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Mr. TEAGUE of Texas. Another hard-working member of this committee, the gentleman from California, Mr. Danielson.
Mr. DANIELSON. Thank you, Mr. Teague. Mr. National Commander and ladies and gentlemen of the Legion, I am very pleased that the Legion has taken a clear and forthright position on these critical issues involving the interests of American veterans. As you know, the Congress last year passed legislation which, if it had been fully implemented, would have solved a number of these problems. I am reasonably certain that this committee and the Congress will again pass legislation this year. I, therefore, call upon all of you from the Legion, men, women, and all of those you can influence, to keep up the public pressure to develop public opinion so that when we pass legislation again this year, it will be signed and it will become the law of the land. You can count upon our support and we want to count upon yours.
Mr. TEAGUE of Texas. Mr. Commander, a few minutes ago I thought I saw at the back of the room a great Legionnaire and a great American, a former member of this committee, Roland Libonati from Illinois. Is Roland back there someplace! I guess he has left the room.
I Mr. Commander, I would like to ask the staff, one of the best in this Congress and the best on Capitol Hill, of the Veterans Affairs Committee, to all stand.
Mr. Commander, I think the most disappointing thing of being in the Congress is time. The Chairman and Mr. Hammerschmidt have gone to the Rules Committee. The reason for going over there is most important. They have got to go over there and get the money authorized to run this committee this year. That is the reason they left. Now every member up here has other commitments, Mr. Dulski is chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service. At the moment I think he is over there defending veterans preference rights but everyone who is not here it is not because they are not interested in veterans affairs. They left because there are not enough hours in the day to do the things we have to do. Mr. Saylor.
Mr. SAYLOR. Mr. Chairman, Mr. Teague and Mr. Commander, you heard your fellow Texan talk about your choice of Texas and he mentioned that you came originally from Pennsylvania and then went into the service in Pennsylvania. You were born and raised in Pennsylvania and come from the State that has the largest number of Legionnaires of any State in the Union.
All I can say, as I looked out there and all those people were introduced from South Carolina and North Carolina and South Dakota and California, I don't find anybody in the official staff that came from the State of Pennsylvania. It has been such a long time since we have had a commander from the State of Pennsylvania and I have been told, up there you just sort of take us for granted.
I just want you to know that even though we may not get up into the front rows, we from Pennsylvania still like to think that we are a pretty good part of the Legion. Mr. Commander, everybody has been real nice to you and nobody has asked you an embarrassing question. Sometimes, you know, a fellow who asks an embarrassing question happens to be as popular s a skunk at a lawn party but I am disturbed because I have read a number of pieces in the Washington press. I am like Will Rogers. The only thing I know is what I read in the paper. I keep reading in the paper that your organization didn't come out against the economy move because of the fact that Mr. Johnson, who is the present VA chief, was a former national commander. Then I read in Sunday's paper where the American Legion is going to testify here today. I am a little disturbed because some of us on the Hill here, Mr. Teague, Mr. Dorn, Mr. Hammerschmidt and myself, as soon as che proposed revision of the rating schedule came out, we were so concerned that we immediately introduced a piece of legislation on that day to freeze the existing schedule for rating disabilities as of Janu
ary 1, 1973.
Am I to take from your statement today that you approve another look at this rating schedule?
Mr. MATTHEWS. As provided by the law, yes, but let me go back to what was in the paper there. As soon as I was advised what was going on as far as the proposed new rating schedule was concerned, I took the position in opposition to same. I sent a telegram to Congressman Dorn and one supporting his position. I made statements that we were opposed to this.
Unfortunately, somebody didn't pick up some of our statements. We made just as strong an appeal against the action as any of the other veterans organizations or as any other Member of Congress did but some of the newspaper reporters either saw fit not to recognize my statement or saw fit to recognize another statement in preference to saying that we were in opposition to the move. We are in opposition to the move. We have so stated.
Mr. SAYLOR. I expected that answer from you and I think your members are entitled to know that was your position. I know that Mr. Dorn showed me the telegram that we had gotten from you. I think the members should know that even though these pieces appeared in the record that that is not your position as the commander and that you did come out and were strongly opposed to the proposed revision of the rating schedule.
Mr. MATTHEWS. We certainly were and I certainly do appreciate your bringing this point up, Mr. Congressman and I would also like to bring out one other point, Mr. Golembieski, head of veterans rehabilitation here is a native Pennsylvanian.
Mr. SAYLOR. I know that and even though you might put on a big hat down in Texas, we still think of you as a Pennsylvanian. Thank you.
Mr. MATTHEWS. Thank you, sir.
Mr. SAYLOR. I would like to mention the battle monuments. Mr. Teague last year after this committee of ours took the action that we did, asked me whether or not I would go to Europe to look at our American cemeteries. Ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you that I have always been proud of our country but I was never more proud of this country or yours and mine than when I went to England, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and down into Italy to see the cemeteries that are maintained by our country for the men who gave their life in the defense of freedom and liberty.
I, like Mr. Teague, had the opportunity to see the cemeteries of the English, Germans, and the French and Italians, and there is nothing
that compares to the manner in which this country of yours and mine have taken care of our honored dead. I can only tell you that I came back with a determination that the American Battle Monuments Commission would continue to be in existence, that it would also get some money to take care of some of the needed improvements.
I got a very interesting letter from General Clark who is now the head of the Commission when I called his attention to the fact that Flanders Field, believe it or not, is the poorest of all of our cemeteries. That grew out of the fact that somebody over there never got around to finishing the job that General Pershing started at that place. They never got a decent home for the people who were there to maintain it. For some reason or other, they allowed the trees to grow so that when a storm went through not too long ago and broke off many of them, it actually
left Flanders Field looking as hardly a fit place for our dead to be. The graves themselves are fine but the surroundings have deteriorated considerably. Gen. Mark Clark told me in his letter that this was one of the things that the American Battle Monuments Commission is going to try and correct in a very short time.
We would urge any of you men who fought in World War I and World War II, if you have the opportunity to go back, it is a great thrill to go there and just see what we have done for our dead.
I am satisfied that Mr. Teague and I will do our best to see to it that the things this American Battle Monuments Commission needs will be taken care of.
Mr. TEAGUE of Texas. Mr. Wolff, do you have a comment ?
Mr. WOLFF. Yes, Mr. Chairman. I would like to just ask the membership of the American Legion for support for an idea that I have been trying to get support for for some time. The VFW has already supported this. With the dollar being threatened all over the world, and these cuts that are being made in various Federal programs here at home, we still are owed some $14 billion by nations throughout the world, some dating back to World War I and I would ask the support of the American Legion for a proposal that I have before the Congress to collect these debts. They are long overdue and they were given with harder dollars and at a time when the dollar was worth much more than it is today.
I think these people snapping at us, it is about time they paid up their debts that they have owed us for some period of time.
Mr. MATTHEWS. May I answer the Congressman? While we have no mandate on such a thing, Mr. Wolff, I think the reaction from the audience would indicate to you that the majority of the people in these chambers would be heartily in accord with your efforts on that. I am certain the American Legion will discuss this at the proper committee in the relatively near future. Thank you.
Mr. TEAGUE of Texas. Thank you on behalf of the committee, thank you for coming. We will see you tomorrow evening.
Mr. MATTHEWs. Thank you for having us.
LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF VETERANS'
STATEMENT OF NATIONAL COMMANDER IN CHIEF,
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS
TUESDAY, MARCH 6, 1973
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., pursuant to call, in room 345, Cannon House Office Building, Hon. Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Mr. DORN. The committee will come to order. Before I introduce our distinguished guests and visitors today, I am going to present to you the members of our committee because some of them have other committee meetings. Later on, after your presentation, we will have comments from them.
You all know our dear friend on my left, Mr. Teague of Texas. We have a whole battery of committee chairmen on our committee. Mr. Teague is chairman of the Science and Astronautics Committee. To the left of Mr. Teague, we have Jim Haley, of Florida. Next, is Thaddeus Dulski from the great State of New York, and he is chairman of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee. I want you to understand they put first and foremost the Veterans' Affairs Committee, but it is good to have this added muscle on our committee. Next, we have Mr. Ray Roberts, of Texas. Next, is David Satterfield III, of Virginia, chairman of our Subcommittee on Hospitals. Henry Helstoski, of New Jersey; and Don Edwards, of California. I am not going in the order of seniority now but just introducing members I can see best from this podium. Charles Wilson, from Texas; Jack Brinkley, from Georgia; Les Wolff, from New York. Les has been very helpful to us on this committee. One of the charming ladies on the committee, Ella Grasso; then Charles Carney, who is chairman of our Subcommittee on Housing, and he is from Ohio. Of course you know Sonny Montgomery.
I am going to ask our new ranking minority member on the committee, John Hammerschmidt, from Arkansas, a very cooperative member of our committee, to present the members on our side of the committee over here. You notice I said “our," being nonpartisan.
Mr. HAMMERSCHMIDT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Some of our members do have some conflicts this morning. Our former ranking member, Mr. Teague, of California, is attending a meeting of the Agricultural Committee, and they are considering the REA cooperative interest matter this morning. It is my privilege to introduce to you Margaret Heckler of Massachusetts, known to us affectionately as “Peggy," and Bill Walsh from the 33d district of New York.
Mr. Dorn. Thank you, Mr. Hammerschmidt. I do want to say, on behalf of the Chair, that we are proud of the staff of the Veterans of