Lapas attēli


thing with a subject at a VA hospital. We saw one epileptic who was able to control the presence of seizures; the man was an engineer who came to the VA hospital 1 hour a day for treatment. After being on the treatment schedule for a period of months, he was able to prevent grand mal seizures and this offers him a new way of life. This is one of the most significant medical breakthroughs which, in effect, made drugs, such as aspirin, all of these medicines, unnecessary for him. It is something still in the experimental stage and it hasn't been completely tested; however, it could apply to almost any illness from migrane headaches on up, and significantly it was developed at the VA hospital. VA hospitals throughout the country, have provided a very high caliber of medical care, but without recognition of this we will not continue to have a VA hospital system. I am deeply concerned that the hospital system is severely threatened at this time, by a proposal that the VA system be integrated or absorbed into a national health system. The foes of VA hospitals are unconscious ones, in some cases. However, they are right here on Capitol Hill. I suggest to you, as national commander of the VFW, that you, and all of your State or

, ganizations, begin a very intensive mail campaign to the authors of every national health insurance plan. Once it is brought to the Hill, this will open the door for all other national organizations.

When I ask visitors to my office what will happen to the VA hospital system, a large percentage envision that it will be absorbed into a national health program. This is the most basic struggle you are going to face. All of the VA programs are important, but this is significant this year because it relates to the whole future medical care of the veterans. I believe the country owes the finest in medical care to the veteran and the privilege of being treated in his or her own special facility. I wish to express my own enormous concern on this subject, as one who has spent a great deal of time studying the VA hospital system. I ask you to join me in seeing that it is preserved.

Chairman Dorn. "Thank you. You see why we all love Peggy, Mr. Commander.

Mr. Roberts, who has been a very fine member of our committee for a long time, and by right of seniority should be chairman of one of our subcommittees, but is chairman of a subcommittee of the Public Works Committee. Mr. Roberts from Texas.

Mr. ROBERTS. I am glad to have all of you here. It is one of the highlights of the year to hear the national commander of VFW. I want to commend you for the Voice of Democracy program. There is a lot of antiveteran sentiment throughout this country. The best way to prevent it is through this Voice of Democracy.

Thank you very much.

Mr. WYLIE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much, Commander Carr, for being here this morning, and for your very good statement. I generally agree with your position. I want to congratulate the VFW on your upcoming 75th anniversary and for your distinguished service to veterans.

I generally agree with your position, and am sympathetic to the veterans. I cosponsored each of the vetoed bills, as you probably know, and I feel strongly about your statement on page 13, where you

[ocr errors]

say that your members are opposed to amnesty today, tomorrow, and forever. I share your position in this regard.

I voted against the bill which would change Veterans Day from November 11. November 11 is the significant day on which the Armistice was signed. I will vote to restore Veterans Day to November 11, if a bill ever comes out of committee.

There are a couple of statements which are somewhat disturbing to me and I think unfair.

For example, on page 9, you refer to a reduction in veterans benefits, about the recommendation for pension benefits for disabled veterans.

That recommendation was inadvertently made, I think, by the Administrator of the Veterans' Administration, and almost on the same day, there was a veto by President Nixon, as you know. The recommendation was simply revoked. I think to say that the President has indicated a callous disregard for the veteran is not fair.

Also, on page 10, you say that there is no money in the 1974 budget for veterans pensions. As I heard you say that, I just knew it couldn't be true, so I sent for a copy of the budget. Here it is and it shows that there is indeed an increase of $21,175,000 for pension benefits for the veteran for fiscal year 1974. I think what I am suggesting is that I feel as strongly as you do that the veteran should have adequate benefits. I also feel strongly that President Nixon feels as we do and wants appropriate handling of the veterans' problems. I would be remiss if I allowed your statements to stand. I also would like you to think about one other thing. I don't know if you are suggesting a complete blanket exemption for veterans' benefits from any budget considerations, but if you are, I am not sure that would place you in a strong position. I am not sure it wouldn't jeopardize the position of strength you already have.

You are better off being able to go to the Appropriations Committee to obtain adequate funding for the veterans' programs. I think that if there is not some sort of national accounting, if there is only an open-ended budget arrangement, and veterans' programs are exempt from all Federal expenditures limitations, then you will surely come under critical attack.

Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to have you here.
Mr. Dorn. Commander ?

Mr. CARR. On the $160 million saving in the proposed rating schedule pension we are aware that President Nixon, or have learned, that he did not actually, in fact, know about this. It does disturb us that it came about at all because it makes no sense of any kind to make such a proposal, in the beginning. We don't know, of course, where, exactly, it originated. We think we have a pretty good idea, but we simply bring it out to show our concern of what is happening or what can happen in the administration. Now, the President certainly should have known about it, we feel, but we would grant that now we have learned he knew nothing about it--and I personally did not think he knew anything about it when it first came to our attention.

Mr. WYLIE. That is a point I wanted to make.

Mr. Carr. On the money for pensions, what was intended, which was a technical error in the presentation, was, it was intended there

was no veterans pension money to offset the reduction in veterans and widows pensions because of social security increases in 1972, sir.

Mr. WYLIE. That makes quite a difference in the statement.

Mr. Carr. It certainly does. On the question of no budgetary restrictions, we realize there must be some reasonableness on the amount of money that is going to be spent. We believe very strongly this tailoring a veterans program or needs to a fixed ceiling should not be a prime consideration in taking care of the veterans needs, the hospital care and treatment and pension and compensation. We do not believe that an arbitrary budgetary restriction should be the prime consideration with reference to veterans' programs.

Mr. WYLIE. I agree with that, but do you mean to say that you think there should be a complete exclusion from any Federal expenditures limits as far as the budget is concerned ?

Mr. Carr. We believe there is ample money in the budget to take care of those needs and they should be taken care of in preference to some of the other needs proposed.

Mr. WYLIE. I think it is a matter of semantics. We will get into that a little later on.

Mr. Dorn. I want to present the distinguished chairman of our House subcommittee, Mr. Satterfield.

Mr. SATTERFIELD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Carr, I would like to say that I have enjoyed your remarks this morning because they are perceptive and go to the point of the problems which will be confronting all veterans and this committee. As chairman of the Hospital Subcommittee, I wish to assure you that our committee will deal in depth with those problems which fall within our particular jurisdiction. I think it is safe to say that you can expect positive action where it is proper from that subcommittee.

I am especially interested in your remarks on page 6, and I certainly hope that the Office of Management and Budget will take notice of the remarks of our distinguished colleague, Mr. Hammerschmidt, and the statement of the President which he referred to. It seems to me you are correct in identifying, at least, a concept which I believe, exists in OMB to phase out the VA hospital system, and to combine it with a national health insurance system. I want to make it perfectly clear that I don't think, for 1 minute, that this reflects the views or policy of our President, but nevertheless, I have been concerned for some time that there is indication of such a view, and I think it is indicated in the proposed budget, by some of the actions which OMB has taken. This is indicated by the continued efforts to curtail average daily patient census, by curtailing and denying funds necessary to the medical program, essential to an ongoing hospital replacement program and by failing to do what Congress says should be done. I hope we will do something about this and that we will act to provide an adequate staff to patient ratio and the important research which the VA medical program has provided for this country. I am glad indeed that your organization is aware of the danger. I am very much concerned that unless all people, particularly all veterans, remain aware and maintain the vigilance necessary, all of us might wake up one day and find things have been done through manipulation of the budget, will determine whether or not we are going to have and continue to have a VA

to tell you.

hospital system. To my own way of thinking, such viligance is absolutely imperative. All of us must join hands to make sure this doesn't happen, and to serve our veterans. It is a pleasure to have heard your remarks this morning and I look forward to visiting with you and working with you during the rest of this Congress.

Mr. Dorn. Thank you. Mr. Hammerschmidt.
Mr. HAMMERSCHMIDT. I present Mr. Elwood Hillis of Indiana.
Mr. Hillis. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Commander, I will be brief because the time is running out. I enjoyed your statement very much, and I certainly find myself in agreement with practically all of the goals you have outlined here. As a member of the Hospital Subcommittee-you have stated here, to keep that system strong with enough beds for our veterans—I had the opportunity to attend a meeting in Indianapolis Friday, which went into the problem of unemployment of the Vietnam veteran. This seems to be No. 1 problem, hot on the list. I was happy to see your organization was working in this important area. Our committee will be working with you on that.

Also, I noted in your statement a reference to the situation with the pension and the decrease the veterans pensioner has taken because of the increase of social security last year. I know our office has received call after call on this back in the district, many of them widows. I pledge my support to do something about this. I am one of the primary sponsors of such a bill. We have 100 cosponsors now, I am happy

Last, but not least, I think I would be remiss if I didn't say, of course, you come here asking Congress for things, to do things that are very justified for our Nation's veteran. We should, in Congress, say thanks to you and your organization for standing up and being counted over the last years. We now, with the return of the POW's, know what peace with honor is all about. We wouldn't have had it without you. Thank you very much.

Mr. Dory. Thank you.

Mr. Montgomery, from Mississippi, who is the chairman of our Subcommittee on Insurance.

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Dorn. He is one of the Mississippians who did not move to Louisiana.

Mr. MONTGOMERY. Mr. Commander, thank you very much for that very comprehensive report you have just given us. I would like to personally thank you since I am Senator Stennis' Congressman in the Congress, and we only live 18 miles apart, for honoring Senator Stennis tonight. He won't be there in physical body, but in spirit. I am happy to report to my comrades in the VFW that Senator Stennis is going to make a full recovery and be back on the job full time in the next couple of months. Yesterday, I asked the Veterans' Administration personnel who handle the insurance programs for the veterans and for military personnel on active duty to come up to the Hill and give me an updated report on the insurance programs. I would recommend, Mr. Commander, that the VFW help our committee and help the Veterans' Administration, to bring to the attention of those men who served in World War II the changes this committee has made, by

[ocr errors]

law, that would help those whose premiums continue to rise. The information comes with their dividend. They will probably find out they can keep the premiums from rising by using these dividends to buy paid-up insurance or converting their insurance to the program that will allow them to continue their coverage with reduction at age 70 with the premiums remaining stable.

It is very, very important that we get the word out. About 20 percent of those men and women have converted their insurance-it should be a higher number than that. Mr. Ralph Nader, Mr. Chairman, issued a statement only recently, one of his usual misinformed statements, wherein he said the Vietnam soldier or veteran has been cheated on the insurance he was able to buy. This is completely wrong. Thanks to this committee, we have an insurance program for men who served or are now serving in Vietnam. Without any additional cost, his insurance coverage was raised from $10,000 to $15,000 and only recently the insurance premium to the Vietnam soldier has been reduced. Incidentally, from 1956 to 1965 there was no insurance program for the active duty serviceman. However, under the laws we passed in the Congress, à Vietnam veteran or person on active duty can carry his insurance from now on. I wanted that in the record because the Vietnam veteran has been treated fairly.

In closing I would like to commend the commander. As far as I know, Mr. Commander, you have made no publicized comments on the terms of the Vietnam peace agreement. The reason I am bringing this up here is some of us might not agree with all of the provisions of the peace negotiations but the name of the game, in my opinion, right now, is to get the rest of these 300 Americans home and find out something about those missing in action. After we get them home, there will be plenty of time to debate the pros and cons of the agreement.

Mr. CARR. Those are exactly our sentiments, Mr. Montgomery.
Mr. DORN. Thank you, Mr. Montgomery.
Mr. Hammerschmidt,

Mr. HAMMERSCHMIDT. It is my pleasure to present Mr. Maraziti from New Jersey.

Mr. DORN. Mr. Maraziti is one of our new members and I might state already he has shown a persistence and diligence and cooperation in veterans' affairs.

Mr. MARAZITI. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me also congratulate you, Commander, and the VFW for their very fine statement of legislative proposals. I wish also to congratulate the Voice of Democracy State and territorial winners. I am very much impressed by their presence here today. I am in general agreement with your statement of principles, specially the reference on page 5 to the fact that the cost of veterans benefits is a part of the cost of war and therefore cannot generally be considered as subject to budgetary restrictions.

I am in complete agreement with your position on opposition to general amnesty. We have, in this Nation, a set of laws which makes allowances for those who do not feel that they can serve in the Armed Forces, men and women who have conscientious objections to fighting, and we understand that the Nation recognizes this particular

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »