nature of remedial legislation and offered with the hope that in the interest of equity and uniformity existing benefits be extended to most worthy disabled veterans and equally deserving dependents.
Mr. RADWAN. Do you have any questions, Mr. Secrest?
Mr. RADWAN. Thank you, very much. Thank you, Mr. Foster, Mr. Wilson.
RUFUS H. WILSON, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE AND SERVICE
Mr. Wilson. My name is Rufus H. Wilson, national legislative and service director, AMVETS. On April 15, Mr. John R. Holder of our office appeared and inserted a statement into the record. I am going to refer very briefly to that statement, then conclude my testimony.
We favor the bills which would increase compensation to the extent that there would be a prorated increase for those veterans drawing disability from 10 to 49 percent.
We believe that the rating schedule as presently used by the Veterans' Administration is a very good schedule. That schedule provides for the payment of compensation on a prorated basis of 10 to 100 percent.
The law that was passed last year, Public Law 356, by limiting the increase in compensation of 15 percent to those veterans 50- to 100percent disabled, actually resulted in a 10-percent veteran being only 8y-percent disabled, a 20-percent disabled veteran only 1774 percent
disabled, a 30-percent veteran only 27-percent disabled, and a 40percent veteran only 36-percent disabled.
We feel it vitally necessary for the Congress to correct what we believe was created by the passage of Public Law 356—a serious inequity.
We also believe that widows with no other dependents should receive an increase in compensation, inasmuch as they were left out of the bill
We believe the increased cost of living has affected every
For that reason we believe these widows who were apparently overlooked should also be included in the compensation increase.
There have been extended comments this morning on the bilis before you. I will not take up the time of the committee any further on those particular matters.
However, I would like to refer briefly to the bill by Mr. Teague of Texas to pay compensation in the 10- and 20-percent brackets on a quarterly rather than a monthly basis. At our recent national executive committee meeting in New York, a resolution was passed wherein we adopted a policy that we would support this proposal. In adopting that policy, we fully realized that there might be some instances when some small amount of disservice might be done to the veterans drawing 10- to 20-percent compensation.
However, we cannot help but believe if there was any inconvenience it would not be except for the first month, and that thereafter the veteran would adjust himself, resulting in no inconvenience following that first month.
According to Veterans' Administration figures, approximately 40 percent of the veterans receiving compensation receive 10 percent and another 17 percent receive 20 percent. Booz, Allen & Hamilton have estimated that approximately $1 million could be saved annually if this bill were passed.
It seems to us that if we can support a proposal that can save a million dollars a year, we should by all means do so, if we can do it without actually reducing service. If the committee does not see fit to approve such a bill as Mr. Teague's proposal, we would recommend they seriously consider at least approving a bill taking into consideration the 10 percent veteran, which would be 40 percent of all the compensation checks mailed out monthly.
If they will not do that, even though we hope they will, we at least hope they will pass a bill giving the Veterans' Administration the authority to pay compensation in the 10- to 20-percent classes on a quarterly basis, if the veteran agrees.
All three proposals, we believe, have considerable merit. We, of course, favor the 10 and 20 percent being mailed quarterly AMVETS believe we have an obligation to tighten our belts to help in some manner in reaching a balanced budget and reduction of taxes; if it can be done partly in this manner in a way which we believe will not actually reduce service, then we are in support of such a proposal.
Mr. Radwan. Thank you, Mr. Wilson. You are always very helpful to this committee.
Since we have a little time, I wonder if perhaps you wouldn't perhaps be good enough to indulge in some out loud thinking with the committee, because you were here when I put a question to Mr. Stephens about what obstacles we have to face in getting through any legislation, which increases veterans' benefits.
Mr. Wilson. Yes, sir.
Mr. Radwan. Most of the memoranda that have been furnished to the committee in the form of letters to the chairman by Carl Gray will have this statement:
Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that although there is no objection
I had reference to most of the old bills here. This is the usual phrase:
In the event of enactment of the bill, it is estimated that approximately 65,000 widows would be entitled to increased benefits at a cost of approximately $9,197,000 for the fiscal year 1954. Advice has been received from the Bureau of the Budget that although there is no objection to the submission of the proposed report to the committee, the Bureau of the Budget recommends against the favorable consideration of this legislation by the committee.
Do you have any comments with respect to such recommendation on the part of the Bureau of the Budget?
Mr. Wilson. Yes, I do, Mr. Radwan, even though we cannot agree a great many times with the recommendation of the Bureau of the Budget, we in AMVETS believe we would be much less than realistic if we did not take note of the fact that the Congress this year is out to reduce the budget. They are out this year to reduce taxes. In our opinion, no one can argue that this is not a laudable objective.
Our position historically has been and is today that we do not favor legislation cutting veterans' services. Our position is also that we want the present compensation structure of the Veterans' Administration improved and perfected.
We believe this, that these widows that were left out of the compensation increase bill last year were inadvertently left out. We cannot believe that the Congress did not see that they, too, had been affected by the increased cost of living.
We also believe that the compensation-increase bill that limited the 15-percent increase to 50- to 100-percent disabled was not a sound legislative proposal, inasmuch as for all practical intents and purposes, it destroyed the intent of the 1945 rating schedule.
To get to your basic question, AMVETS have recently presented a program to the President of the United States, which we believe will save some money in the Veterans' Administration. One proposal was that dental care be drastically curtailed. Last year some 40 percent of all the out-patient veterans treated in the Veterans' Administration received dental care only. We don't say that dental care is not a nice benefit, not a nice thing to have. We do say, however, that when there is an opportunity to effect an economy without lessing of service, that benefit can well be drastically curtailed.
We have called for other proposals that will save money for the Federal Government, including this 10- to 20-percent proposal.
That doesn't mean for a minute that we don't like all these benefits. We do. But we believe the 20,000,000 veterans have as great a stake in the solvency of this Nation as any one else. We think that if we can make some proposals, tighten our belts, and do a few things to show the people of this Nation that the vets, too, are interested in the economy of this Nation, that in the final analysis we will end up with a well-rounded program for veterans that will be a source of pride to all the people in the country.