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know, I am delighted that there were a number who intervened between Mr. Saylor's presentation and that of Mr. Teague and the beautiful Mrs. “Peggy” Heckler.
I don't know how you can follow an act like that. I can't.
I am gravely concerned about the problem of hospital beds for our veterans. Mr. Saylor did a beautiful job of delineating just what has happened to our resources in hospital beds, eroding away from well over 100,000 to now where they are trying to level it off at 80,000.
It is true that if you move enough people through these beds fast enough, sort of like hotdogs coming out of a sausage machine, you know, you can probably take care of more numbers of patients with less beds than we used to. But are we giving them proper medical care when we do it? I say "No." I think we have to have enough beds to meet the needs of today's veteran population, the people who are entitled to this care.
This is not a privilege; it is a statutory right. When you and I and others entered the armed services, a part of the contract with the Government was that if and when we needed hospital care we were to get it. I propose to do what I can to see that we do get it. [Applause.] And in doing so, I want you to know I do not favor the hot-sheet treatment of veterans who need hospitalization. There should be a reasonable margin of emergency. There should be some kind of a reasonable margin of extra beds.
When we had the great earthquake in California a couple of years ago, I was out there and I talked with the directors of our hospital program, and they told me that but for the fact that there was a margin of something like 10 percent available in the nearby hospitals there simply would have been no place to put these veterans who were driven out of the hospital which collapsed in San Fernando.
And you people in the DAV well know, with your disaster relief program, that there are times when powers beyond the strength of any of us bring disaster to our communities. And then we have to have a margin of extra sa fety. And I am for that margin in our beds.
Not long ago I was in the Long Beach Hospital. I visited the spinal cord section. We had 205 beds. It is an excellent facility. I am not talking about quality, but we have 205 beds; 204 were occupied. po boy What are you going to need when you suddenly have an emergency that requires care? Are you going to turn someone out? That is insufferable; it is unacceptable; and I won't put up with it.
Now, we have about 30 million veterans in the United States, give or take a few. The World War I's are averaging 77 or 78 years of age. The World War II's, of which I am one, run about 57 to 58 years of age. The Korean veterans are hitting 50.
What that means is this: As we grow older, as our spare parts begin to wear out, we need more care. We cannot now cut back on the facilities that are provided to meet the needs of the people who need more care now than they ever did before.
Now, on cemeteries I am delighted to see that you support our program of bringing all the Government cemeteries under the VA.
In southern California, which I represent, we have about 2 million veterans. We have about 3 million in the State of California. How many cemetery spaces are available ? Zero. Zero!
When a veteran dies in California today, if his family wants him buried, if his family wants him to take his statutory rights of burial in a national cemetery, the nearest place they can find is either in New Mexico or the State of Washington. That is a shame. The family should have a right to have this veteran buried at a place that is reasonably near to his loved ones.
With 30 million veterans—and we know where they live-it is incumbent, it is our duty, to provide national cemeteries scattered throughout the United States in locations that are reasonably near to the family of those veterans. And I am working for that. [Applause.]
I am most pleased with your statement on amnesty. It is a very responsible statement. Like you, I agree: There should be no blanket amnesty. [Applause.] But there is an area for repentance and an area for mercy
in all justice. Justice is always tempered by mercy. And just as you say, those who chose to flee should be held accountable. But in each case, in order to find where the mercy should fall, each case should be considered and decided on its own merits.
If there is room for some mercy, for some amnesty in some individually selected cases, fine. Let's do it. That is traditional in America. But let's not do it on a blanket basis.
Last, I want to commend your goal to meet the needs of unemployment among our veterans.
All veterans, but particularly the disabled veteran. I believe that it is encumbent upon us, as a government, to explore and conduct research, to seek out opportunities to employ the great skills and talents of the handicapped people, be they veterans or otherwise, but obviously the veteran should have a priority.
And I want to commend this great organization, the DAV, for its scouting program for handicapped youngsters.
I have had an opportunity to watch it here and there, to observe it. And it is a great program. And, you know, I think you have a better rapport with these handicapped kids than anybody elso possibly could.
A kid who is handicapped is much more willing to accept advice and guidance from someone who, too, is handicapped; who, too, knows what it is to not quite fit the normal pattern of employability.
So, God bless you on that and your other programs. I thank you for being here and hope I will have a chance to visit with more of you individually.
Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr. HAMMERSCHIMIDT. Mr. Chairman, I know the hour is late. The House is in session. I want to make just a brief remark to the commander and to the distinguished audience here.
As you know, "Tiger” Teague has been a great leader for us in this committee. We hated to see him leave. We know that he will serve the Nation well in his new capacity and he has not left the committee. He will continue to serve us here.
But, as you said in your statement, if we were going to pick a man to replace him I don't know how you would do a better job, even though it came about through the seniority system, which is a good system.
We now have a chairman who has served a quarter of a century alongside “Tiger” Teague. And I want the members here to know that Bryan Dorn is a very beloved individual to us. He is highly respected. And we on the minority side know that he is our leader, and we want to follow him and we are just delighted that he is our chairman. [Applause.]
Chairman Dorn. Thank you, John Paul.
I do want to say that "Tiger” Teague would be here today, but as another manifestation of the esteem in which he is held by his colleagues in the House, he is the chairman of the Democratic caucus, so he is over there presiding. And “Tiger” Teague unquestionably is one of the greatest men that it has ever been my privilege to know in these 25 years, and I know of no man in American history who has done inore for the veterans of our country than “Tiger” Teague. [Applause.]
Before closing, the Chair would like to present to you the greatest staff on Capitol Hill. I will ask the committee staff members to please stand. Applause.]
Thank you, Mr. Commander.
[Whereupon, at 12:15 p.m., the committee meeting was adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF VETERANS'
LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMS OF AMVETS AND
PARALYZED VETERANS OF AMERICA
THURSDAY, MARCH 29, 1973
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a.m., in room 334 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., Hon. William Jennings Bryan Dorn (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Chairman Dorn. The committee will come to order. The committee is happy to have with us this morning representatives of several of our great veterans organizations. One that we have had close association with over the years, of course, is AMVETS and we have the national commander with us this morning and we have his Congressman who is a member of this committee and a very welcome addition to the committee who represents the 18th district of the great State of Michigan, hometown Troy, Mich., and he is himself a veteran of World War II. He looks more like a veteran of Vietnam or Korea, but he did serve in World War II. I am going to ask Mr. Huber, Congressman Huber, who is respected here on the committee to present the distinguished witness from AMVETS.
Mr. HUBER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am delighted to have the opportunity to present to you, Mr. Chairman, and the members of the committee, the national commander of AMVETS, Mr. Joseph R. Sanson of Detroit, Mich., the present national commander of AMVETS which is the American Veterans of World War II, Korea, and Viet. nam. He was elected to this position at the organization's national convention in New Orleans on August 27, 1972.
As leader of the one-quarter million members, he initiates, expedites, and establishes programs in traffic safety, scholarship, community serv ice, Americanism, drug education, and national security. He also repre sents AMVETS in presenting their legislative aims to Members of Congress.
Prior to his selection as national commander, Mr. Sanson served AMVETS in Michigan on local, State, and national levels. He has been a post service officer, member of the Michigan State Service Foundation, legislative director and had many other committee assignments. He has been commander of his post, district, State, and represented Michigan as national executive committeeman. During his many years as a member, he served the national organization as a member of the legislative committee, national security commission, personnel committee and finance committee and as national finance
officer. Mr. Sanson has served as a member of the board of managers of the Michigan Veterans Facility Home for the Needy Veterans, for the past 21 years having received appointment to that board by four Michigan Governors and won numerous AMVET awards and won the Silver Helmet as national AMVET of the year, past post service officer, Michigan, for 3 years, Michigan, Distinguished Service Award and numerous other citations.
During his military career, he saw service with the 20th Infantry Division during World War II when he participated in four major campaigns in Europe including Northern France, the Ardennes offensive, Rouen and in Normandy. Until his retirement on September 1, 1972, Mr. Sanson served as administrative director of the Wayne County Treasurer's Office in Detroit and though presently residing in Washington, Commander Sanson and his wife Helen maintain their residence in Detroit. They have a married daughter and one grandchild.
It is my extreme pleasure to present to you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, the national commander of the AMVETS, Joseph R. Sanson.
Mr. Sanson. Thank you very much, Congressman Huber. Chairman Dorn. Thank you, Congressman Huber. Commander,
I would like for you to present at your pleasure the distinguished gentlemen with you there. I notice the past national commander, Marshall Miller, a very good friend of mine and your legislative director, Mr. Sanchez. I would still like for you to present them to the committee and I might say, Mr. Huber, I expect I have known Commander Sanson perhaps longer than you have. He is a very dear friend of mine. I started to say, an old friend, but a young friend of long standing and I do want to commend you and the great State of Michigan. I think it is certainly the greatest veteran State and I have been to all of them, perhaps in the Union. I have had the pleasure of visiting virtually all of the veterans' organizations in Michigan at one time or another. It has been a very happy experience to visit with the convention of AMVETS on numerous occasions, and we certainly respect your great organization. You are reasonable in your requests to the committee and forthright in your defense of veterans' rights and veterans' legislation and we are just happy to have you with us.
If you would present the gentlemen with you, I would appreciate it.
Commander Sanson. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. It is with a great deal of honor and pleasure that I introduce Mr. Marshall Miller, one of our former national commanders and a very, very helpful gentlemen in the field of legislation. Mr. Lester Speir, one of the prominent consultants of our national legislative committee, Mr. Leon Sanchez, who poses in the double role of national legislative and service director and does a tremendous job. If I may, Mr. Chairman, I would like also to introduce the backbone of my administration, the person who puts up with all my problems, my dear wife Helen sitting back here
Our national auxiliary president took ill the other day and as a result was delayed in her trip to Washington and she would like to be remembered to the committee. She is a very fine person, Mrs. Doris Burdine from the great State of Georgia. I would also like to, if I may,