Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Anna Holder.

February 23, 1954

To the House of Representatives:

I return herewith H.R. 3733, "For the relief of Mrs. Anna Holder."

This measure, in directing the payment to Mrs. Anna Holder of the sum of $10,000, would provide a special legislative settlement of her claim that she is entitled to that amount from the Government as the beneficiary named in two $5,000 policies of National Service Life Insurance.

These policies matured in May 1945. Mrs. Holder, the sole surviving designated beneficiary, thereupon claimed the proceeds. She established that the deceased serviceman, an orphan, had been reared from early childhood by her parents, and that she occupied a de facto relationship. of sister for many years. The Veterans' Administration denied her claim, ruling that she did not come within the permitted classes of beneficiaries prescribed in the National Service Life Insurance Act of 1940, as amended. The correctness of the ruling of the Veterans' Administration under the applicable law is not disputed.

The Congress imposed specific limitations on the classes of beneficiaries permitted to be named under National Service Life Insurance maturing before August 1, 1946. Similarly, the Congress did not vest in the Veterans' Administration authority to grant exceptions from the general rule.

Therefore it seems to me irrelevant and unwise to accept as justification for this bill, the fact that Mrs. Holder could now qualify as a beneficiary under existing law, which was not made retroactive.

On the other hand, I believe that it is relevant to take fully into. account several other factors of great importance in connection with the National Service Life Insurance program as it existed up to 1946. The insurance was issued at peace-time rates which it was recognized would provide but a small fraction of the cost of the program if the United States should become involved in a war. Consequently, provision was made that all benefits payable because of deaths due to the extra hazard of military service would, in effect, be paid from appropriated funds. This was done by reimbursing the trust fund for such costs. Under these circumstances, it was considered desirable to restrict those eligible for benefits to the categories of persons to whose support the veteran might be obligated to contribute.

Finally, I cannot overlook considerations of equity to all beneficiaries as contrasted with the individual case in which the deceased veteran named an ineligible person as the beneficiary of his insurance. I have expressed the view, on other occasions, that 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. Otherwise, inequities are compounded, as is fully revealed by statistics reported by the Veterans' Administration. More than 3,200 claims of designated beneficiaries for the proceeds of National Service Life Insurance have been denied because they were not within the prescribed classes of beneficiaries. A great number of them involved relationships which appear to have been just as close and as real as that claimed by Mrs. Holder.

In my judgment, this is not a case in which the circumstances are so unique or exceptional as to justify a waiver of the law. I, therefore, withhold my approval from the bill.


Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Anna Holder. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233532

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