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The CHAIRMAN. You may go on, General.
Senator Bingham. Certainly, the files and records should be put in such condition that they can be used readily.
General HINES. Yes, sir.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. Is the stock that was turned over to your bureau by these other departments and stored at Perryville pretty well depleted?
General Hines. Well, wherever possible we have used it, in establishing new hospitals. There is a great mass of other materials there that was purchased for field use during the war that we feel is obsolete.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. I imagine so.
General Hines. And we have set aside completely enough for our requirements for five years, of anything that is usable. And we have also submitted lists of the material to other Government agencies so that they may select anything that is usable to them. The balance is stored and indexed ready for sale, but we have refrained from throwing it on the market at this time, as we feel that the Government would not receive but a few cents on the dollar, and we have felt that we had better keep it until a more favorable time.
The CHAIRMAN. We will go to page 14 of the bill.
General Hines. This is the most important provision in the bill, gentlemen.
Section 10 of the bill amends section 200 of the act by eliminating the provision to the effect that no compensation shall be paid if the injury, disease, aggravation, or recurrence has been caused by the veteran's own willful misconduct and the provision excepting from this prohibition persons suffering from paralysis, paresis, or blindness, or who are helpless or bedridden, and inserting in lieu thereof a proviso that compensation shall not be denied any applicant by reason of injury, disease, aggravation, or recurrence having been caused by the veteran's own willful misconduct, if such willful misconduct occurred during the period of enlistment of such applicant. Under this amendment the fact that the disability may have been selfinflicted or may have resulted from willful disobedience of orders or from the soldier's indiscretions would be immaterial. For example, if a soldier, while a prisoner under sentence of court-martial, endeavored to escape and was shot by the guard, or if, in order to avoid service, he inflicted a wound upon himself, he would be compensated in either case for any disability which may have resulted from his act. It would seem highly inconsistent for the Government to compensate these men for these conditions which resulted from acts for which the man was subjected to court-martial. From the remarks made on the floor of the House, it is believed that the sponsor of this amendment had in mind chiefly a provision which would permit payment of compensation to men suffering with disabilities due to social diseases acquired in the service. However, the amendment as drawn is so broad as to include all disabilities due to the man's own willful misconduct. It seems to me that it would be better to leave the misconduct clause, as it now stands, alone, and add a new proviso to the effect that it shall not be construed to prohibit compensation for disabilities due to venereal infections, if you want to change it at all.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, the law does provide that. You need not repeat that in this law. It seems to me by discarding this provision here would be leaving the law just as it is.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Will you define just what the present law is?
General HINES. Mr. Roberts, will you do that?
But no compensation shall be paid if the injury, disease, aggravation, or recurrence has been caused by his own willful misconduct.
In other words, we do not pay any compensation if the disability is as a result of the veteran's own misconduct; in fact, his acquiring a social disease. The sponsor of this evidently wanted to remove the inhibition so far as the social diseases were concerned. He drew it too broad.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Under the present law, is he compensated in such cases as you have stated?
Mr. ROBERTS. No, sir; he is not.
General HINES. Mr. Chairman, may I have Dr. Cooley state one distinction or conflict he has found in the law? Doctor, you pointed out to me a conflict there.
Doctor Cooley. The first proviso, that the applicant shall not be denied compensation by reason of injury or disease, when caused by misconduct, further provides that that provision shall be applicable to men only who have had a certain form of service.
General HINES. A term of enlistment?
Doctor Cooley. Yes. You see the second proviso, that the willful misconduct must have occurred during the period of enlistment.
The CHAIRMAN. That is not the law to-day?
Doctor COOLEY. No; and the point is that that proviso is exclusive; it applies only to a man who acquired the venereal disease during the service, and not after it; and therefore seems in conflict with the provision, line 6, page 15, which extends a conclusive presumption to paralysis, paresis, blindness, etc., arising after service, and up to January 1, 1930, since paralysis, paresis, blindness, etc., are usually misconduct conditions.
General Hines. In other words, it makes it inconsistent with the next section.
Mr. ROBERTS. These provisions could hardly be called inconsistent. There are rather overlapping extensions of benefits. First the inhibition against payment for disability the result of misconduct is struck out with the exception heretofore in the law in favor of certain cases. This amendment standing alone would result in payment of all cases. Next an affirmative provision is inserted to pay misconduct cases where the incidence of the disease or injury was in service. Then there is a conclusive presumption that certain diseases, some of which are admittedly misconduct in origin, were incurred in the service. These presumption cases would immediately become payable being deemed incurred in service under the aflirmative provision above mentioned. There is no more inconsistency here than in affirmatively providing compensation for disability incurred in service and then presuming certain diseases admittedly not service connected to have been incurred in the service, which is the law at present.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; I see.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. In other words, if there is any evidence of disability that has been accentuated by misconduct, you consider that.
General HINES. The aggravation of the disability.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. You consider that as a factor in the degree of disability?
General HINES. Yes, sir.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. But you do not grant any compensation, under existing law, for a disability arising from misconduct?
General HINES. No, sir.
Doctor Cooley. There is a proviso in existing law as to paralysis, paresis, and blindness that are due to misconduct.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I did not understand that.
Doctor COOLEY. The original war risk insurance act provided that no man should be paid for a disability which was due to his own misconduct. That has been the law, and efforts have been made to take it out, and Congress has refused a number of times. Now some years ago it was modified, however, to take care of certain very deserving cases that were in our hospitals. We had, roughly, some 900 men in the hospitals--paretics, tabetics, and so forth-and with the idea of saving them from expulsion from those hospitals, this proviso was put in the act. Compensation was to be paid during hospitalization.
General HINES. Will you read that?
Provided, That no person suffering from paralysis, paresis, or blindness shall be denied compensation by reason of willful misconduct, nor shall any person who is helpless or bedridden as a result of any disability be denied compensation by reason of willful misconduct.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Will you cite that section you have just read?
Doctor CoolEY. That is in the old-law, under Title II, page 15, section 200. Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Thank
you. Senator SHORTRIDGE. Now it is proposed to broaden that section, I understand?
Doctor COOLEY. Yes, sir.
Doctor Cooley. It is more than a broadening. It is a change in the spirit of the statute not in any way recognized heretofore.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Every country in the world, I understand, that has to deal with the ex-soldier, takes into account what we may call diseases resulting from misconduct?
Doctor Cooley. Yes, sir.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Including those comprehended by that section?
Doctor COOLEY. Yes, sir.
The ChairMAN. That was the first action taken by our Government along that line.
General HINES. That is the beginning.
The ChairMAN. Yes. That is the first subject that was taken up in all of our wars.
Doctor COOLEY. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I thought at the time it was properly enacted, and still feel that way.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. There are 900 cases under those provisos?
General Hines. There were. I think there are more now, cases of paralysis, paresis, and blindness not denied compensation.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. How were those diseases treated under acts granting pensions in the Civil War and in the SpanishAmerican War?
General Hines. They have provisions with reference to that in the pension law.
Mr. Roberts. The present pension law provides that a man can not receive a pension for a disability which is the result of his vicious habits. But my understanding is in connection with five bills recently passed by the Senate, at least one excluded the vicious causes.
The CHAIRMAN. I was so tied up that I could not attend, and do not know whether they do or not. But I was on the Pension Committee for eight years, and we never passed one single bill or created any law changing the provisions with reference to that.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. Well, we must be merciful. Concede the wrong as a moral act--concede that, the result of which here is a misfortune to an ex-soldier
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). And say to everybody else hereafter, “Do as you please."
Senator SHORTRIDGE. No; I do not mean that. The CHAIRMAN. That is what it would be. General Hines. I believe the present law is very helpful, because when a man is in need of aid, we do take him into the hospitals and take care of him. But in going much further you make an inconsistency between what we did during the war and now.
Senator THOMAS of Oklahoma. General Hines, you say that when he becomes totally helpless and needs aid, you take him into the hospitals. Is there any way that by taking him in time you might prevent his becoming helpless?
General HINES. No; because there is no way to prevent the blindness and paralysis, or paresis, resulting from such misconduct. That is what I understand from medical men.
Senator SHORTRIDGE. I do not want to be misunderstood in my attitude by questions put, but this is a matter of record, and I am perfectly willing to say that if through misconduct a great misfortune falls upon a soldier, I do not want to bar him from relief. I do not want to encourage misconduct or violation of rules or regulations of the Army or the Navy; but if, through his misconduct, he has met with a great misfortune, I want the Government to be merciful and protect him, if you please, and give him proper relief.
General Hines. I can go, Senator, as far as that, taking care of the man, and taking care of his family; but I think to compensate the man, except in these cases we mentioned
Senator SHORTRIDGE (interposing). In extreme cases.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Now in this amendment in this bill, changing the present law, it takes two steps forward. First, it
embraces all those cases where the misconduct can be proved to have occurred during the service.
General Hines. Yes, sir.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. Now you have stated that it goes even further.
General Hines. It takes in those cases of willful misconduct where they brought the injury upon themselves.
Senator WALSH of Massachusetts. Like the man being shot who was a deserter.
General Hines. Yes, sir.
Senator Walsh of Massachusetts. You stated that the advocates of this change, in the House, did not intend to go that far?
General HINES. I am sure of that, from the language of the debate. The CHAIRMAN. You may go on, General.
General HINES. Now this is the same section, Mr. Chairman. Section 10 of the bill also amends section 200 of the act by presuming all disabilities of a 10 per cent degree or more existing prior to January 1, 1930, to be the result of injury or disease incurred in or aggravated by the military service, the presumption to be conclusive in cases of tuberculosis, paralysis, paresis, blindness, those permanently helpless or permanently bedridden, neuropsychiatric disease, paralysis agitans, encephalitis lethargica, a chronic constitutional disease or analogous disease, particularly all diseases enumerated on page 75 of the schedule of disability ratings of the United States Veterans' Bureau, 1925, or amebic dysentery. Payments as a result of the new presumption are not retroactive and are to continue only for a period of three years following the enactment of the bill. Under existing law the presumption of service origin is extended only to a limited class of cases; namely, neuropsychiatric disease and spinal meningitis, an active tuberculous disease, paralysis agitans, encephalitis lethargica, or amabic dysentery, and is made conclusive only in the cases of active tuberculosis disease and spinal meningitis. While these amendments go extremely far in eliminating preference which has heretofore been given to veterans suffering from diseases now covered by the existing law, they do not eliminate all preference. For example, the veteran who suffers an accidental injury subsequent to military service which results in a 10 per cent disability prior to January 1, 1930, is as much entitled to have his disability presumed to have been acquired in the service as is the veteran who, through obscure causes, contracts one of the specified diseases subsequent to military service which results in a 10 per cent disability prior to January 1, 1930.
However, under the operation of the amendment in the first case the service origin of the disability would be rebutted, whereas in the second case it would not be rebutted. Then there are diseases not mentioned in the bill at all which are probably as worthy of presumption. The measure is essentially a pension measure for disability acquired subsequent to service. With regard to those existing presumptions, it may be stated that it is extremely difficult to justify them on any scientific basis, there being no unanimity of medial opinion as to the part which service may have played in causing the specified diseases. Certainly there is no scientific basis for the pre