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college received $500 tuition and a $75-a-month subsistence allowance—the equivalent in 1972 dollars of $240 a month for a nine-month school year, according to calculations in one study. By contrast, vets now get $220, or the equivalent of $20 a month less.
Current student benefits and unemployment benefits often aren't much below what vets are offered on the job market. Indeed, the single biggest complaint of the returning veteran is that he is all too often offered only the most menial and dead-end jobs, positions without a future, even though he may have had military training in a specific skill, prior civilian experience, or an education that would seem to suit him for something much better.
A counselor at the Los Angeles Veterans Counseling and Guidance Center, pulls one case out of his files : a veteran with an honorable discharge and a bachelor's degree in chemistry who failed utterly to find a job in anything remotely connected with his background. He wound up pushing a broom as a janitor for a year before recently deciding to train for a different profession.
LAYING IT ON AT TRADE SCHOOL
Training schools come in for heavy fire from some veterans, who feel that they promise jobs upon completion of the course and then don't deliver. One critic is Pete Jigliotti, who was a helicopter mechanic in Vietnam and decided to adapt his military training to civilian life by enrolling in a civilian aircraft maintenance course at a trade school.
“They sure laid it on us,” he said. “They guaranteed us a job." But after finishing the course he was turned down by every one of the dozens of airlines and aircraft manufacturers he applied to. “I ran into three other guys I was in that school with, and not one of them found work. We laughed about it a little, but it was a pretty sour experience.” Mr. Jigliotti now is studying as a printer's apprentice and works at odd jobs to make ends meet.
Other veterans profess similar disenchantment with "job fairs," one of the major efforts on the part of private enterprise to promote the hiirng of veterans. Held across the country, they bring together large numbers of veterans and employers, thus casing job placement for everyone. Or so goes the theory.
However, veterans complain that all too often the jobs simply aren't there, or are dead-end positions. Last May veterans at a Chicago job fair got so angry they tore up information booths and started throwing chairs, shutting down the fair. (The Illinois Bureau of Employment Security, which helped sponsor the fair, says about 150 of 6,000 veterans attending it were hired then and there, and another 1,200 later).
MORE PAY IN UNIFORM
The National Alliance of Businessmen, which has as one of its goaw more hiring of Vietnam veterans, also comes under fire. The alliance says that in the year ended July 31 participating employers hired 136,000 veterans; the goal for the current year is 150,000. But the alliance doesn't know what kind of jobs, and at what pay, these pledges represent. Veterans complain that they are often the same old low-paying posts with little or no avenues to advancement, and a West Coast businessman formerly with the alliance agrees. “We were losing some potential hires because of the pay,” he says. “Some veterans were making more in the service as enlisted men than they were offered in their first jobs.”
Critics also feel that the VA hasn't done enough to educate veterans in telling them what their benefits are and helping them to take full advantage of them. Currently only about 44% of eligible Vietnam-era veterans are using their benefits under the GI Bill.
The VA has added many vets to its own payroll ; about 8% of the 184,000 VA workers are Vietnam era vets, and the agency says it intends to hire many more. Some are working in 72 veterans' assistance centers that have been opened in city neighborhoods to augment existing central VA facilities.
In New Orleans, the local VA office regularly sends a benefits specialist, a drug counselor and a social worker to community centers. And in Texas and California, mobile vans staffed by VA, employment service, and Federal Office of Education staffers make contact with vets in rural areas and small towns.
Veterans themselves have organized their own self-help groups in many cities to supplement government efforts. In Milwaukee, a veterans' information switchboard was opened recently and handled 300 phone calls in its first week—some
from veterans who weren't even aware that they are entitled to unemployment benefits. The switchboard service now has expanded into a dozen cities. And state emloyment services are also making special efforts now to deal with veterans' problems.
But many veterans remain unimpressed by the plethora of programs, the bureaucratic scurrying about. They have come home to a far cooler reception than the men who fought earlier wars; for them there have been few victory parades and free drinks at the corner bar. They agree with the Harris survey. which found that the unpopularity of this war, their war, "has worn off, to some extent, on those who fought in it.”
They say that the best proof of real public concern for them would be offering of decently paying jobs with some future to them. And many have not seen that yet. “I've just got to find something with a future in it," says Timothy Vermette, recalling his job-hunting odyssey. "I just can't spend all my life as a drifter.”
Mr. Dorn. If there is nothing further, the committee will stand adjourned until the call of the Chair to hear these other distinguished groups.
[Whereupon, at 11:48 a.m., the committee adjourned.]
LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS OF VETERANS'
THURSDAY, APRIL 5, 1973
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D.C. The committee met at 10 a.m., in room 334, Cannon House Office Building, the Honorable Wm. Jennings Bryan Dorn presiding.
Chairman DORN. The committee will come to order.
We are meeting this morning to resume the hearings on recommendations of veterans' organization.
We are particularly pleased this morning that our destinguished colleague from Oregon, Mr. Ullman, is to present our principal witness this morning.
Mr. Ullman is a much beloved Member of the Congress, vice chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which, as we know, is certainly one of the greatest committees of the Congress. on either side of the Capitol.
Mr. Ullman is on the Joint Committee on Internal Revenue Taxation; and on the joint committee handling Federal expenditures.
But I think I can assure you, Commander, he is not in favor of cutting the veterans programs or anything like that.
We are extremely happy to have Mr. Ullman with us, one of the most distinguished Members of the Congress.
Mr. Ullman, will you present our witness.
Mr. ULLMAN. Mr. Chairman, thank you for those kind words of introduction.
Chairman Dorn. Excuse me. I might say, Mr. Commander, that our colleague is also a veteran, having served with distinction in the Southwest Pacific during World War II.
Mr. ULLMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
It is always an honor to appear before this most distinguished committee.
I appeared a number of times before the previous chairman, and I am really pleased and honored to appear before you, Mr. Dorn, and know of your dedication in the field of veterans' affairs through the years.
A. O. Soderholm was born in Redwing, Minn., December 24, 1894; attended public schools there in Redwing; graduated from the School of Agriculture, University of Minnesota, in 1913.
He is one of five brothers that served in World War I.
He and his wife, Ora, have been married for 55 years, and have one son, who served in the Pacific for 4 years in World War II.
better coordination between these two facilities? Apparently, this is one of those situations that I found where the left hand doesn't really know what the right hand is doing. Is that a fair statement or not?
Mr. MAYE. Yes, sir; I think it is a very fair statement and I think in the case of the nonservice-connected; yes, it would be advantageous for the veteran himself to have a coordinated program between the two and I feel that the nonservice-connected veteran is being left out. He is eligible for DVR but generally he is not being referred to the State department of vocational rehabilitation and is not eligible for veterans vocational rehabilitation.
Mr. WYLIE. Last year we appropriated about $2 million for the vocational rehabilitation program in HEW and I see that in those terms, the program for the veterans is very modest and though the appropriation for this year is increased considerably, $543,000, in terms of the overall budget it is a very small percentage. Would you like to comment on that?
Mr. MAYE. Yes, sir, I would like to. You have got a lot of young men who are going to school, receiving educational benefits or taking correspondence courses, receiving educational benefits and they are doing this without any guidance at all. They may be taking courses or be involved in educational programs that will not benefit them at all when they finish that. In other words, the only gain that they make is the financial gain they may get for going to school. That is really a very poor motivating factor to go to school, for a person to seek any type of training.
Mr. WYLIE. I agree with you.
Mr. MAYE. I think it is money wasted. I mean that. Don't get me wrong. Don't cut the moneys off.
Mr. WyLir. What you are saying is it could be utilized better.
Mr. WYLIE. That is the place where I am coming out too, I think. I don't think it should be reduced but I think we can be using it more efficiently.
Mr. MAYE. Yes, sir.
Mr. WYLIE. President DeGeorge, just one more question and I will turn you back to the chairman. You have suggested that the paraplegic veteran or the veteran with a spinal cord injury be allowed to make more outside income before his benefits are reduced. I can't find it in your statement but I think I remember your saying that. Did you?
Mr. DEGEORGE. Yes, sir; I did. Our organization recommends that:
Mr. WYLIE. How much more in outside income should you be able to earn ?
Again, I would like to know the answer. There is no implication intended except to find out what your recommendation might be.
Mr. DEGEORGE. I have many things to say and I am going to call on our service director, Vír. Alan Langer, to let him ansver, if you permit me, sir.
Mr. LANGER. Mr. Wylie, we feel a non-service-connected veteran with a spinal cord injury would need somewhere in the area of $9,000 a year to live at an equitable level as a member of the community. What we have proposed is a program that would allow him to earn
income based on a $9,000 limitation but be subsidized. In other words, if he was earning say $5,000 he would be subsidized $4,000 through the Veterans Administration, something in that nature,. not necessarily those figures but something along those lines.
Mr. WYLIE. All right. How much can be earn in outside earnings now?
Mr. LANGER. $3,800 for a married veteran.
Mr. DEGEORGE. Mr. Wylie, if I may I would like to add a comment to that. As mentioned in our statement here today, we come across another area that once a veteran does seek gainful employment, that he loses his aid and attendance benefits. What we are really concerned about is he also loses his medical and prosthetic benefits. Again, I would like to reiterate that we would like to see that it be instituted where he would be entitled to his medical benefits even though he loses his aid and attendance, monetary aid and attendance.
Mr. LANGER. If I may add something, Mr. Wylie, the need for aid and attendance should be a medical determination rather than a financial and no matter what your finances are, you still have an ongoing need for medication, supplies, and prosthetics and with the cost of phosthetics and medical supplies today, you would have to earn a very large sum to be reasonably well taken care of.
Recently, Dr. John Young at the Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Institute in Phoenix figured the cost for a civilian paraplegic over a 20-year life span of $300,000 and for a quadraplegic over $500,000.
Ür. WYLIE. Thank you, gentlemen, for your very impressive contribution. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman DORN. Mr. Huber.
Mr. HUBER. Mr. Chairman, I just have one comment. I hope these gentlemen do not read the Congressional Record because if you read the Congressional Record yesterday, you saw printed in there the report that Congresswoman Griffiths gave of the abuses that have crept into our funding for welfare payments and the thousands and thousands of dollars that are being made available. You testify here of the dire circumstances under which you have available to you Federal assistance. When you look at the report that Congresswoman Griffiths gave us, it would be very upsetting, I am sure to you as it is to me. This is something that I hope to have some chance to change in favor of those who have given so much to this country instead of taking so much from it. That is my only comment, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. DEGEORGE, Mr. Huber, I would like to comment on that. Because of the activity of the last few days, I haven't had the pleasure of reading the Congressional Record nor do I believe our administrative people have. We will catch up with that article and believe me, we are used to the comments that you made about things that disturb us and I am sure we will look at it with great fervor and undoubtedly agree with you at that time.
Mr. HUBER. Thank you.
Mr. HAMMERSCHMIDT. President DeGeorge, I am sorry I was called away from the committee to a meeting and didn't get here to hear your statement but I assure you I will study it carefully. As you know, Mr. Maye and Jr. Langer appeared before our committee