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And just arriving is another man who needs no introduction to you folks, John Saylor, the senior member of the committee, from the State of Pennsylvania. [Applause.] Chairman Dorn. Thank you, John.
, It is my great privilege to present to this great audience here today the national commander's lovely wife, Barbara, and their daughter, Jackie, and their son, Jeff.
Would you stand, please? [Applause.)
I want to now present the national commander for the Auxiliary, Mrs. Nelda Koontz. [Applause.]
The auxiliary adjutant, Kit Seal. [Applause.]
Congressman Brown, we are happy to have you with us this morning and we know it is a great honor for your district to have our distinguished national commander of the Disabled American Veterans here.
If you would, I would be grateful if you would make the presentation to the committee.
STATEMENT OF HON. CLARENCE J. BROWN, A REPRESENTATIVE
IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF OHIO
| Mr. Brown. William Jennings Bryan Dorn, thank you very much.
, It is an honor for me, as the Member from the Sixth District of Ohio, to be able to present to you the national commander, Disabled American Veterans, so elected at that organization's 51st annual convention in St. Louis, Mo.
Jack is a resident of La Rue, Ohio, in my district and is one of the youngest men ever named to head the 380,000-member Disabled American Veterans.
He served the DAV as an officer at local, State, and national levels, and was national senior vice commander during 1971 and 1972.
Mr. Hicks is a native of Kentucky, was graduated from the Flemingsburg, Ky., high school, and he attended Marion Business College in Marion, Ohio. He is currently working for a law degree while operating a retail lumber business in La Rue.
The new DAV national commander served in the U.S. Air Force from 1954 until 1959, when he was honorably discharged for a serviceconnected disability.
Jack plays a prominent role in the activities of our area in many civic and service organizations. He is a member of the Village Council of La Rue, a member of the Lions Club. He serves on the Ohio Governor's Committee on Employment of the Handicapped, Scottish Rite, Aladdin Temple Shrine, and several veterans organizations.
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, it is with great pleasure that I present to you Jack 0. Hicks, the national commander of the DAV.
Chairman DORN. Mr. Commander, would you present your wonderful staff? I wanted you to have that privilege.
STATEMENT OF JACK 0. HICKS, NATIONAL COMMANDER, DIS
ABLED AMERICAN VETERANS; ACCOMPANIED BY EDWARD T. CONROY, PAST NATIONAL COMMANDER (MARYLAND) DAV; DENVEL D. ADAMS (OHIO), NATIONAL ADJUTANT; JOHN J. KELLER, NATIONAL SERVICE DIRECTOR; CHARLES L. HUBER, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATION; NORMAN B. HARTNETT, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF EMPLOYMENT; PAST NATIONAL COMMANDER CECIL W. STEVENSON, CHAIRMAN, DAV INTERIM LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE; HARRY WENTWORTH OF CALIFORNIA, ED JAMES OF INDIANA, AND JOHN R. DAVIS OF GEORGIA, MEMBERS OF THE DAV INTERIM LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE
Mr. Hicks. Fine. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I would like to introduce to this distinguished group our national adjutant, Denvel D. Adams of Ohio. [Applause.]
Our national director of service, John J. Keller. [Applause.]
And certainly a man who needs no introduction to this distinguished committee, our national director of legislation, Charles L. Huber. [Applause.]
Our national director of employment, Norman B. Hartnett. [Applause.]
And last but not least, the members of the DAV Interim Legislative Committee, Past National Commander Cecil W. Stevenson, chairman. [Applause.]
Harry Wentworth of California. [Applause.]
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I am honored and very pleased for this opportunity to come before you and discuss some of the highlights of our organization's programs and objectives for 1973.
At the very outset, Mr. Chairman, I want to take this opportunity to express on behalf of the 416,000 members of the DAV, and their counterparts in the Ladies' Auxiliary, our congratulations upon your election to head this distinguished panel.
We in the DAV deeply appreciate the effective role you have played for almost two decades in securing the many and varied benefits and Services which disabled veterans and their families now enjoy. Indeed, all of the veterans of this country owe you a deep and lasting debt of gratitude and I want to acknowledge it here today.
We cannot think of anyone in the Congress who is more deserving or qualified to follow in the footsteps of your respected predecessor, Olin E. "Tiger” Teague. I think it is also in order here to express our wholehearted congratulations to Mr. Teague on his election to chair the exciting House Committee on Science and Astronautics, and it is comforting to know that the gentleman from Texas has agreed to remain a member of the Veterans Affairs Committee. It is our hope that his dedicated service to America's veterans will go on for many more years into the future.
Our best wishes go to all of the members who have returned to serve again on this important panel. To the new members we extend a warm word of welcome and we wish them much success in their assignment.
I want to say to all members of the committee that the Disabled American Veterans look forward to working with you, and to let you know that the officers and resources of our national organization are available to assist you at any time, in any way possible.
My appearance here today, Mr. Chairman, is at one and the same time a very gratifying occasion for me, personally, and the high spot of our commander's and adjutant's conference which officially opened last Monday morning.
We find our annual midwinter conferences to be highly useful since they bring together our State and National leaders who engage in valuable and wide-ranging discussions covering the broad field of veterans' affairs.
It is traditional that the subjects discussed revolve around the word "service”-service to those who are truly deserving of benefits initiated by this distinguished committee, and approved by the Congress and the American people.
Since its creation in 1920, the DAV has steadfastly held to the principle that our Nation's first obligation to veterans is the extension of meaningful programs designed to improve the physical, economic, and social well-being of those veterans who have suffered wounds, injuries, or disabling sickness as a result of service in our Armed Forces. Our concern for the disabled war veteran extends, of course, to his wife and dependent children and to the widows and orphans of those men who have died from service-connected causes,
Today the DAV is the largest single veterans organization of wartime disabled veterans in this Nation and the world. In fulfilling its humanitarian purposes the DAV provides its free service to any veteran, whether or not he is a member of our organization. The DAV activities encompass the disabled veterans of all wars.
Our services to veterans of the Vietnam conflict are as broad in scope as our services to the veterans of World Wars I and II and the Korean war. For this purpose the DAV has maintained a larger staff of full-time national service officers than any other veterans' organiza
tion. These attorneys-in-fact provide services that would cost the Government millions of dollars to duplicate. To meet the constantly increasing volume of DAV services to Vietnam-era veterans, we are employing 50 additional national service officers in this calendar year.
As you know, Mr. Chairman, many articles have appeared and are still appearing in the daily press and popular magazines on the subject of unemployment among the Vietnam veteran population. The DAV shares in this concern and we think we are setting an example by employing Vietnam veterans in key positions in our organization.
I am proud to say that, out of a total of 220 DAV national service officers, 131 are veterans of Vietnam. These are young men who have shown not only courage on the battlefield, but courage in life. They have returned home to become active citizens in the best sense of the
word and are determined to help others in the difficult process of adjustment that they themselves have experienced.
They are reaching Vietnam veterans by making visits regularly at military and VA hospitals, and offering patients the assistance and services of our organization. At college and university appearances they are conducting seminars to appraise veteran students of their rights and benefits under all existing programs.
As national commander of the DAV, Mr. Chairman, I have a deep pride in our service program and the prominence it has attained through the work performance of our national service officers.
The DAV is seriously concerned about the difficulties facing America's disabled war veterans in finding jobs; particularly meaningful, satisfying jobs with career opportunities.
Our DAV national interim employment committee, our national employment staff, our national service officers, and hundreds of department and chapter officers are jointly participating in a program of personalized employment assistance to all disabled veterans who are in need of such help. We have cooperated on a daily basis with the Veterans Employment Service, Jobs for Veterans Committee, the National Alliance of Businessmen, and many other groups both public and private, to enhance employment for disabled veterans.
Official records indicate that in fiscal year 1972 there were 447,707 disabled veteran job applicants registered with some 2,400 public employment service offices. Only 64,727 (14.45 percent) were placed in regular jobs and an additional 8,264 (1.84 percent) were enrolled in training. Thus, almost 375,000 disabled veterans were neither enrolled in training nor placed in a job.
I have attached to this statement a copy of our letter dated March 15, 1973, to the Secretary of Labor, Peter J. Brennan, recommending measures to improve employment assistance to disabled veterans. I respectfully request that the letter be made part of this hearing record.
Mr. Chairman, I would be remiss if I did not express our grateful appreciation to this committee and to the Congress for approving title V of the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972. It establishes a strong job counseling, training, and placement service for veterans, with special emphasis on the employment of qualified disabled and Vietnam era veterans by Federal contractors.
While we appreciate this valuable and necessary legislation we are disturbed to find that its provisions have not been properly implemented. I refer specifically to the total lack of funding for the 70 newly created positions of assistant veterans' employment representatives, who are charged with supervising employment assistance to service-connected disabled veterans. We are certain that the chairman and the members of this committee will take whatever action is required to correct this apparent apathy.
Mr. Chairman, the DAV participates actively in other programs which, although not too widely known, nevertheless serve a useful and humanitarian purpose.
Our scouting program for the handicapped represents a formal partnership arrangement with the Boy Scouts of America under which the DAV has pledged its long-term financial support, as well as its manpower resources, to make scouting a reality for as many boys with handicaps as possible. The DAV presently sponsor 150 Boy Scout units for the handicapped and I am pleased to say that more are being formed.
The DAV scholarship program provides 4 years of college to needy and deserving children of service-connected disabled veterans. At present we have 71 students enrolled in the program and $1.2 million has been set aside for its operation. I have a high and special regard for this laudable enterprise which has helped educate many children of those men and women who helped in time of war.
Our disaster relief fund provides emergency financial assistance to disabled veterans and their families who suffer major losses as a result of natural disaster. $932,750 has been funded for this purposes. The chairman and the committee members will recall the devastating floods occurring last year, particularly in the States of New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Maryland, and West Virginia. $105,000 of the fund was used to assist disabled veterans and their families in these areas.
I would like to turn now, Mr. Chairman, to a discussion of a few subjects that are of immediate concern to the DAV and the men and women whose interest we serve and represent.
VA DISABILITY RATING SCHEDULE
I realize that the new disability rating schedule distributed February 6th has been touched upon by previous witnesses in appearances before the committee. However, since the DAV membership is made up entirely of war veterans who have incurred disabilities as a result of military service, the issue is a most significant and preeminent one for the DAV as an organization. Despite the February 14th order to withdraw the revisions, the issue is still the focus of high controversy inasmuch as it is presently under intensive study “within the Administrator's office."
It is for these reasons that we feel compelled to bring our views in the matter before this committee at this crucial time.
The DAV views the Veterans Administration's action as completely irresponsible and insensitive and totally lacking in logic. In fact, we see the proposed revisions as being so irrational that the thinking behind them is beyond comprehension.
The proposed reductions are in sharp contrast with statements made by VA officials at DAV meetings last year. On those occasions they were very positive, indeed, in their assurances that the rating reductions were limited and of little significance.
To bring the outrageous proposals to the attention of the American people, our DAV chapters and departments from coast to coast made themselves heard through letters, telegrams, and phone calls to the Congress and to the White House.
Our national service officers did double duty on radio and television programs, as well as in newspaper interviews, explaning the inequity of the ill-conceived proposals which would have deprived the wartime disabled of more than $160 million in direct compensation benefits.
Approximately 2 million letters were sent from our national headquarters to disabled veterans advising them of this budgetary cut and the resulting reduction in benefits. DAV national staff members were