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care. But, the skyrocketing increased costs in salaries, services and supplies have also caused VA budgets to go up.

Despite the number of veterans being at an all-time high, together with more money being spent on veterans programs than ever before, there are many signs on the horizon indicating that veterans programs are in mortal danger. There are just too many recommendations, legislative proposals, and irrefutable evidence that veterans programs would soon disappear from the American scene if anti-veterans have their way. This is not a theory but a fact. It was best expressed by Commander-in-Chief Car in his acceptance speech following his installation as Commander-in-Chief of the Veterans of Foreign Wars for this year. After listing the many groups and individuals who would dismember the Veterans Administration and destroy it as a single agency for administering veterans benefits or eliminate veterans programs altogether, he warned: “I say to all who seek these objectives that they will face the VFW in their battle and they will lose. The Veterans Administration Hospital System and the entire VA will be preserved."

Our duty, therefore, is clear. The VFW has the solemn responsibility of carrying out the mandates of our organization. Not only must we continue the great program of veterans rights and benefits to which all veterans are entitled, but we must redouble our efforts to strengthen, improve, and expand veterans programs, as indicated in our mandates.

The following Priority Goals are a representative list of these mandates. Our concerns range from more readjustment assistance for the younger Vietnam veteran to more funds and personnel for the highest quality hospital and medical care for all veterans to more pension assistance for our older World War I comrades.

This program lists the key problems and intense concerns which the VFW believes are of critical importance and will be favorably resolved during this coming year by their approval by the Congress of the United States.

COMPENSATION

A. 100% service connected disabled veterans receive only $5940 a year in disability compensation, with lesser amounts for those with lesser disabilities. The compensation rates must be increased to provide a higher standard of living comparable to that of Americans who did not suffer disabilities as the result of their wartime service. B. Veterans rated 50% or more for service connected disabilities are entitled to a dependency allowance for a wife and minor children. The dependency allowances should be authorized for veterans rated less than 50%. C. Widows of 100% service connected disabled veterans should be entitled to service connected dependency and indemnity compensation regardless of the cause of death

.

of their spouse.

HOSPITAL AND MEDICAL CARE

A. Regardless of the National Health Care System finally established, the independence and integrity of the VA hospital and medical care system must be maintained, improved and expanded. B. To insure the best hospital and medical care for veterans:

(1) No budgetary or personnel restrictions on Veterans Administration's capabilities to deliver the highest quality health care. (2) No reduction in hospitals or reduction below the daily patient load of 85,500. (3) Elimination of the pauper's oath for admission for non-service connected conditions.

PENSION

A. Veterans who have worn the uniform during wartime should not be subjected to welfare status. Veterans pension benefits should be made adequate to preclude veterans from being on the welfare rolls. B. The average World War I veteran is now 76 years of age. This places them in a special category for extra consideration. The VFW pledges assistance for a meaningful pension program for our World War I comrades. C. VA pension rates and income limitations must be liberalized so that veterans and their dependents will not have their pensions cut on account of the recent 20% Social Security increase and similar increases in retirement programs.

It would appear increasingly necessary that all private and public retirement income should be excluded from being counted as income for VA pension purposes.

IMPROVE GI EDUCATION

AND TRAINING BILL A. Legislation to provide the same levels of GI Bill assistance to Vietnam veterans as was provided veterans of previous wars. B. Recognition should be given in the GI Bill to veterans with special needs, both before and after they are discharged from the Armed Forces, to prepare them for education and training without which they will be unable to successfully readjust to civilian life. C. An advance payment should be provided veterans who are attending school for the first time.

READJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE

FOR VIETNAM VETERANS

A. The VA's direct loan program should be liberalized from the present maximum loan of $17,500 to $25,000. B. The establishment of a life insurance program for Vietnam veterans similar to the NSLI program enjoyed by World War II and Korean veterans. C. Drug care and treatment by VA for all eligible veterans.

EMPLOYMENT AND JOBS

A. The continuing, staggering high number of unemployed veterans is a serious problem. We encourage all employers when hiring to recognize the special service that veterans have given their country. The VFW pledges total support for all programs established to help reduce the number of unemployed veterans, with special emphasis on helping the returning Vietnam veterans. B. Sufficient personnel and an adequate budget for the Veterans. Employment Service of the Department of Labor to assure its mission of finding jobs and providing job counseling for veterans in the 2,700 local Public Employment Offices throughout the nation.

RESTORE VETERANS DAY

TO NOVEMBER 11

FOR MILITARY RETIREES

AND THEIR FAMILIES

A. Reaffirm goal of recomputation of retirement pay to reflect active duty pay scales. B. All active duty servicemen serving overseas and at foreign stations should be entitled to free mailing privileges.

VETERANS PREFERENCE

A. There shall be no weakening or diminishing of veterans preference in Federal employment, as provided by the Veterans Preference Act of 1944, as amended, by the Congress or in its implementation by the departments, agencies and commissions of government.

NATIONAL CEMETERIES

A. Continue every effort to have at least one active National Cemetery established in every state, so that all honorably discharged veterans, who so desire, may have the opportunity to be buried in a National Cemetery reasonably close to their homes. B. Establish a National Cemetery system under the jurisdiction of the Veterans Administration to include all cemeteries presently handled by the Department of the Army, all VA cemeteries and all military cemeteries. C. Increase veterans burial allowance from the present $250 to $750.

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