Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Veto of Bill for the Relief of Ralston Edward Harry.

July 03, 1954

To the House of Representatives:

I am returning herewith without my approval H.R. 3350, 83d Congress, "An Act for the relief of Ralston Edward Harry."

This bill proposes to extend to Ralston Edward Harry, a United States citizen, who served in the Canadian Air Force during World War II, the same medical, hospital, and domiciliary care as that to which honorably discharged persons who served in the Armed Forces of the United States from September 1941 to July 1945 are entitled.

Mr. Harry did not serve in the Armed Forces of the United States. On May 14, 1949, four years after his discharge from the Canadian Air Force, Mr. Harry sustained severe injuries in an automobile accident which have and will continue to necessitate extensive medical care and hospitalization.

Under existing law the Veterans' Administration is authorized to enter into reciprocal agreements with our World War II allies to provide medical treatment and hospital care for their veterans upon a reimbursable basis and at the request of the government concerned. Although such an agreement has been entered into with the government of Canada, the Canadian authorities have advised that he has been afforded all the benefits of their laws and is not eligible for further treatment.

The committees of Congress which considered H.R. 3350, agree that Mr. Harry is not eligible for United States veterans' benefits. A majority of both committees recommended favorable consideration of the bill, however, upon the ground that Mr. Harry served honorably with the Royal Canadian Air Force and attempted to transfer to the Armed Forces of the United States upon its entry in the war.

I am advised that many thousands of United States citizens served in the armed forces of governments associated or allied with the United States in World War II. As the minority views of the Congressional committees indicate, approval of this bill would obviously be discriminatory against such veterans who have also returned to the United States and would constitute a far-reaching precedent.

Although I deeply sympathize with Mr. Harry's need, sympathy should not be permitted to abrogate the principles and rules of administration prescribed in the general law. As I have stated in the past, 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.

Heeding the special plea or the emotional appeal of hardship cases would eventually destroy the effectiveness of these programs. Approval of HR 3350 would not be in keeping with these principles.

DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Veto of Bill for the Relief of Ralston Edward Harry. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/232268

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