Veto of Bill Granting Veteran Status to Certain Former Members of Revenue Cutter Crews.
To the House of Representatives:
I am returning herewith, without my approval, H.R. 1498, Seventy-ninth Congress, an act "To correct the naval record of former members of the crews of the revenue cutters Algonquin and Onondaga."
The purpose of this bill is to confer a naval status upon the entire period of service rendered by the crews of the revenue cutters Algonquin and Onondaga during the War with Spain. The crew of the former vessel had 73 days' naval service and the crew of the latter had 17 days' naval service prior to August 17, 1898, when, hostilities with Spain having ceased, the vessels were turned back to the Treasury Department.
In withholding his approval of a substantially similar bill of the Seventy-third Congress--H.R. 5018--President Roosevelt said, "it stretches the imagination to declare men on a revenue cutter for seventeen days on the Great Lakes in August 1898 to be entitled to all the privileges of Spanish War veterans."
By conferring a military status upon the members of these crews, the bill would make them eligible for pension based upon 90 days' service. Members of the Algonquin are now eligible for pension based on 70 days' service (at a somewhat lower rate than for 90 days' service), provided they meet other statutory requirements. The bill would also authorize death pensions for widows and children of those crew members; and other benefits to crew members such as hospital and domiciliary care and burial allowances.
During the wars in which the United States has engaged, large numbers of persons have rendered valuable assistance in a civilian capacity to our armed forces. In granting veterans benefits, Congress has long differentiated between active military service and civilian employment with the armed forces. Approval of the bill would constitute a departure from this policy which I cannot justify.
HARRY S. TRUMAN
Harry S. Truman, Veto of Bill Granting Veteran Status to Certain Former Members of Revenue Cutter Crews. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231960