Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Rose Kaczmarczyk.
To the House of Representatives:
I am returning herewith, without my approval, H.R. 898, 83d Congress, "An Act For the relief of Mrs. Rose Kaczmarczyk."
The bill would authorize and direct the Secretary of the Treasury to pay to Mrs. Rose Kaczmarczyk the sum of $4,344, which represents the service-connected death compensation she would have received for the period June 23, 1944, the day following the date of death of her son, William P. Kaczmarczyk, through April 3, 1951, if claim for such compensation had been filed within one year after the death of her son and she had been found to be otherwise eligible.
The evidence discloses that William Paul Kaczmarczyk served in the Army of the United States from June 4, 1942, until his death on June 22, 1944. After receipt of notice from the Department of the Army of the death of the serviceman, the Veterans' Administration, on August 25, 1944, mailed a letter to the mother of the deceased, Mrs. Rose Kaczmarczyk, expressing regret over the death of her son and enclosing an application form for death compensation, which gave instructions for its completion and return to the Veterans' Administration. There was no response to the letter by the mother, or anyone in her behalf, until April 4, 1951, the date of receipt of an application by Mrs. Kaczmarczyk for death compensation. Thereafter, she was awarded death compensation at the rate of $60 per month, effective April 4, 1951, the date of filing such claim with the Veterans' Administration, which is the earliest date from which such benefits are payable under existing law. Payment of such compensation has continued to date.
It appears that favorable action by the Committees which considered H.R. 898 was based on the belief that since the claimant could not read English and did not realize her rights, the delay in filing claim should be excused. It is pertinent to note in this connection that on August 11, 1944, the Veterans' Administration sent Mrs. Kaczmarczyk a form for claiming her son's $10,000 National Service life insurance, and that her completed claim for that insurance was returned to the Veterans' Administration five days later. Mrs. Kaczmarczyk was thereafter awarded payments for life in the amount of $66.50 per month, beginning June 22, 1944.
Further, it is indicated in the Committee reports that had Mrs. Kaczmarczyk filed a timely application for death compensation she would have been entitled to compensation in the sum stated in the bill for the period from June 23, 1944, through April 3, 1951. In order to have been eligible for compensation during the stated period, Mrs. Kaczmarczyk, in addition to filing a timely claim, would have had to establish that she was the dependent mother of the veteran during that period. I am informed that she has not submitted to the Veterans' Administration evidence--and it is not known whether she is in a position to do so-to establish that during the almost seven-year period under consideration she was in dependent circumstances.
The report of the Senate Committee also states their belief that the situation here involved is unique and would not constitute a precedent for future claims. To the contrary, I am informed that there are many other claimants for death compensation benefits, who, like Mrs. Kaczmarczyk, by reason of inaction on their part within the period established by laws are not entitled to retroactive awards of death compensation. To approve this bill therefore would obviously be discriminatory. As I have stated in the past, it is unwise to set aside the principles and rules of administration prescribed in the general laws governing 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 dependents are to be operated successfully.
For the foregoing reasons, I am unable to approve H.R. 898, which would authorize payment of compensation from a date almost seven years earlier than the date authorized by the general law and in a case where the evidence of record fails to establish that the claimant is otherwise eligible.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Mrs. Rose Kaczmarczyk. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232157