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Assistant Administrator for Legislation.
Information for House Committee on Veterans' Affairs.
MARCH 22, 1955.
1. This is in response to Mr. Bernstein's verbal request for information as to length of service in the Armed Forces during specified periods and average benefits received under the readjustment allowances provisions of Public Law 346, as amended.
2. Average length of service in the Armed Forces (estimated):
(a) War with Spain'
(b) World War I. (c) World War II
(d) Korean conflict 2.
1 Information on length of service during the Boxer Rebellion and the Philippine Insurrection not available.
2 Average length of service of veterans returned to civil life before Feb. 1, 1955. This average will be lowered as veterans currently in the Armed Forces are discharged.
3. On the average, World War II veterans who drew readjustment allowances for unemployment or self-employment received somewhat less than $20 a week for about 21.5 weeks, for an estimated total of $428.
F. W. KELSEY.
Cost of outpatient medical and dental care, Public Law 791 (81st Cong.), veterans, October 1950-December 1954
1 An outpatient visitor is one who receives outpatient services one or more times each month.
2 Costs of medical services provided by staff physicians are estimated on the basis of the average cost per visitor for medical services provided on a fee basis ($10.27 per visitor average fee-basis cost). Staff dental costs are based on the value of work completed by staff dentists according to the dental fee schedules of the States in which the VA stations are located.
MARCH 22, 1955.
Public Law 346 Training cost data.
ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR FOR LEGISLATION.
(Attention Mr. Bronaugh, Assistant Controller.)
This will confirm information verbally supplied this morning to Mr. Bronaugh of your staff respecting the costs of training under Public Law 346 through June 30, 1954:
Mr. BOYKIN. Mr. Thurston, who was the next one you wanted to put on?
Mr. THURSTON. Mr. William J. Otjen.
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM J. OTJEN, CHAIRMAN, NATIONAL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE, UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS
Mr. OTJEN. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, I would like, on the widow's matter, to add a little, if I may.
You have two bills. Congressman McDonough's bill is H. R. 4684, and prior to that was introduced H. R. 2867 by Congressman O'Hara. The bills were identical.
In our literature we have been carrying H. R. 2867 because it was introduced first, but we appreciate the introduction of the McDonough bill. There is no difference in them, and if it could be possible I would think it would be preferable if the two could be combined as authors because they were working together and carries the number 2867.
I noted the questions which were asked by Chairman Teague as to any justification, and the reference to letters he was getting from widows of World War II and World War I asking why they should not be put on the pension rolls the same as the Spanish War veteran widows.
I would state that the theory that we have followed-and it has been consistent all the way through--was that when we enlisted in 1898 or 1899 the pension policy of the United States was then established, and pretty firmly so.
Our service was almost identical both as to rate of pay, almost as to food, and we even wore the clothing which was supplied in prior conflicts. In other words, we consider that when we enlisted the pension policy of the Government was quite well established.
We went in under the same terms, and, therefore, the veterans of the Spanish War should have the policy of the pension department which was followed at the time of the enlistment.
I could, but I don't want to take the time of the committee, set out the history. Part of it is set out in Congressman McDonough's statement. But, following the pensions which were established for veterans of the existing army at that time, we have followed consistently along that line.
Mr. BOYKIN. Congressman Aspinall would like to ask you a question right there if you don't mind being interrupted.
Mr. ASPINALL. I have one question.
I wish that the distinguished witness would advise the committee as to whether or not he thinks very many of the people who took part in the Spanish-American War, and the wars or engagements which followed, thought very much about any of the benefits which would flow to them because of their service when they went into the service?
Mr. OTJEN. Well, those benefits to the veteran
Mr. ASPINALL. Let me ask you, do you think that those who entered the service in 1897 and 1898 and the years that followed thought through the question of pensions and benefits before they signed up? Mr. OTJEN. I would say most of them were young and I doubt if they did.
Mr. ASPINALL. I think that is a fair answer because it fits in with my thought about the two wars since then.
Mr. DORN. Let me say this: If I recall correctly, when the Spanish-American War started we asked for volunteers, and over 2 million men volunteered. We didn't have one-tenth of the room in the camps
to take care of the men that volunteered. That is a good illustration of the patriotism that existed in America then. You did not have room enough for but one-tenth of that 2 million that volunteered. Mr. ASPINALL. I think the gentleman is right.
Mr. DORN. And they volunteered because of patriotism and not because of any benefits or security and things like that that they might have gotten. Therefore, I think that the Spanish-American veteran is entitled to maybe some particular consideration because of that fact.
Mr. OTJEN. I think you have expressed it well, Congressman Dorn. I would say that when I went in 20 regiments were raised similar to regulars. I was in the 43d United States Volunteer Infantry, and we went to the Philippines. I will digress now and touch upon the Moro bill.
We only stayed 2 weeks in Manila, and we went to Samar. We were the first troops to land on Samar.
While I was on Samar we had some desperate fighting. In April 1900, 31 of us were up in the interior of Samar. We were surrounded by a force that was estimated at 1,200.
Mr. BOYKIN. How many of you were there?
Mr. ОTJEN. 31.
Our barracks were burned over our heads, and we dug into holes in the river bank, and fought for 5 days and nights. Twenty-one were killed and 5 wounded, and 4 or 5 of us got out uninjured.
That was called the Seige of Catubig. I can show you the reports in the War Department covering it.
But I want to touch on an engagement in which I did not participate.
We were relieved by the 9th Infantry, Regular troops. And a company of them were stationed at Balangiga, Samar. That was probably a hundred miles from where we were at Catubig. That company was surrounded and attacked and nearly the whole company and the officers were killed. Those who escaped broke through the lines and managed to make their way into the interior. But almost all of those 109 men and 3 officers were killed.
That engagement just lasted a few hours. It was one of the worst catastrophes we have ever had, considering the small number involved.
But when I say I am touching on the Moro bill I happen to know that when I served on Samar what tough fighting there was there, and I know when my regiment came home that both Samar and Leyte were so far from being at peace at the end of the period of the Spanish War, or when the insurrection occurred in 1902, that I feel it is very, very just that those men who participated in actual fighting following 1902 should go on a pensionable basis.
Reverting to the widows' bill, I think the suggestion of the Congressman was so good that I hardly need to quote it. But after the Economy Act when President Roosevelt signed the measure restoring Spanish War veterans' pensions, he set out that by reason of the lack of the benefits, hospitalization, and the lack of records, the lack of hospital facilities during the Spanish War, it placed them on a different basis from other veterans, and that he considered there was not a precedent for other veterans.
But when you refer to the patriotism of the group, I think that there was a very large number of Spanish War veterans who have never applied for a pension. They have been coming on now sometimes 15 or 20 a month for the reason that age and adversity have made it necessary for them to apply.
But estimates made indicate that that percentage for years was 50 percent or more who did not apply. That would be a good answer to what it will cost when we consider the number of veterans today, because I think when we consider the future wars that the number of pensions is very light compared to the total number engaged.
As I said, I would like to sketch briefly these various bills. There will be other speakers here on some of them.
Congressman Barratt O'Hara has introduced what is called the Navy bill, House Joint Resolution 151, and there will be speakers who served on those naval vessels, and I will not go into that except to say that we support it.
The dental bill, by Dr. Long, we think would be very helpful to us, and the State home bill, by Mr. Edmondson, H. R. 4986.
Referring to that outpatient treatment bill, it has not been covering the relief which we felt we would get from it. Mrs. Rogers has introduced H. R. 714, a bill which supplements that.
As to the history of that outpatient treatment, it was passed through both Houses and vetoed. But the two Houses passed it almost unanimously over the President's veto. The interpretation by the Bureau does not warrant the giving of relief which we felt was needed by reason of the fact that surgery outside of the hospital is not taken care of.
I wish to express the appreciation of our committee for the hearing you have given us, and I do not want to take up further time for the reason that the commander-in-chief, in his address to you, and Congressman McDonough have set forth the main plea which we make for the widows' bill, which was adopted by our last national encampment as the measure which we should ask for and urge because the widows are not able to work, or very few are able to work. When you refer to the pension it is as assistance and not intended to support them. If they would have the $75 which we ask, under the purchasing power of the dollar now at just slightly above 58 cents, you could see how it would be for a widow who needs medical care, doctors and things of that nature to get by on even $75 a month.
The last session of the Congress passed a bill giving veterans' dependents 5 percent additional because of that, and that gave the widows about $2.58 additional. But we felt that they needed the higher rate so much more, the specific amount of $75.
These bills, I feel, are all meritorious. I appreciate what Congressman Teague has said, that you could not pass all of them, that you have to take what is needed the most.
But these women who are passing away rapidly are reaching an age when some of them need attendants, and I feel that that is a measure that should be given most earnest consideration by the committee and should be passed if at all possible.
I thank you.
Mr. BOYKIN. Thank you very much.
The COUNSEL. Mr. Chairman, before the witness leaves I wonder if he would not want to correct a statement which was made before Mr.
Dorn's subcommittee several weeks ago about the pension for Major Rowan.
You stated at that time that Major Rowan did not receive a pension. Mr. OTJEN. That was the report I had.
The COUNSEL. I think the record should show, Mr. Chairman, that Major Rowan, the man who carried the message to Garcia, was retired in 1909 at his own request after 30 years of service. At the time of his death in 1943 he was in receipt of retirement pay of $328.12, and, furthermore, that his wife Josephine Morris Rowan went on the pension rolls the day after his death and received a pension until the date of her death. Of course Major Rowan could not receive a pension while he was drawing retirement pay.
I am sure that Mr. Otjen would wish the record correct on that point.
Mr. OTJEN. I certainly would.
Major Rowan was quite a noted character because that book was published, Message To Garcia. Thousands of them were published and sent out by manufacturers to encourage initiative.
I read an article-I think it was in the San Francisco paper and also the veterans' paper-that he was in destitute circumstances, and also refused a pension.
I stand corrected because I know that when you state that is the record it is correct. I wish to correct it.
The COUNSEL. That came from the Department of the Army.
(The letter referred to follows:)
APRIL 12, 1955.
Subject: Retired pay.
To: Chief, Legislative Liaison, Department of the Army, the Pentagon, Washington 25, D. C.
1. Reference is made to your communication dated March 31, 1955, and acknowledgment dated April 1, 1955, in the case of Maj. Andrew Summers Rowan, 013817, retired.
2. The file folder record of payments of retired pay effected to Major Rowan was destroyed during the year 1946, in accordance with approved procedures in effect at that time with reference to elimination of records after a period of 3 years following date of death. The Official Army Register for the year 1943 indicates Major Rowan was placed on the retired list effective December 1, 1909. The Official Army Register for the year 1944 indicates Major Rowan died on January 10, 1943 at the Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, Calif. The retained copies of retired pay vouchers on file in this office indicate Major Rowan was last paid retired pay at the rate $328.12 per month to include the date December 31, 1942. The net amount of the check also amounted to $328.12. The final payment was effected by check No. 4086050 dated January 1, 1943, and the payment appears on voucher No. 374001, the January 1943 accounts of Carl Witcher, Colonel, FC, symbol No. 210-846. The check was drawn payable to the Guaranty Trust Co., 140 Broadway, New York, N. Y., for credit to the account of the retired service member.
3. Jurisdiction of payment of arrears of retired pay for the period January 1 through 10, 1943 was vested in the United States General Accounting Office, Claims Division, Washington 25, D. C. In the event information is desired as to whether or not payment was effected for the period January 1 through 10, 1943, it is suggested inquiry be made of the above named office.
For the commanding officer:
W. R. HICKMAN, Lieutenant Colonel, FC, Congressional Liaison Officer. Mr. BOYKIN. We would like to have next the assistant legislative director of the VFW.
Mr. OTJEN. Could I introduce our senior vice commander in chief, Col. James Johnson of Concord, N. H.?
Mr. BOYKIN. Colonel Johnson.