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SPANISH WAR VETERANS' BENEFITS

FRIDAY, APRIL 22, 1955

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON SPANISH WAR OF THE
COMMITTEE OF VETERANS' AFFAIRS,
Washington, D. C.

The subcommittee met, pursuant to recess, at 10 a. m., in room 356, Old House Office Building, Hon. Frank W. Boykin, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.

Mr. BOYKIN. The committee will come to order.

The first witness will be Hattie B. Trazenfeld, United Spanish War Auxiliary. Mrs. Trazenfeld, will you come up, please.

STATEMENT OF HATTIE B. TRAZENFELD, NATIONAL SECRETARY, AUXILIARY UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. My name is Hattie B. Trazenfeld. I am the cochairman of the national legislative committee and the national secretary of the auxiliary.

First, with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to bring you the greetings of my national president, Mrs. Cecilia M. Johnson, who is on official business in the West and asked me to express her sincere thanks to you and the members of your committee for giving us an opportunity to be heard this morning.

Mr. BOYKIN. We are certainly glad to get that message. It is a pleasure to have you here, madam.

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. Thank you.

I believe that the first thing that we should do when we make a request for any assistance or for any recognition is to show whether or not we have contributed to the project that we are discussing. With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I would like to have entered into the record a little pamphlet here that I believe will show more clearly and more fully than any yet recorded the historical facts of the accomplishments and the contributions of the Veterans of the Spanish American War to the welfare and the perseverance of our country. Mr. BOYKIN. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The pamphlet referred to follows:)

WHY ONE SHOULD BE AFFILIATED WITH THE SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VETERANS

A veteran in America's first war for humanity.

A veteran of the only 100 percent volunteer army the world has ever known. A veteran of the only war in history that has paid dividends.

A war that was not fought to a draw. We dictated the terms.

It was responsible for the building of the Panama Canal.

It was responsible for the passage of the National Defense Act.

It caused the abolition of yellow fever and kindred diseases.

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It united the North and the South so that there is no North or South now, no East or West, but one great people united under one great and glorious flag. It furnished every commander in the World War, from the commander in chief on down.

It was the first campaign fought on foreign soil.

We fought the war with poor equipment, poor food, antiquated guns and black powder.

The commands preserved their State entity and were responsible for the honor of their State.

It caused the improvement in maintenance of the Army and Navy and for the formation of a standing army through training camps.

It marked the industrial reconstruction of the South.

It taught the lesson of unpreparedness that claims more lives than war.

It caused the United States of America to take the head of the table in the concert of nations.

It marked the rebirth of a nation.

It marked the last great conflict between the people of a free self-governing republic and that of the last absolute monarchy.

Four hundred fifty-eight thousand were engaged in this conflict. Exceeding in number those engaged in the Revolutionary War or the War of 1812. Also the Mexican War.

The losses in deaths from all causes were 4.3 percent, as compared with sixtenths of 1 percent for the Civil War and seven-tenths of 1 percent for the World War.

The average length of service was 14 months, as compared with 9 months for the World War and 11 months for the Civil War.

The pay was $15.60 a month, as compared with $30 for the World War. We received no bonus, and no war risk insurance, no adjusted compensation, no vocational training, and no hospitalization until 1922, 20 years after the

war was over.

The cost of the war was $1,800 million, the Civil War $8,500 million, and the World War $50,800 million.

Property was acquired valued at eight billion as compared with none for the Civil War and none for the World War.

The average pension after 20 years was $21, as compared with $28 for the Civil War, and $126 per month after 3 years for the World War veterans, 61 percent saw foreign service, as compared with 46 percent for the World War veterans, 73 percent of our veterans were sons of Civil War veterans and 42 percent saw service in the World War.

The duration of the war with Spain and the Philippine Insurrection was 4 years and 2 months, as compared with 4 years for the Civil War and 1 year and 7 months for the World War. Our motto is Freedom, Patriotism, and Humanity.

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. I believe that we have established that our veterans of the Spanish-American War did contribute substantially and assist greatly in the establishment of our Nation as a first-class nation of the world, and through their service laid the groundwork that made it possible today to appropriate the splendid funds which we do for foreign aid. I believe that they assisted in that. I believe that the foundation and the groundwork that they laid made possible our great contributions to aid those foreign countries today: The $68 billion that we have appropriated for foreign aid in the past 15 years, the $10 billion that we have appropriated in the last 10 years, and the $3.5 billion that is requested now.

I mention that because I believe their contribution to the welfare of this country and the standing of this country is a pertinent fact in the request that we make to you today. I believe that it makes plain our feeling that there is an entitlement to the dependents of those men who served in that day.

I read here the report from the Bureau of the Budget. I cannot agree that it is entirely accurate. It says here that if this bill should

be enacted into law, the cost would remain static for 5 or 6 years. In fact, I believe it says for the next several years.

I do not believe that it could, at the rate that our veterans are dying and at the rate that our widows are dying.

Mr. BOYKIN. What if it did? I wish it would. I wish they could live.

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. It would be fine if it did, but unfortunately, if they are figuring in dollars and cents on the possibility of these veterans and widows living for those years, I believe we can show the fact that it is not possible that the costs could remain static.

When a veteran dies who received $101.59 a month, and a widow receives $54.18 as she does today, right there is a great decrease, and the widows are also dying at a terrific rate, as I can tell you from the letters received in my office.

I believe that after the first year, the rate of death of our veterans and of our widows would bring the cost down almost to the amount that they are paying now. I do not believe that the facts will show there will even be a need for an additional appropriation to take care of the appeal that we come to you with this morning.

I think the entitlement goes back to the fact that a wife is dependent upon her husband. When that husband has passed away, she naturally is dependent on what was left. If in his life he has been unable, through circumstances over which possibly he had no control, to accumulate an estate from which she can live on the income, I believe that she should participate in the assets that he has helped to create.

I believe the veterans of the Spanish-American War helped to lay the foundation for creating the assets that Americans enjoy today.

Mr. BOYKIN. They certainly saved all they did have. They certainly saved it. It is a good statement.

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. We have tried to show the contribution, and we have tried to show the entitlement. I believe the next and most important thing of all is the age of the widows of the Spanish-American War and their need.

The great majority have passed 70 years of age, and the vast majority of that group are in need of this pension to live on. You and your committee will be informed, and the Veterans' Administration and the Director of the Budget can tell us that these widows received an increase of 72 percent a couple of years ago and last year an increase of 5 percent. If the case had been adequate, those increases would have been marvelous for our widows, but the base of their pension was so low that the increase was only a couple of dollars and hardly covered the cost of a loaf of bread each day for a week. They are still terrifically in need.

When I use the word "need," I do not mean charity. When I have worked a week for a week's salary, at the end of the week I need that salary to cover my expenses. If I have not worked and I have no income and need assistance, then I need aid that could be termed charity; but, as I told you in the beginning, I feel that they have contributed, and what they receive is a need to which they are entitled. They have a right to share in that which has been created by their veteran husbands.

Mr. Chairman, I have here excerpts from several letters from widows that we receive at our headquarters, almost every day of the year.

Some of them are very pathetic. I do not believe that it is fair or right that I should take up the time of your committee to go through all these letters, but, with your permission, I would like to comment on a few of them.

I have one here from a lady who is 75 years of age. She has nothing in the world to live on except her pension. She did have three daughters. One died at 16, 1 at 23, and 1 at 30 years of age. Now her husband has gone. Her life has not been smooth. She is most grateful for what she has had, and she is able in the summer to do a little to supplement her income, but when the cold weather comes, her arthritis cripples her and she is unable to do anything. She needs medical attention and is unable to secure it with the pension that she is receiving. She would be so grateful if they could see fit to give the $75 that we are requesting.

Others in here are very much on the same order, and, with your permission, may I have them entered into the record?

Mr. BOYKIN. Without objection, it is so ordered. (The excerpts referred to follow:)

EXCERPTS FROM LETTERS RECEIVED AT HEADQUARTERS, NATIONAL AUXILIARY, UNITED SPANISH WAR VETERANS, FROM WIDOWS OF SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR VETERANS

APRIL 19, 1955.

DEAR NATIONAL PRESIDENT: Sorry I have gotten so far behind with my dues and am so thankful to have back dues remitted. I just could not help getting back. I have wanted so much to pay but so many things I have to pay out money for. I have been sick in the hospital two winters. When I pay my light, milk, water, taxes, and fuel, then buy a few bites of food, the $54.18 is gone.

Of course, I am thankful for what I get. Through the summer I am able to do a little sewing but when winter comes I am so tired out that I get a cold easy, then doctor's bills. How good it would seem to have our folks raised to $75? Age is creeping up on us. I will soon be 75 years old, but I am thankful that I can still sew a little and have my little garden. My Father up in heaven has been so good to me. I am very thankful. I pray God's blessing on you folks in the District of Columbia.

(Signed) Mrs. SARAH A. WILLIAMS.

MARCH 3, 1955.

DEAR NATIONAL PRESIDENT: I hope pending bill to increase pensions of SpanishAmerican widows will pass. I am 80 years old and I am sick and infirm and need the increase very much.

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DEAR MADAM PRESIDENT: I have read the item on the pension for SpanishAmerican War widows and I noticed your interest. No doubt you know, as each woman does, what it takes to live these days. I am in my 70's. I have arthritis and now my blood pressure has gone up to 240° and has been that high for about 6 weeks. I have to have a doctor at least each week and I am trying to get along on my pension. It just can't be done. I tried keeping track of the groceries and a bit of meat for 3 months and, believe me, it proved it just can't be done. I am telling you there were no luxuries included on that list. Then there was gas, electric, and water which the pension did not cover at all. What can a poor widow do?

My man was a born soldier and he gave all that was in him to give. When we read of the increase in pay for people who have large incomes, how do they expect an aged woman to live on this pension a month? Some people may have some one to give them a bit of help; others are less fortunate. daughters-all died; 1 at 16, 1 at 23, and 1 at 30 years of age.

We had three

I haven't had

a very smooth life, but I did have a husband who was loving, thoughtful, and kind.

Hope I haven't done anything wrong by writing you, being down sick and worried wondering how to get along.

Just a brokenhearted widow.

APRIL 1955.

DEAR NATIONAL PRESIDENT: Regret I have not been able to pay my dues but I have been sick for a couple of years now and have spent 7 months in bed most of the time, and it takes about all I can do to live. Doctor's bills, food, and medicine is so high and I have to get on what I draw. I am not able to do anything at all. I can hardly dress myself. I am thankful for having my dues remitted. Respectfully,

(Signed) ADA M. CASON. MARCH 1955.

DEAR NATIONAL PRESIDENT: I am indeed grateful to all members of the national organization who are doing all they can for the widows of Spanish-American War veterans. I am a lone widow with no family or relatives who can care for

me.

I have inquired about a home where widows are accepted but seems there are none for widows in Pennsylvania. Do you think you can obtain any information for me? I am 80 years old but still taking care of myself. I would like to go in a home with other old women for our pension has not been enough to live on elsewhere. Of course, I am thankful for what I do receive. I do hope and pray there is not another economy act as there was in 1933 but I have been reading some of the articles in the papers and it seems there is something going on.

I will thank you for any information you may be able to give about an old ladies' home.

Sincerely,

(Signed) ALTA M. DOWLING.

Mrs. TRAZENFELD. I am deeply concerned, as is every widow of a Spanish-American War veteran-I am not a widow, thank the Lordwith the thought that our commander in chief so ably expressed on several occasions, that if there is to be a great cost in anything, or if the budget is balanced with difficulty, or if the expenses of the country are mounting a little higher than we think they should, immediately something must be done with the veteran.

I do not believe we can be so deeply concerned over the balancing of the budget. This morning's paper refers to the request for this $3.5 billion in foreign aid bill. It informs us there are over $10 billion left of the $68 billion that has been appropriated, so in addition to the $10 billion, they are asking for $3.5 billion more.

If our concern were so great for our own country or for our budget, we certainly would not be quite so generous in helping these others. We could not be. We could not be if we were afraid that the economy of the Nation is in jeopardy. I thought that was food for thought and review.

I believe that we could answer very nicely the question that was asked by our distinguished chairman of the Veterans' Affairs Committee yesterday as to what we are going to do with all the veterans who want hospitalization, the 21 million veterans that we have today. Yes; we have more than 21 million veterans. We will have more, I am

very much afraid.

However, I contend that if history records its facts correctly, we have never even had 50 percent of our veterans apply for aid or medical attention, and I do not believe that percentage will increase, because our veterans are dying at the rate of 90,000 a year.

Our people are interested only in one thing, our widows. They want to be able to have a roof over their heads, enough food to sustain the body, and clothing just to cover the body. It does not have to be in

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