Veto of a Bill Relating to Veterans' Pensions.
To the House of Representatives:
I am returning without approval H.R. 9575, entitled "An act granting pensions and increase of pensions to certain soldiers and sailors of the Regular Army and Navy, and so forth, and to certain soldiers and sailors of wars other than the Civil War and to widows of such soldiers and sailors."
The bill contains a total of 367 items establishing special pensions and increased allowances to persons who have not been able to comply with the general laws. The bill contains many meritorious cases and a just recognition of their equities which can not be reached under these laws. I regret exceedingly, however, that I must withhold approval of the bill because of the number of cases which I do not deem worthy of public bounty. Most of these undeserving cases have been previously rejected by the Pension Bureau as having no sound basis upon which to construe any obligation in equity for the granting of special benefits.
As I do not wish to reflect upon any individual, I cite some instances in the bill without mentioning names, the facts as to which have been furnished to me by the Government agencies. And I may state that these are only examples and do not include the whole of the list which I believe would be excluded if the matter were reconsidered by the Congress. Such instances comprise--
A proposed pension for a man who was court-marshaled for drunkenness and conduct prejudicial to good order, sentenced to six months' confinement, and whose conduct during confinement was so bad that he was finally discharged without honor for the good of the service.
A proposed pension to a man who was discharged without honor because of chronic alcoholism.
A proposed pension to a widow whose claim was filed five years after the death of the veteran, and upon call having been made for evidence of legal widowhood, claimant abandoned her claim for a period of 25 years. A recent investigation indicates claimant was never the legal wife of the soldier.
A proposed pension to a man guilty of desertion and dishonorably discharged.
A proposed pension to a man shown to have been a deserter, to have been punished by confinement, and discharged without honor.
A proposed pension to a man for self-inflicted injuries incurred in attempted suicide.
A proposed pension to a man who was tried for desertion, convicted of absence without leave, and honorably discharged, having been found to have been mentally deficient, a condition that antedated his enlistment. There was no disability relating to service on which Federal pension should be granted.
A proposed pension to a would-be suicide, no disability relating to service on which Federal pension should be granted being indicated.
A proposed pension for a widow whose husband gave eight days' service, with no disability relating to the service.
A proposed pension to a man who still suffers from a wound in the throat self-inflicted with a razor, with no disability relating to the service.
A proposed pension for loss of a leg as the result of being struck by the fender of a street car while claimant was lying on the track in a completely intoxicated condition.
A proposed pension to a widow whose husband had only nine days service in a State militia, for which reimbursement was made by the United States; no disability relating to service being found.
A proposed pension to a man who spent most of his service in the hospital, and was discharged without honor because of diseases not contracted in line of duty; was shown to have been guilty of malingering by taking soap pills to aid him in appearing anemic, and was recorded to have remarked that he knew how to play it and proposed doing it as long as he could. His physical condition was not the result of service.
A proposed pension to a man discharged without honor because of diseases not contracted in the service in line of duty. His condition not being one upon which Federal benefits should be based.
I could add other instances, but it seems to me that even this number which appear neither to have law nor equity to justify them, warrants a revision of the bill, and that a larger dependence should be placed upon reports which are easily obtainable from the Pension Service.
The White House,
April 27, 1932.
Note: The House of Representatives referred the bill to the Committee on Pensions on May 3, 1932.
Herbert Hoover, Veto of a Bill Relating to Veterans' Pensions. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/207733