The President's News Conference
WORLD WAR VETERANS' PENSION BILL
THE PRESIDENT. I have a number of questions this morning on the matter of veterans' relief. This is a problem in which we are dealing with the sick and disabled veterans, and except for some marginal cases the Government has long since generously provided for the men whose disability arose from the war itself. The cases that are in front of us, except for a comparatively small number of marginal cases on which there is some dispute on technicalities, are in reality the men who are disabled from the incidents of civil life. The whole matter is one that has to be approached in a very high sense of justice and a great deal of sympathy. But this veterans' bill is just bad legislation. It is no more in the interest of the veterans than it is in the interest of the taxpayers. The financial burdens, the amount of which has again been reaffirmed by General Hines this morning--and they were very considerably increased by Senate amendments yesterday--do constitute a serious embarrassment to the Government and to the country, but there are other objections to that bill that are even more serious.
The bill selects a particular group of 75,000 men, at the outside 100,000, and makes a provision for them in the most wasteful and discriminatory way that is conceivable. It entirely neglects the equal rights to help of over 200,000 more men who are veterans and who are likewise suffering from disabilities that have been incurred in civil life and since the war.
Furthermore, the very basis of the bill sets up a perfectly untruthful and, according to all of our physicians, a physically impossible presumption, and predicates all of its action on such a falsehood. For instance, a man who has served a few days in his hometown or in a camp, and who has afterwards enjoyed 7 to 12 years of continuous good health, and after all that time if he incurs any affliction he is thereby declared to have a disability due to the war. And he is to be compensated and pensioned on the same basis as the man who has suffered in the trenches and on the actual battlefield.
It contains a lot of other discriminations of equally important order.
Now, these things violate not only the fact but the very integrity of Government action. It is a very sad thing if our people as a whole--if the Government is to set standards of subterfuge to the people. It is unfair to all the other veterans who have become disabled in civil life, and it is unfair to the whole spirit of the World War veterans.
Now, there are emergency and marginal cases which I have insisted should be cared for--which I recommended to Congress in my message should be provided for and will be cared for. And there is additional necessity for us to study the broader subject exhaustively before we plunge into it.
The American Legion presented a bill which they designed to cover these emergencies. It had the earnest support of many administration members, but their views have been overridden. The sensible thing to do is either to take care of these emergency or marginal cases and then soberly determine future action, or alternatively to make the beginnings of sound action now on such foundations as will contribute to the ultimate settlement of this problem with real justice to the veterans themselves and with broad generosity in the solution of the whole question. Such action can be taken within our present financial resources, and I believe the country as a whole would support it. I do not believe the country will support this type of legislation.
That is all.
Note: President Hoover's one hundred and twenty-first news conference was held in the White House at 12 noon on Tuesday, June 24, 1930.
Frank T. Hines was Director of the United States Veterans' Bureau.
On the same day, the White House also issued a text of the President's statement on the World War veterans' pension bill (see Item 203).
Herbert Hoover, The President's News Conference Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/210847