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sult in a strong affirmative legislative program to give real meaning to jobs, education, and readjustment for our country's veterans.

I want to take note of the fact that on the floor of the House of Representatives that my cochairman on the other side, Chairman Teague, was able to have them insert into the bill on public service employment opportunities a provision which gave veterans preference.

Do you have an opening statement, sir?

Senator HANSEN. No, I don't, except to say how pleased I am to be here this afternoon and anticipate hearing from people who know, people who have been through the wars, have fought wars, to hear what your suggestions are as to the steps this Government should properly take in order to discharge as best we can our responsibilities to those who have served us so well.

I want to welcome you, Mr. Rainwater. We appreciate the great job you have done and the authority with which you speak for all veterans. I am most eager to hear your statement.

The CHAIRMAN. Before we hear from Commander Rainwater, I think Cooper Holt would like to have the opportunity to introduce some men on their staff.

Mr. Holt. With your permission, I would like to introduce the great legislative director of the VFW, Francis Stover; and Bob Ashworth. on the end; he doesn't happen to be a Vietnam veteran, but he looks like one. He is the assistant director of the National Rehabilitation Service.

On the front row we do have some members of our staff who are Vietnam veterans, Mr. Chairman. I would like to introduce them. The first one I hope you will take note has long hair and he is still around, Frank Clark, the next one is Brad Fountain, the next one is Andy Jakubowsky, and the last one here is John Hurley.

I would also like to announce, Mr. Chairman, that our organization has a service called the national security and foreign affairs. It is one of the most important services in our organization, and we do have as director of that service a young 26-year-old Vietnam veteran. His name is Tony McDonald. His work requires that he be over at the Pentagon this afternoon, but I wanted to present him to the Senators of this committee.

The CHAIRMAN. For those individuals who think this is an unusual hour of the day to be holding a committee meeting, I would say it is the only possible time where we could arrange where I could be present and Commander Rainwater could be present before he left town, and I think it is for the mutual convenience of all.

Commander, we are looking forward to your statement. STATEMENT OF H. R. RAINWATER, COMMANDER IN CHIEF,



Mr. RAINWATER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Chairman, and members of the committee: It is a great honor and privilege to appear before this subcommittee to present the views of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States respecting readjustment and other assistance for returning Vietnam veterans.

Many have expressed surprise to learn that one-fourth of the membership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars are Vietnam veterans. Presently, our membership is at an alltime high or over 1.6 million veterans. Approximately 450,000 of these members have served during this Vietnam era. So far as I know there are more Vietnam members who are members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars than any other veterans' organization in the Nation. In this context I come before this subcommittee as a spokesman for the largest number of Vietnam veterans who belong to a veterans' organization. I believe that the reason we have so many Vietnam veterans who have joined our organization is because we have been the leading organization in behalf of legislation and programs to help these veterans upon their discharge and separation from active duty service and return to civil life.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars is not a Johnny-come-lately respecting Vietnam veterans. On the contrary, the record is replete and continuous respecting our efforts to help post-Korean veterans. It was back on January 31, 1955, that the Korean GI bill was ended by Presidential proclamation. The following August the delegates to our national convention expressed their unanimous disappointment and disagreement with this position when it called upon the President and the Congress to continue GI bill benefits for those citizens who were making the extra sacrifice by serving in the Armed Forces during the cold war. Subsequently, our organization was the first major veterans' organization to go on record to advocate what was then called the cold war GI bill. It was here in the Senate that we found a valiant spokesman in favor of this VFW goal-Senator Yarborough of Texas. He was to be the Senate leader in behalf of our efforts in this regard.

Opposition to a cold war GI bill came from many sources. However, the Vietnam war changed everything respecting this program.

Even then it was a watered-down GI bill compared with previous GI bills. In 1966 one of the first acts passed by the Congress was the third GI bill. Unlike previous GI bills this one is open-ended. In other words, the benefits do not have a built-in termination date and will continue indefinitely. In 1968 the GI bill was broadened and made comparable to the Korean GI bill by authorizing on-the-job, on-thefarm and flight training. However, this is only a small part of the VFW story respecting our efforts in behalf of Vietnam veterans. As

you know, membership in the Veterans of Foreign Wars is limited to veterans who have served overseas during wartime or during a campaign or expedition for which a badge or medal was authorized. The Armed Forces has been awarding Armed Forces Expeditionary Medals to servicemen serving in Vietnam since 1958. This was the year the first so-called Vietnam veteran became a member of the VFW. It was in 1961 that the first casualty of the Vietnam war occurred. From that year on, the VFW pressed for a full range of veterans' rights and benefits for veterans of this war. After all, only a small handful of Americans were having their lives disrupted by serving in the Armed Forces in places like Vietnam and all over the world. However, it was to be several years before Congress finally extended all veterans' bene

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fits to veterans of the Vietnam era. The VFW contends that the full range of veterans' benefits should be extended to those who have served in overseas and combat situations in the Southeastern Asia theater since 1961. The Congress did not adopt our recommendation and has limited veterans' benefits to those who have served since the Bay of Tonkin incident-August 4, 1964.

The CHAIRMAN. I think you are exactly 100-percent right. There is no reason for that omission, and I am hopeful we will be able to correct that. If you know of any opposition along that line, let us know and we will try to soften it so we can get the job done.

Mr. RAINWATER. Thank you, sir. These are a few examples of the effort made by the VFW in behalf of our comrades who have served overseas and in Vietnam during the long years of the cold war and the Vietnam era conflict. Time does not permit me to give a complete rundown of every action taken in behalf of Vietnam veterans by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. The VFW has spent years of continuous effort in behalf of those who have been making the extra sacrifice in the national interest by serving in the Armed Forces during the cold war and Vietnam war.

Mr. Chairman, there are many veterans' groups in America today. There is much confusion in the ranks of the public concerning who is speaking for whom. There is much rhetoric in the press and in the news media about veterans and who they are. Fortunately the Congress and the administration know that there are established, congressionally chartered veterans' organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, whose aims and purposes are clear and a matter of record for many years. The purpose of the Veterans of Foreign Wars is to serve his fellow veteran and his dependent. That's what makes our organization unique from all other types of similar organizations. Service is the essence of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. True, a great number of our members and the general veterans' population never need help of any kind in the way of veterans' assistance. Every day thousands throughout the Nation call upon the VFW in an hour of great need to help them respecting one of the rights or benefits granted by grateful Congresses.

Veterans' programs in recent years have not been given the highest priority. The VFW has always contended that the cost of veterans' programs is merely an extension of the costs of war. Accordingly, there should be the same priority consideration for adequate rights and benefits for veterans as there is for supplying the troops who are doing the fighting and dying in Vietnam. There have always been antiveteran officials in high places. From time to time they have been able to gain the upper hand and have curtailed and even attempted to terminate veterans' rights and benefits through the budgetary process and the carrying out of administration programs. In recent years, inflation has made deep inroads on veterans' programs. Failing to give high priority to liberalizing and improving veterans' programs has helped to further erode some veterans' rights and benefits. More basic, however, has been a fundamental change in our society, which was brought about by the so-called revolution of the 1960's with respect to education, welfare and social programs in behalf of citizens in general without regard to their contribution to a society.

It was against this background that the VFW has been waging so far a successful uphill battle. It has been our top priority goal to keep


veterans' programs separate. This is the way it has always been and so far as the VFW is concerned shall always be. However, we know that we must have the Congress behind this if we are to win the battle in the long run. This is why the VFW has insisted that assistance for the Vietnam veteran must be a veterans' program and not be buried in a general program for all citizens.

The VFW is aware that the returning Vietnam veteran is a young man who is just starting out in life. Many, of course, have had some education and training before entering the Armed Forces. However, the majority have no basic job training or skills which are applicable to civilian society; in fact, many are described as “dropouts” or “disadvantaged." These terms have crept into the vernacular of veterans' programs, much to the consternation of the VFW. I say this because to us a veteran is a veteran regardless of the war in which he served and regardless of race, creed, or color.

So far as we are concerned it makes no difference what is the economic, social, racial or other background or inheritance of the veteran. The test is whether or not this person is a veteran who served honorably in the Armed Forces of the United States for which Congress has authorized benefits and assistance to which he is entitled.

So it is with the veterans of Vietnam. We know that these veterans are in need of jobs, housing, training, education, and adequate hospital care. The VFW will be presenting a statement to your Subcommittee on Health and Hospitals tomorrow so I will not dwell on this aspect except to say this.

The VFW is shocked that the 1972 fiscal year VA budget sent to the Congress in February calls for a drastic reduction in VA hospital care. I just want the record to show that the VFW is leaving no stone unturned in our efforts to have the President restore and Congress reject this cut in veterans' health care and provide adequate funds and personnel for VA hospitals. Returning wounded and disabled Vietnam veterans should have the highest quality medical care. These veterans have already made one sacrifice in the national interest by their service in Vietnam. They should not be required to make a second sacrifice at the expense of their health. In addition, we are highly concerned with the high rate of drug addiction among returning Vietnam veterans.

The VFW was the first organization to recommend VA contact officers go to Vietnam to apprise servicemen about to be discharged of their VA rights and benefits. We are proud that this recommendation was carried out and has been extended to separation centers, hospitals, and all other places that veterans are separated from the Armed Forces. The Veterans of Foreign Wars lent its full weight behind the establishment of U.S. veterans assistance centers. These are in addition to contact offices and are primarily intended to help veterans in inner cities. The VFW has lent its full support to contact and outreach programs which are designed to followup initial contacts to help veterans find a job and obtain VA assistance.

The VFW has participated through our organization at the local level by welcoming these veterans back home and offering the services of a local VFW post in helping these returning veterans.

It is in the area of jobs that we find the most acute situation. There are more veterans out of work than comparable age groups under 30. This is an alarming situation and should be corrected immediately. I


have discussed this problem personally with the President and other high Government officials.

Our organization has worked closely with the Congress in support of legislation which will bring meaningful assistance to the returning veteran. This is especially true in appropriations for the Veterans' Employment Service in the Labor Department and the VA where more money and personnel are needed to help these veterans obtain jobs and job training. Despite the fact that there is $5 million being currently spent on finding jobs for veterans, it seems to me the effort is too scattered and fragmented. There seems to be an awful lot of activity to find jobs for Vietnam veterans, but statistics show that more of them are out of work than the national average of their comparable age group.

The present administration opposed a significant increase in GI bill rates during the last Congress. The VFW lent it fullest support to legislation which culminated in a 35-percent increase in all GI bill rates for the nondisabled and vocation rehabilitation rates for those who are disabled in the service and need training to overcome their vocational handicaps.

This, of course, is not enough. The low, unrealistic GI bill rates are one of the root causes why so many veterans do not return to school or take institutional job training. These rates must be substantially increased if they are to be meaningful for the veteran at the bottom of the economic ladder who finds himself in need of all possible assistance on his return to civil life.

The VFW is proud of its record of sponsorship and support of legislation for VA assistance to Vietnam veterans who have been unable to find adequate housing. We, for example, were fully behind legislation which has for the first time authorized the VA to guarantee loans for mobile homes. This program is especially attractive to the returning Vietnam veteran, and hopefully, will help fill the void to some extent in this area.

We have fought increases in the interest rates; we have opposed elimination of the VA direct home loan program for veterans in small towns and rural areas; we have sponsored legislation to use part of the NSLI trust fund for GI home loans, and other legislation which would help veterans and especially Vietnam veterans obtain adequate housing.

Mr. Chairman, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has also been the sponsor of legislation to provide mustering out payment for Vietnam veterans, depending on the length and type of service. It is believed that this cash payment upon discharge would be especially helpful for veterans in helping them get off to a quick start.

The VFW advocates making advance payments for those going to school under the GI bill to help eliminate the period that some have to endure before receiving their first check from the VA.

The VFW advocates a substantial increase in the GI bill rates which will help provide greater participation in the GI bill. The rates are just too low for a large number of veterans.

The VFW supports the work-study program for returning veterans which will recruit more veterans and provide greater participation in the GI bill.

The VFW advocates investing NSLI funds in GI home loans.

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