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From the Government's standpoint, cost must be one of the first considerations. As you have listened to the testimony, you have found that it costs about a dollar a day to give a man a home, clothe him, feed him, give him medical care, see that his clothes are kept clean, etc. These homes, as you understand, are little communities absolutely independent of the rest of the neighborhood. They have their own bakeries, their own stores, their own hotels, their own water systems, their own fire departments, their own theaters and amusement halls; every single facility that a town would have, they have. For a dollar a day the Government can take a man who is unable to take care of himself outside and bring him in and give him a home.
We all know that $30 a month sent by check to a man living in his own home is not enough, and certainly not if he has no home. He can not live on it.
So, for those men who are not bound by family ties so that they can not leave and go to a home—and they are vastly in the majorityit seems to me that your committee should seriously consider whether or not the domiciliary method of taking care of disabled veterans is not the best for the Government.
The CHAIRMAN. I thoroughly agree with you, Colonel. That is one of the great problems. But I have in mind this. Nominally you are under the direction of the Secretary of War. The result of it is that everything relating to the national home goes to the Military Affairs Committee of the House for consideration. Veterans Bureau matters go to the World War Veterans' Committee. Pension matters go to another committee. There is no point at which we can concentrate attention upon the staggering cost of taking care of these veterans. That cost will become increasingly greater through
Colonel MARSTON. You are entirely right.
The CHAIRMAN. The problem that is confronting the Government is this: How are we going to take care of these men most economically in the future, and how are we going to centralize public attention upon the cost in such a way that the people have the whole picture before them?
We can not do it unless we bring them together in some manner. How we shall bring them together is what this committee finally will have to decide. That is the problem.
I think it is agreed in this committee that your national board has done excellent work in connection with these national homes. Nevertheless, if we bring the present activities dealing with veterans' affairs together under one head without changing the law which now requires your board to be appointed by Congress, such board can not be controlled by the President or anyone that he may appoint at the head of veteraris' activities. That must be apparent. So that if you bring them together, you will have an independent organization within the supposedly consolidated units. In other words, you will have an organization that no one head can fully direct it. In that lies the weakness of your position. It seems to me that is a problem which we must take into consideration in deciding what sort of consolidation to effect. If we can not have an effective directing head, what is the use of having any?
Colonel MARSTON. Assuming that we all believe that the domiciliary scheme for a large part of the beneficiaries is right, we come down pretty nearly to the proposition of which organization 20 years from now-and whatever you do now must be done with a view to the future-which organization 20 years from now should be running the domiciliary care of the disabled veterans.
I think you will all be interested in this. General Wood is very modest. I would like to call your attention to the organization that cared last year for 50,000 men. Fifty thousand disabled veterans were cared for by the soldiers' homes.
The organization has a headquarters office in Dayton, Ohio; and I am very, very glad, indeed, that the headquarters are not in Washington. We were relieved of a tremendous amount of unnecessary work by not having them in Washington, and you Congressmen, I think, will agree with me that it is a fine thing that this is one office that you do not have to send your clerks to or go over to yourselves in order to correct troubles. All you have to do is to write a letter.
That headquarters consists of the president of the board and four executive officers, consisting of the general treasurer, Colonel Wadsworth, who has been appearing before congressional committees for 25 years—I do not know how long he has been in the home service, but I believe since the Spanish War; the chief surgeon; the inspector general; and an assistant general treasurer; just those four men, and a total clerical force of 11.
In my State and Mr. Beedy's State, which is one of the smallest States in the Union, the district manager of the Veterans' Bureau has over three times the clerical force and over three times the overhead that we have to care for all our work at national headquarters.
Mr. SCHAFER. Will the gentleman yield right there? Colonel MARSTON. Yes. Mr. SCHAFER. Are you taking the total personnel of that regional office, or just the personnel in his office ?
Colonel MARSTON. The total personnel.
Mr. SCHAFER. That is not a fair comparison. If you will take Veterans' Bureau cases, you will find that some of them have data that completely fill a folder almost a foot thick and some cases having two folders a foot thick filled with data. There is the question of service connection that enters into all veterans' bureau cases, and matters like that. The work is entirely different.
Colonel MARSTON. Entirely so. The question of service connection comes in just the same at our general headquarters.
To continue a bit, sir, in consolidation, it is pretty generally experienced that if you have one outfit with a minimum of employes, a minimum of overhead cost and combine it with another outfit with a maximum of those things, the maximum does not come down to the minimum. It is quite likely that the overhead, officers and employees of the soldiers homes, would soon come up to the Veterans' Bureau, or very nearly approach it.
I do not know whether it has been in evidence or not, but it is a fact, I understand, that the cost in the Veterans' Bureau for salaries which is the greatest part of overhead, is 58 per cent and the corresponding figure in the soldiers home is only 20 per cent.
It seems to me that with the prospect that the hospitalization part of the Veterans' Bureau activities will within a very short time, as your chairman has stated, be more or less done away with, I think this committee should seriously consider which sort of an organization they care to have carry on for the next 60 or 70 years.
The CHAIRMAN. Colonel, have you given any thought to the proposal to take in the Commissioner of Pensions of the Pension Bureau?
Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
Colonel MARSTON. Perhaps I have no business to say this, but it seems to me that the entire viewpoint is wrong. Your Veterans' Bureau has two activities, the hospitalization of beneficiaries and insurance; compensation and its various ramifications are nothing in the world but another form of pension.
Now you are suggesting that you take the Pension Bureau and its splendid organization, which has had even a longer tenure than the soldiers' homes, who have had the experience of developing a wonderful bureau, and turn that entire thing over to a very young organization to handle the pension proposition.
The CHAIRMAN. Let me call your attention to a very practical problem that the committee is facing. The Veterans' Bureau is the baby of the American Legion and of the World War Veterans Associations, as you know. Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. The present pensioners who are being taken care of by the Pension Bureau are a decreasing body of men and will continue to decrease as the years go by, and fairly rapidly at that. Assuming that we do not establish a pension system for the veterans of the late war, the Pension Bureau will gradually eliminate itself. But assuming, as you say—that compensation is not
. much different from pensions, and that the same body of men might well handle both, do you think there is any possibility of ever transferring the compensation division of the Veterans' Bureau from that bureau to the Pension Bureau, in view of the attitude of the veterans of the late war? Do you think they will be willing to segregate and divide up their unit, or permit it to be put under a different bureau?
Colonel MARSTON. I think that is a great problem. I would not want to say yes or no any more than you.
The CHAIRMAN. That is one thing that bothers me. How we are going to consolidate those units? Compensation and pensions are matters that ought to be under one organization.
Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. They logically belong together. Retirement pay for civil-service employees might well be included in the same unit, because you have exactly the same problem to deal with.
It seems to me quite apparent that it is impossible to take the Veterans' Bureau and turn it over to the Pension Bureau. Such a proposal would receive scant attention from Congress even if this committee should favor it. Then, would it not be better to bring the Pension Bureau into the Veterans' Bureau, so as to get them both under one head?
Colonel MARSTON. I think my answer to that must be the same as the answer to turning the activities of domiciliary care over to the Veterans' Bureau. It seems to me the old and experienced personnel is the personnel to trust, provided it has been successful, and certainly the Pension Office is one of the most successful bureaus we have in the country.
On that line, sir, I would like to suggest to you that the Pension Office and the soldiers' homes during their long period of business, have developed a very, very simple method of introducing the veteran to their benefits.
As you probably know, if a man, for instance, suddenly contracts chronic appendicitis and must have an immediate operation, all he needs to do is to walk into a soldiers' home hospital and drop his discharge down on the table, and he may be operated on in two hours. Of course, that is an extreme case. He is not examined in an hour and a half and then obliged to wait an average of six weeks, I think it is generally admitted, to find out whether he is to be a beneficiary or not.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you think the prospective beneficiary would lose the benefit that he now enjoys if the change were made ?
Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
Colonel MARSTON. I think what would happen with it would be this: Very soon there would develop within the management of the soldiers' home the red tape, perhaps necessary, that there is in the Veterans' Bureau.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not think so.
Colonel MARSTON. The more employees you have, the more officers, the more clerks, etc., we all know the more red tape is gradually developed. We have got to find jobs for all of them. The Pension Bureau is as free of red tape as the soldiers' homes.
Mr. MONTET. Mr. Chairman, I should like to ask a question before I go. I understand, General Wood, you have 11 homes throughout the country?
Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
Colonel MARSTON. Two. One at Hampton, Va., and one at Johnson City, Tenn.
Mr. GASQUE. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask one question: Do you contemplate erecting others in the South?
We started off behind the North. We had no Union soldiers, but we had soldiers of the World War, or we have soldiers of the World War now. I notice that the Soldiers' Home Board has not so far been very active in establishing soldiers' homes in the South.
General Wood. May I be allowed to answer that question? The Board of Managers of the National Military Home at the September meeting in 1928 recommended the establishment of a home in the South. Senator Fletcher, of Florida, at the last session introduced a bill which was passed by the Senate and came over to the House, where nothing was done with it. At the special session of the Senate, Senator Fletcher reintroduced the bill, which was passed by the Senate, providing for a home in the Southeastern States. That bill is now before the Military Affairs Committee of the House. I was
heard on it a week ago Friday and strongly recommended the establishment of a home in the Southeastern States.
Mr. SCHAFER. How about the Southwestern States?
Mr. SCHAFER. I should'like to ask one question. I take it from the statements that have been made, that Congress made a mistake in creating the Veterans' Bureau and should have put the compensa. tion section of the Veterans' Bureau under the Pension Bureau, and put the hospitalization activities under the soldiers' home. But what I want to ask you is this: Following your presentation, I arrive at the conclusion that you favor consolidating these activities in the Interior Department under an assistant secretary.
Colonel MARSTON. Yes, sir.
Mr. SCHAFER. If that will be beneficial, why not adopt the policy that every veterans' organization asks for, and consolidate them under a separate Cabinet officer? Many millions of veterans believe that they are entitled to recognition by having their affairs administered linder a separate Cabinet officer. That would solve the whole proposition.
Personally, I think that would be an ideal situation, if we could arrive at that conclusion without compromising the different views here. If the idea of putting them under an Assistant Secretary of the Interior is sound, then that same argument should strengthen the argument advanced by these veterans' organizations in behalf of the creation of a new Cabinet officer where only duties would be the administration of veterans' affairs.
What do you think about that proposition?
Colonel MARSTON. I must say, sir, that it hardly impresses me that the business is great enough to create a new Cabinet officer for it.
Mr. SCHAFER. We have a Cabinet officer in charge of these men when they go to war, and it is just as reasonable that they should be taken care of and given the same consideration after they come back, after having suffered and after having become afflicted with serious ailments. There are so many millions of these men.
The CHAIRMAN. Colonel, if you have finished your statement, we
ank you very much for your testimony. We appreciate your being here with us.
We have with us this morning also Col. C. W. Wadsworth, and we shall be glad to hear him at this time.
STATEMENT OF COL. C. W. WADSWORTH, GENERAL TREASURER
NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS
SUMMARY OF COLONEL WADSWORTH'S STATEMENT
Whatever disposition may be made of the question as to unification of veterans' agencies, it is hoped that a policy that meets the requirements of the veterans will be continued. The fact that up to the present nioment the Veterans' Bureau and soldiers' homes have been operating along the same line has not resulted in the Government making useless expenditures as the facilities of each are in full use. The Veterans Bureau can not be criticized if it retains a lot of patients in its hospitals who are in fact domiciliary