Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Veterans.
I wish to recommend action in the present session to renew the program of vocational rehabilitation for disabled veterans, which was in effect during and after World War II. Since the armed forces are now beginning to discharge men disabled in the current hostilities, renewal of these benefits has become a matter of urgency, warranting action before the present Congress adjourns.
During the last war, as at the present time, the first men to be released by the armed forces were those who had been wounded or otherwise disabled and were no longer able to serve on active duty. These men were-and are--entitled under permanent law to full medical treatment and to monthly compensation varying with the degree of disability. In addition, disabled veterans of World War II were given help by the Government in gaining the qualifications needed for civilian employment. In some cases, this meant completion of professional training interrupted by the war. In other cases, old skills had to be brushed up, or new skills acquired.
This program was authorized by Public Law 16 of the 78th Congress. Under this law, every disabled veteran who needed vocational rehabilitation in overcoming the handicap of his disability, was enabled to undertake any type of education or training for which he had aptitude and interest. The colleges and universities and the trade and vocational schools all cooperated in the program and many special courses were established. Arrangements were also made in many cases for training on the farm and on the job.
While the disabled veterans were in training, their tuition was paid by the Government and the Government financed their subsistence and school supplies.
In this way, thousands of disabled veterans were reequipped for jobs in civil life. In a great many cases, these men were able fully to overcome the loss of earning power which had resulted from their disability. In all, more than 550,000 disabled veterans have participated in the rehabilitation program authorized by Public Law 16.
However, the benefits of Public Law 16 are not available to men who began their military service after July 25, 1947. This means that most of the men disabled during the current campaign in Korea will not receive the kind of rehabilitation benefits which were extended to the disabled veterans of the last war unless new legislation is enacted. I hope that such legislation will receive favorable action by the Congress before the close of this session.
Disabled veterans will need rehabilitation assistance first of all. Later they may also need other kinds of help in readjusting to civilian status. The next Congress will have an opportunity to give full consideration to their longer range needs and to those of the able-bodied men, now in service, who will eventually be returned to civil life. In planning to meet these needs it will, of course, be essential to relate any new benefits to the readjustment problems which will actually face our future veterans. It will be necessary to review with care the experience gained in the veterans readjustment programs after World War II. This will take time.
Meanwhile, however, there is no reason for delay in meeting the immediate needs of the disabled servicemen who are now being released by the armed forces.
Very sincerely yours,
HARRY S. TRUMAN
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Alben W. Barkley, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
On December 28, 1950, the President approved a bill "to extend to certain persons who served in the military, naval, or air service on or after June 27, 1950, the benefits of Public Law Numbered 16, Seventy-eighth Congress, as amended" (64 Stat. 1121).
Harry S Truman, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House on Vocational Rehabilitation of Disabled Veterans. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230496