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Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Raleigh Hill

September 01, 1954

I am withholding my approval from the bill, H.R. 6529, Eighty-third Congress, "An Act for the relief of Raleigh Hill."

The bill would authorize and direct the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs to pay the proceeds of National Service life insurance of Walter H. Nichols, Junior, to Raleigh Hill, uncle of the insured and designated principal beneficiary of such insurance.

National Service life insurance in the amount of $10,000 matured oft April 8, 1945, the date of death in service of Walter H. Nichols, Junior. The Veterans' Administration denied the claim of his uncle, Raleigh Hill, the designated principal beneficiary, on the ground that he did not stand in loco parentis to the insured and was therefore not within the permitted classes of beneficiaries, a statutory requirement applicable to National Service life insurance maturing prior to August 1, 1946. The correctness of the Veterans' Administration determination under the applicable law is not disputed.

Favorable action appears to have been predicated on a belief that because the restriction concerning the permitted classes of beneficiaries has been removed as to National Service life insurance maturing on and after August 1, 1946, payment should be made to an ineligible beneficiary in this case involving insurance which matured prior to August 1, 1946, and further, that the Government failed to advise the insured properly concerning classes of eligible beneficiaries. I am advised that the latter view is not supported by the record. As to the former, a similar view was urged in support of H.R. 3733, 83d Congress, which likewise proposed to pay an ineligible beneficiary the proceeds of a National Service life insurance policy. In my message of February 23, 1954, returning the bill without approval, I said that it seemed to me irrelevant and unwise to accept as justification for that bill the fact that the ineligible beneficiary could at the time of the message qualify as a beneficiary under existing law which was not made retroactive. My view has not changed and applies with equal force to the present case.

Furthermore, approval of H.R. 6529 would be discriminatory and precedential. I am advised that of the approximately 3,600 claims for the proceeds of National Service life insurance denied by the Veterans' Administration because the claimants were not within the classes of beneficiaries permitted by law, it is estimated that a majority were cases similar to Mr. Hill's where the claimants had been designated as beneficiaries.

As stated on previous occasions, I am opposed to setting aside the principles and rules of administration prescribed in the general law relating to veterans' benefit programs. Uniformity and equality of treatment to all who are similarly situated must be the steadfast rule if the Federal programs for veterans and their beneficiaries are to be operated successfully. Approval of H.R. 6529 would not be in keeping with these principles.


Note: This memorandum was released at Lowry Air Force Base, Denver, Colo.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Memorandum of Disapproval of Bill for the Relief of Raleigh Hill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231794

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