« PreviousContinue »
urge you to assume a personal crusade and give all of your mind and your heart to the passage of this praiseworthy bill.
Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Bailey, have you any questions?
Mr. BAILEY. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman has made a very able presentation and summarization of
the bill. I believe there are no questions necessary for me to ask at this time.
Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Irving, have you any questions? Mr. IRVING. I have no questions. Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Perkins. Mr. PERKINS. No questions at this time. Mr. KELLEY. Mr. Jacobs? Mr. JACOBS. No questions. Mr. KELLEY. Mr. McConnell? Mr. McCONNELL. Have you read this bill introduced by Mr. Kelley, H. R. 3095 ?
Mr. PACHLER. I have read it. I have the bill before me.
Mr. McCONNELL. I am wondering what is meant by the language in line 11, page 2, “(f) to provide financial grants to handicapped who are totally and permanently disabled;".
What does that mean?
Mr. PACHLER. I presume that it means in those cases that are thoroughly investigated, where it is found that they cannot be rehabilitated, grants such as $60 a month, things of that sort, would be put into effect. There is a provision in this bill for a $60-a-month payment and I believe that is what it means; a $60 payment to somebody permanently disabled.
Mr. MCCONNELL. Thank you.
Mr. KELLEY. The next witness is Col. Robert S. Allen, Washing. ton, D. C. You may proceed, Colonel Allen.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT S. ALLEN, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. ALLEN. Gentlemen, the little that I want to say this morning has nothing to do particularly with the bill itself. I want to say very frankly that I am not an authority on the bill. I have read it and know what its general import is. A measure of this type, of this magnitude, would necessarily have to be drafted provision by provision.
What I would like to address myself to this morning, just briefly, is the general import or the general objective of the measure. That is simply this. It gets down to just one thing and that is what I call justice for the disabled and the handicapped. We have in our country basically two groups, talking about this problem of the handicapped. You have one group of handicapped who are veterans, men who in battle have become disabled and are entitled to various forms of compensation from the Government. For instance, a battle amputee, a veteran amputee, is entitled to prostheses of various types. A man who has lost his hearing, who has had his hearing impaired, is entitled to certain devices. The veteran has a measure of support through facilities offered by the Government.
Then you have the great mass of the disabled and handicapped who have no claim on the Government, who have no succor from any source other than, largely, their own resources. There are local, State and to some extent Federal facilities, but this great mass of civilian amputees or civilian handicapped, or civilian disabled, get basically nothing. That is the group that would be profoundly affected by this proposed legislation and that is the group for whom I should like to put in an urgent plea this morning.
This is not a plea for charity. It is not a plea for sympathy. It is basically a plea for just simple, plain justice.
We have in this group, as distinguished from the veteran group, and that is basically a very small group; for instance, battle or veteran amputees number about 22,000, covering a 3-year period. During that time, in the good old USA, back here at home, they were making amputees at the rate of 20,000 a year or three times as many as were made during war years in combat.
Those amputees—and I speak about them because I know something about them as distinguished from the battle amputees—represent the difference between day and night. For the veteran there are prostheses, medical care, other facilities, rehabilitation, compensation. But the civilian has a very tough row to hoe.
If I may take a moment, I would just like to give an illustration. Last week a young woman came into my office. She works here in a Federal department. She is a stenographer or a secretary; a woman I would say somewhere around 35. She had an accident, one of those weird things; she fell down some steps and the upshot of it was that they took off her arm above the elbow.
Now, it is as tough as can be for a man, but here is a woman who was making her livelihood as a stenographer and suddenly she has one of her arms chopped off. Now, had she been a veteran, and lost her arm while a member of the armed services, she would have been nursed and cared for right from the moment that the accident happened. She would have had a prosthesis given her, rehabilitation, the best possible care, advice and counsel.
This little woman was very gallantly and very courageously battling her way up out of that horrible tragedy. No one was offering her a prosthesis; no one was telling her what to do or how to do it. That case stood out so strikingly and vividly to me; just the difference between that woman and what had happened to me, she with infinitely less resources on her side.
Now, that is what this bill is all about-right there, that one particular case, multiplied literally millions of times,
I have seen various estimates, running from 28,000,000 to 40,000,000 disabled of various types. Of course, they are not all amputees although it is a crushing fact that there are 800,000 people at leastand I have seen larger figures—but certainly there are at least 800,000 people in this country who have lost limbs. It happens every day. Hearing, sight, various other parts of the body, are lost. Those people do not stop living. They do not stop eating. They do not stop thinking. They do not stop desiring.
Go down to the Goodwill Industries here, one of the greatest institutions, in my mind, in the country. They get down to the lowest
common denominator in the social structure; whites and blacks, the crippled and the shattered, who have nothing, literally nothing. This institution gives them a chance to make a living, on a very meager scale, but still as independent and self-contained people. Go down there; it is a heart-rending but at the same time a very exhilarating, thrilling experience, to see the deaf and the blind and the halt doing things for themselves. Again, those are the people that this bill is all about.
These disabled, these handicapped—whatever you want to call them—the impaired, are a fabulous social resource, an economic resource, a human resource. They are not just discards.
Up until recent years anybody who lost a limb, if something like that happened to someone, it was a matter of a family skeleton. It was put off into a corner and hid. We have come to realize, for instance, that spastics are not imbeciles. Some of them are very brilliant men and women in our country making a great contribution to culture and science and education. But it was something that they used to hide. They used to put them off in institutions.
I know a few years ago you never walked around the streets with a thing such as I have hanging out of my sleeve. Now nobody pays any attention to it. People have become accustomed to it. People have become accustomed to the fact that physical impairment is neither a shame nor a crime. And that is what this legislation is all about.
I know that this is not something that can be done overnight. You cannot enact a bill or recommend a measure of this magnitude off the cuff. It is going to take a great deal of work, and hard work. As a member of the press who at times has been inclined to be somewhat, shall I say, critical of Members of Congress, at the same time, very frankly, I know what it means to be confronted with the problem of working out a measure of this kind that will be feasible and practical and attain the great, humane ends that this is designed to achieve.
Thank you very much.
Mr. KELLEY. Colonel, you have been in the forefront of the fight to do something for the physically handicapped. You have spoken and written and battled for recognition of the fact that those people who are handicapped physically, or otherwise impaired, do not want charity; but they want the aid, the help of all of us so that they can make their own living and their own way in life. You have been one of the foremost in the country to make that point, and I admire you very much for it.
Nr. Bailey, have you any questions?
Mr. PERKINS. I want to say that I am in accord with what the witness has stated; that is all.
Mr. Jacobs. You lost your arm in the service, did you not?
Mr. KELLEY. Do you have a statement you wish to submit in addition to the one you have already given?
Mr. ALLEN. Yes; I have a statement here.
Mr. KELLEY. It may be accepted for the record. Thank you very much.
Mr. ALLEN. Thank you, gentlemen, very kindly. I am very grateful
(The statement is as follows:)
STATEMENT OF ROBERT S. ALLEN, WASHINGTON, D. C. Mr. Chairman, I come before your committee to, frankly, seek justice for millions of Americans whose only crime is that they are physically handicapped. These Americans are in need, many of them in desperate want. I am not asking for charity or sympathy. My plea is for justice. A fair break for millions of our fellow citizens who are not getting it.
The committee is doubtless aware, Mr. Chairman, that my chief interest has been, and is, in disabled veterans. But to be a good citizen, the disabled veteran, or any veteran, must be just as much concerned that the welfare of other American citizens is not ignored. As a result of his service, the disabled veteran has a claim on the Government. In a multitude of ways that claim is being met. But the millions of other Americans who are handicapped and disabled have to struggle along. And when I say millions of other handicapped and disabled Americans, I mean exactly that-literally. The number of handicapped in our country has been estimated as high as 28,000,000. I have seen official figures that there are 7,000,000 totally and permanently disabled in the country. That is a shocking and astounding figure. It is approximately seven times the total number of our military casualties in the last war.
Every one of these 7,000,000 is a human being; a man, a woman, or a child. And you have to think of them as human beings; individuals who are grappling with tragic personal problems. They are the blind, the deaf, the crippled, the arthritic, the tubercular, the rheumatic, the spastics, the paraplegics, and scores of other ravaging and incurable diseases and ailments. They are a personal problem, a social problem and an economic problem. They are a problem that this great and enlightened and modern Nation of ours must meet. We must do it not only as a matter of common humanity and justice, but because it will pay us manifold to meet that problem.
This committee can do much in that effort. You have before you a bill to establish a Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped. The time doesn't permit to go into the details of that bill. While the bill breaks new ground, it does so only as an extension and implementation of the vocational rehabilitation Federal-State system already in existence. The sole purpose of the bill is to make that system more applicable to the millions of our needy handicapped and disabled citizens.
I urgently plead that this committee will give this great, enlightened and muchneeded measure its support and will recommend it for enactment by the House.
Mr. KELLEY. We should be pleased to receive a statement by our colleague, Congressman Lemke.
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM LEMKE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NORTH DAKOTA
Mr. LEMKE. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appear in favor of the enactment of H. R. 3588, or any identical or similar bill. This bill provides for the establishment of a Federal Commission on Service for the Physically Handicapped. I am sure the members of the committee agree
that some such legislation would be of great benefit to the handicapped throughout the Nation. It would equip hundreds and thousands of our handicapped people so they could perform useful work and thus add to their own enjoyment as well as prevent them from becoming a burden.
Our Nation, as well as the nations of the world, has been neglectful, and in many cases indifferent to the handicapped unfortunate. However, we are now beginning to realize that many of these handicapped people, through educational and vocational training, can become.useful and helpful.
I believe that there should be a reasonable annual appropriation for the rehabilitation of the handicapped of our Nation. I believe a certain amount of this should be earmarked for rural areas. This because there is a great difference between the thickly settled urban districts, and the sparsely settled country districts. A different approach is necessary in the thinly settled farm districts than that of city districts.
I shall be perfectly frank with this committee, and say that I have not had time to give the matter sufficient consideration so as to claim that my bill or identical bills are perfect. In fact, I know that perfection can never be reached, but under our form of government we can constantly attempt to approach it. It is up to this committee to decide on additional amendments or improvements of any bill submitted to it. I feel that this bill, as well as identical and similar bills, will give to the handicapped a new lease on life. It is not allinclusive, but it is a start-a toehold—in the right direction.
In my State, as well as in other States, we have educational and vocational training for the handicapped, but they depend largely upon charity, and in a matter of this importance I feel charity is not sufficient in all localities. May I also point out to you that the disability rate on farms—the farms that feed the Nation-is very high, and that our rehabilitation requirements in that regard are no less than in States where industry is predominant.
I favor placing this commission or service in the United States Department of Labor because that Department deals with labor and the laboring people are those who suffer injuries and become handicapped. This whether they work on the farms or in the factories. Then after they have received their educational and vocational training, the Labor Department is in a better position to place them than any other organization in our Government.
În conclusion, permit me to state that I believe the time is here for prompt action on one of these bills. It will mean not only a great deal to the physically handicapped, but also to every State and the Nation as a whole.
Mr. KELLEY. We are glad to have a statement by Hon. Leroy Johnson.
STATEMENT OF HON. LEROY JOHNSON, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
Mr. JOHNSON. Mr. Chairman, a group of Members of this Congress has introduced bills to establish a Federal Commission on Services for the Physically Handicapped, and I am one of those. I introduced H. R. 4348.
Undoubtedly your committee will have exhaustive hearings on the problem. My statement shall be very brief.
In addition to the economic rehabilitation those who are unfortunate enough to be physically handicapped for one reason or another, I wish to make this particular point:
The best citizen is that person who takes care of himself in every way. He supports his family. He supports himself and he is thoroughly independent of any help in order to take care of his personal