Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Veterans Due Process, Inc. (VDP), would like to thank you (and Mr. Paul Light with your staff) for the opportunity to submit written testimony concerning S.533: a bill to establish the Veterans' Administration (VA) as an Executive Department. We believe that the information contained herein, is vital to your full Committee consideration of the bill on April 14, 1988.
VDP, an Oregon based non-profit veterans rights corporation, is a grass roots group of veterans from World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, etc., from across America, who share a common belief that veterans should not be stripped of the fundamental "due process of law" legal protections guaranteed to every citizen by the United States Constitution, simply because we have patriotically and honorably served America, and defended her Constitution. We believe that we speak for every veteran in America, who is presently unaware that they, as veterans, do not have the basic American rights which they served to protect for every other citizen.
We also believe that we speak for the vast majority of the members of the major national veteran's organizations, who have not been told, and consequently do not understand, that they, as veterans, have been stripped of the fundamental American legal protections, which they served to protect for every other American. We also believe that we speak for the vast majority of veterans who do not belong to any veteran's organizations. Finally, and perhaps most important, we believe that we speak for America '5 FUTURE veterans, who, unconscionably, are not warned that if they are injured defending the United States Constitution and our "American System of Justice", that they will be stripped of its protections for the rest of their lives, concerning any such injuries.
VDP supports the concept of elevating the VA to Cabinet level, but we carefully emphasize that our primary reason for that support, is because we would hope that Cabinet status will result in a greater level of meaningful outside SCRUTINY, into a VA system (IRON TRIANGLE), which has proven itself to be seriously flawed, and consequently in extreme need to brought under control of law. We also believe that after your Committee has read this testimony, that judicial-review language will, with a certainty, become an indispensable and vital part of the VA Cabinet bill.
As you know, jurisdiction concerning the VA Cabinet status bill, rests with your Committee, in part, because of the designated function which indicates:
" . . . to which committee shall be referred all proposed legislation . . . relating to the following subjects . . . Organization and reorganization of the executive branch of the Government . . . "
During the month prior to your March 28, 1988, hearing concerning S. 533, a significant amount of attention and controversy was caused by the effort to add a judicial-review provision to the VA Cabinet level bill. As you know, a judicial-review provision to the elevation bill, would restore to America 1 5 battle-injured defenders, who were injured defending the United States Constitution and our "American System of Justice", the fundamental "due process of law" legal protections (concerning VA decisions), guaranteed by that Constitution, and given meaning by our system of justice. You are aware that under present VA law, a battle-injured veteran who believes that he has been wrongfully and/or illegally denied necessary VA medical care treating war injuries, or reasonable VA disability compensation concerning those battle-injuries, is denied the right to appeal such a VA decision to a fair and IMPARTIAL court of law (see 38 USC 211a), and is effectively denied the freedom to spend his own money to hire an attorney to protect his legal rights (see 38 USC 3404, 3405).
In an article which appeared in the Washington Post on March 29, 1988, Senator Glenn was quoted as saying:
"I would think that the veteran's organizations would be in here, clamoring for judicial review."
Senator Glenn is absolutely correct, and therein raised a question which we believe you will agree, demands an answer! Why isn't the LEADERSHIP of the major national Congressionally chartered veterans' organizations, such as the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Amvets, etc., " clamoring " for judicial-review, like VDP and the leadership of the Vietnam Veterans of America (WA)? The answer to that question not only holds the key to the restoration of fundamental guaranteed "due process of law" legal protections, to Americans injured defending the Constitution, but will also ultimately bring the VA under the control of law.
The above referenced Washington Post article also indicated that "Senator Glenn and others on the committee appeared poised to insist that it (judicial-review) be added to the measure", but that after "what some staff members described as a week of unprecedented lobbying by veterans in the states of committee members", that Senator Glenn announced that he would not press the issue, and said:
" I don't plan to clutter things up in this committee . . . Judicial review is in the jurisdiction of another committee and the two issues should be considered separately."
VDP strongly believes that jurisdiction concerning VA elevation to Cabinet level, especially with a judicial-review provision made a part of that bill, is, jurisdictionally speaking, given the nature of the VA "Iron Triangle" system, precisely within other specified areas of your committee's mandated function, which appear, in part, as follows:
". . . to which committee shall be referred . . . matters relating to the following subjects: Intergovernmental relations . . . [and] such committee shall have the duty of . . . studying the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies and departments of the Government . . . '"
VDP believes that this testimony will cause you to not only include Judicial-Review Language into the VA Cabinet Status bill, but that it will also cause your Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, to initiate a full scale, in depth Congressional investigation, into the entire existing system of veterans justice, known as "THE IRON TRIANGLE." That "system" has caused countless thousands of unsuspecting patriotic young Americans (later injured on foreign battlefields), who are guilty only of honorable and patriotic service to our great country, to be stripped, without warning , of the very rights, freedoms and basic legal protections, which they fought to protect for every other American. Attached, is a copy of an article which appeared in the Congressional Quarterly Weekly Report dated June 14, 1980 (pages 1627-1634), which concerns the "Iron Triangle." Also attached, is an article which appeared in The Detroit News on November 11, 1987, entitled "The Veterans Fraternity", which provides various interesting insights into the VA "system" herein discussed.
Senator Glenn knows that the leadership of the major national veterans' organizations should be the watchdogs of the rights of their rank and file members, but the incredible fact of the matter is that since 1933, America's battle-injured veterans have had fewer legal rights than any other segment of the American population! How can that be possible? "Why have the watchdogs of veterans rights, failed to ensure that battle-injured veterans, who want to have meaningful access to the American system of justice, which they were injured defending, enjoy that right?
VDP believes that the answer to that question appeared in a Wall Street Journal article dated July 14, 1986, concerning the VA judicial-review bill then pending before the House Veterans Affairs Committee. That article indicated, in part:
“. . . he [Congressman Don Edwards] even thinks his friend, Sonny Montgomery, stacked recent hearings on the bill, in favor of opponents. Further, he charges the VA virtually " BLACKMAILED " major veterans' organizations into opposing the measure. A letter from a VA official warned these organizations they could lose their free space and telephone lines at VA regional offices (authorized by 38 USC 3402) if this proposal became law."
VDP believes that the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, in the name of justice and equity for the battle-injured defenders of our great country, as well as all future unsuspecting veterans, must, as precisely mandated by your specified duty to "study the efficiency, economy, and effectiveness of all agencies . . . of the government", investigate the VA's use of " blackmail " tactics, to control the majority of the leadership of the major national veterans organizations, which permits the VA to wrongfully and/or illegally violate the "rights" of helpless veterans by utilizing "Quota Systems", etc., in the interests of the budgetary/economy concerns of the Office of Management and Budget (0MB).
When the United States Congress closed the courts of America, to battle-injured veterans, by passage of "ECONOMY ACT" (H.R. 2820: "An Act to maintain the credit of the United States Government" -- section 5), which became law on March 20, 1933, President Roosevelt had already declared a Presidential proclamation of National Economic Emergency , and told the Congress in his inaugural address:
"But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis -- broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency , as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe." (See Congressional Record (CR herein) Senate, March 4, 1933, page 6)
Many members of Congress were aware of the awesome significance of what President Roosevelt was attempting to do. For example, on March 11, 1933, Representative Tarver said:
"The first section of article I of the Constitution provides:
All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
In this bill it is proposed to give the president of the United States legislative power, in the face of the Constitution. It is an abdication by Congress of its constitutional rights, DUTIES , and powers. Rather than vote for such a bill, a Member should surrender his seat and go home" (see CR, page 218, March 11, 1933).
On March 16, 1933, Congressman James Willis Taylor, of Tennessee, expressed disapproval of the "GAG RULE," particularly when it was invoked to pass legislation of such far-reaching importance and consequences as the National Economy Act:
"I am opposed to this legislation for three major reasons: First, I am against it because IT VIOLATES THE VERY FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES UPON WHICH OUR GOVERNMENT IS FOUNDED, in that it provides for an INVASION of the functions and prerogatives of both the LEGISLATIVE AND JUDICIAL departments of the Government by the Executive. * * * Second, I am opposed to this bill because IT SETS UP A DICTATORSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES, the like of which has seldom been attempted in the history of the world. The AUTOCRATIC NATURE of this bill attains its climax in section 5, which is 5 follows:
NOW 38 USC 211
"All decisions rendered by the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs under the provisions of this title, or the regulations issued pursuant thereto, shall be final and conclusive on all questions of law and fact, and NO OTHER OFFICIAL or COURT OF THE UNITED STATES shall have jurisdiction to review by mandamus or otherwise any such decision."
And third, I am against this measure because it is UNFAIR, UNJUST, AND CRUEL to our ex-servicemen and their dependents, and SUBVERTS AND UPROOTS THE POLICY OF TREATMENT accorded our soldiers and their dependents which has DISTINGUISHED OUR NATION FOR GRATITUDE and liberality to those who RALLIED TO THE COLORS IN TIMES OF STRESS AND STORM .
Mr. Speaker, I yield to no one in my zeal for economy in Government and my desire to see our national budget balanced; but I most respectfully decline to be a party to restoring our financial equilibrium at the expense of our crippled and diseased ex-servicemen, along with their widows and orphans. "IF THIS BE TREASON" TO THE ADMINISTRATION, MR. SPEAKER, "MAKE THE MOST OF IT." (see CR, March 16, 1933, p. 564)
The MENTALITY and "emergency"/panic atmosphere which caused its passage, can perhaps best be found in the words of Representative Woodrum, on March 16, 1933, prior to passage:
"Of course, Mr. Speaker, all of us are assuming that the President and his administrative assistants are going to exercise this great power cautiously and wisely to the end that so far as may be humanly possible justice may be done between the veteran and the TAXPAYER, WHO, AFTER ALL, HAS TO PAY THE BILL. " (see CR, March 1b½i93-3, page 5-4~9~)
Who pays the bill for whom ? State departments of some national veterans organizations who knew the answer to that question, expressed deep concern to Congress, prior to passage of the "Economy Act", attempting to avoid the second class citizenship which would certainly result, if the courts of America were closed to her battle-injured veterans. For example, on March 11, 1933, the Veterans of Foreign Wars sent a telegram to Congress, signed by Kenneth A. Bixler, adjutant, and W.R. Ambrose, commander, which said:
"At joint meeting delegates of all posts, Veterans of Foreign Wars of Minnesota, held Minneapolis tonight, voted unanimously oppose granting DICTATORIAL powers to president , and are absolutely oppossed cutting veterans' benefits; emphatically demanding our Government remain a people's government; that its defenders be not betrayed." (see CR, March 11, 1933, page 209)
It is clear that the leadership of some o~ the national veterans organizations were aware of the terrible ~ ~ng which was in the making, and tried to avert it, to no avail.
Regardless of many protests, Congress did abdicate its legislative power to the President, by passage of the Economy Act. Incredibly, the bill which had been introduced in Congress on March 10, 1933, took only a few days to pass, as did much other EMERGENCY " NEW DEAL " legislation such as the N.R.A. (National Recovery Act).
The record indicates that President Roosevelt appears to have allowed VA bureaucrats to determine to exactly what extent, the "Economy Act" would cut the VA budget. The draconian nature of VA plans, were mentioned by Representative Lundeen, on June 15, 1933, as follows:
"Here are the figures which the Veterans' Administration thought best to keep secret . These figures were published by Congressman Crosser, of Ohio, on May 29, 1933, in the Congressional Record. (see CR, June 15, 1933, page 6175)
Those figures indicated that the VA (the advocate of the veteran), had decided to reduce the dollars expended on service-connected disabled veterans of W I, by more than 7O%. The VA also planned to reduce the dollars expended on VA hospital services, by 80%. It was, at that point in time, absolutely clear whose side the VA was on. That executive branch creature of budget/economy, showed its true colors.
The news rapidly spread throughout Congress, about what VA bureaucrats, armed with awesome "Economy Act" powers, intended to do to the nation's injured defenders. Many Members of Congress, finally understanding the true nature of deception which had been perpetrated on them, protested. For example, on June 1, 1933, Senator Robinson of Indiana said:
"In order to do this terrific injustice to the defenders of the Nation, the President of the United States sent that infamous measure here to us labelled "A bill to maintain the credit of the United States. It was of course mi srepresentation of the worst hue. It was trickery and nothing less than that. because it had a sound with its Weazle words that m4Aht sqmehow or other be attractive to the American people. Everybody knows now that it was deceit, pure and simple ." (see CR, June 1, 1933, page 4 46)
On June 2, 1933, Senator Bronson Cutting of New Mexico indicated:
"I am one of the people who do not believe that there was a single fair line in the so-called "Economy Act." I believe it was the most infamous act ever passed by the Congress of the United States. I believe it ought to be repealed from top to bottom." (see CR, June 2, 1933, page 4815)
On June 2, 1933, Senator Huey Long said:
"How long are we going to sit here and see people turned out of hospitals and starved to death by these little 2-by-4, squinteyed experts, fumbling around under their desks and issuing pronunciamentos, and exercising more authority than the 96 Members of the United States Senate? It is one of the most disgraceful things that have ever occurred in the hist6ry of 6ur country . . . Instead of being men, standing up on 2 legs and 2 feet, and running this Government for the people of the United States, we are authorizing some little 2-by-4, two-bit job-hunting politician to prescribe limits and rules under which he will work, and then he goes off and does what he pleases . That is the trouble with the whole "plague-take-it" outfit, and that is the reason why the veterans are in the fix in which they find themselves today. " (see: CR, June 2, 1933, page 4811)
On June 1, 1933, Senator Robinson of Indiana said:
" . . . the President of the United States never can escape responsibility for the injustices that have (and will) come about as a result of the so-called "Economy Act." (see CR, June 1, 1933, page 4747)
Concerning such "injustices", VDP is aware of recent suicide deaths, which VDP believes were directly caused by the present VA "system of justice." Please advise if the Committee would be interested in such information. It is interesting to note that such suicides were predicted in "Economy Act" oriented books written during that period:
"There are in the country today thousands of obscure men to whom such words would come as suggestion -- as a call to self-immolation on the altar of human rights -- thousands of border-land minds. The police and the doctors know some of them 1 but not all. If the word ever learns their faces, it will be in one instant, in the light of a revolver's flash. But will the guilt be theirs?" (see Soldiers What Next! , by Katherine Mayo, 1934)
VDP believes that history will record that Senator Cutting was correct during 1933, and that the "Economy Act" will ultimately be recognized as the most infamous act ever passed by the Congress of the United States. We also believe that the resultant VA (Executive Branch of Government) abuse perpetrated on countless thousands of trusting and unsuspecting battle-injured veterans, and caused by the fact that the "Economy Act" has not been repealed, will also ultimately be recognized as being the greatest "national scandal" in the history of America.
It is interesting to note that during 1935, that the earlier mentioned "N.R.A." (National Recovery Act), which was based on the same "emergency" as was the "Economy Act", was the subject of a Supreme Court case, wherein the Court held that:
" . . . extraordinary conditions do not create or enlarge constitutional power" and "it is enough to say that the recuperative efforts of the federal government must be made in a manner consistent with the authority granted by the Constitution." (see Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935)
Such New Deal emergency legislation, was thus held invalid, in part, on the ground that it delegated unlimited legislative power to the president . Unfortunately, America's battle-injured defenders continue to be denied all meaningful access to the American system of justice which they were injured defending, based on the same "emergency."
It is also interesting to note that during 1934, the Supreme Court had perceived the rights of America's battle-injured defenders, in a different light, and accordingly determined that it was the INTENT of the United States Congress, that VA medical care treating war injuries, VA disability compensation concerning war injuries, and all other veterans' non-contractual "benefits", have the legal significance of nothing more than GRATUITIES ( GIFTS) . That 53 year old Supreme Court case which held that veterans benefits are nothing more than gifts , provided, in pertinent part that:
"Pensions, COMPENSATION ALLOWANCES, HOSPITAL, and other privileges . . . are GRATUITIES. They involve no agreement of parties; and the grant of them creates no vested right . The benefits conferred by gratuities may be redistributed or withdrawn at any time in the discretion of Congress." (See Lynch V. United States , 292 U.S. 571, 577 (1934)
" GRATUITIES " ! The dictionary definition of a gratuity is: "Something given voluntarily or beyond obligation --- given unearned." Could it really be true, that VA medical care, and service connected disability compensation which arise from severe injuries suffered by our nations defenders on foreign battlefields, are "unearned" or "beyond obligation" of the United States Government? UNEARNED?? BEYOND OBLIGATION? ? Does the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee agree that such is the intent of Congress?
Ever since 1933, the VA has been totally under the control of an "economy/budgetary" mentality. Today, the Office of Management and Budget (0MB), essentially dictates policy to the VA. VDP believes that the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs, aware of the serious abuses of veterans perpetrated by the VA, as evidenced by this testimony, and also during the February 18, 1988, hearing conducted by Rep. Ted Weiss, which concerned the VA'S disability compensation programs, should insist on judicial-review provisions as a part of any bill to elevate the VA to full Cabinet Status. VDP also believes that the present VA " QUOTA SYSTEM " should be another vital consideration to your committee. We believe that such a quota system, by itself, DEMANDS that veterans have access to a fair and impartial court of law.
During recent years, there have been many people who knew that the VA system of justice was broken, and who have attempted to focus attention on the realities of certain requirements of that system. For example, many Federal VA employees know what is being done to America's veterans, and are opposed to the present system, as indicated by the testimony (copy attached) of Kenneth T. Blaylock, President of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), before the House Veterans Affairs Committee on November 9, 1980. Mr. Blaylock represents 116,000 VA employees , and said:
"Under current law, veterans have been relegated to the status of second class citizen, who are denied the same right of judicial review available to most other beneficiaries of federal entitlement programs."
He contended that:
"Veterans making an appeal to the Board of Veterans Appeals (BVA) are under a serious disadvantage. Whereas appeals to the Social Security Administration are decided in favor of the claimant in two out of three cases, actual results support or favor the veterans claims in the Board of Veterans Appeals in only one out of ten cases."
Moreover, Mr. Blaylock indicated:
"that it appears to us as though large numbers of veterans have not received the benefit of reasonable doubt on any consistent basis."
He concluded his remarks by saying that his membership have expressed considerable dissatisfaction with a policy which denied veterans the right to judicial review primarily because of a lack of an effective institutional check on arbitrary and impermissable action. VDP believes that Mr. Blaylock's words are as true today, as they were then. We therefore recommend that the Committee question him.
Another view into what is actually happening inside the VA system of "justice", was achieved a few years ago, and the attached testimony of Norman J. Johnson was taken from the Hearings record before the Committee on Veterans' Affairs of the United States Senate, Ninety-fifty Congress, concerning Senate Bill 364. Mr. Johnson, a former "staff legal advisor" to the Board of Veterans Appeals, could no longer tolerate what the VA system required of him. That testimony, in part, appears as follows:
"I want to leave you with one final example of BVA attitudes: I once drafted and dictated an appeals decision granting service connection status for a black, Korean action veteran. The elements of the case were clear . . . the facts and the law were clear, but the decision was returned to me with instructions to deny the claim. I found it difficult to evade the letter of the law and I considered it dishonest to arbitrarily deny the facts in order to reach the decision my supervisor desired . . . "
In the recent National Association of Radiation Survivors (NARS) suit against the Veterans Administration, a December 7, 1986, New York Times newspaper article concerning VA destruction of documents which were the subject of discovery in that court action, indicated, in part:
"Several (VA employees) asserted that when they told their supervisors that destruction of the documents might be illegal, they were told to mind their own business, ordered not to put anything in writing, and threatened with retaliation if they disobeyed. Ronald B. Abrahams, a department (VA) lawyer, testified that as recently as last month he discovered that his superiors were concealing documents sought under court order in the lawsuit. He asserted that when he protested, his supervisor told him "to get out of his office" and look for another job. Mr. Abrams, much of whose testimony was corrobrated by three other agency officials, contended that among other things, the destroyed documents would have shown that adjudicators in some Veterans Administration field offices had routinely denied benefits lawfully due veterans "BECAUSE IT WAS TO THEIR FINANCIAL ADVANTAGE TO DENY CLAIMS. "
The attached copy of a confidential VA internal "Memorandum" dated September 25, 1986, from Mr. Ronald B. Abrams, concerned the NARS case, and, in part, makes reference to: ". . . GROSS VIOLATION OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF CLAIMANTS. " Clearly, the Federal VA is out of control, and intoxicated with its own power. It is therefore vital that veterans have the best representation possible, in order to deal with a system such as that detailed in this testimony. The NARS case also resulted in the attached Sacramento Bee Editorial dated January 2, 1987, entitled: THE VA'S CHEAT-A-VETERAN BONUS, which takes issue with the procedures and attitudes of the VA, which surfaced during the NARS case.
During 1932, thousands of veterans from across America, went to Washington, D.C., in order to present their grievances to their government, concerning WW I bonus checks. The July 29, 1932, New York Times newspaper, indicates that president Hoover ordered General MacArthur to drive the veterans from the Capitol. Photographs in that newspaper show tanks proceeding down Pennsylvania Avenue, with cavalry, federal soldiers with bayonets, machine guns, and tear gas, driving the veterans out. Veterans-such as William Hashka of Chicago and Eric Carlson of California, were shot to death.
During 1933, the veterans came back, and the June 15, 1933 Congressional Record, page 6181, indicates:
"It is time that we make this country safe for the defenders of the flag. In recent years it has not even been safe for veterans to come to Washington and petition those in power for justice . . . The veterans who came to Washington in May of this year to present their grievances to the Government paused at the graves of Hushka and Carlson, their comrades who were killed in the battle between veterans and the District police when the veterans were driven from their camp at Anacostia with fire and gas . . . The veterans who assembled in Washington in 1933 did more than clamor for bonus checks. These men feel that this Government has no right to place upon them the burden of maintaining the credit of the United States Government . . . The veterans of America are making their final plea to this administration and to the Members of this Congress. If that plea is not heard, these veterans will not sit back and wait for the liberalization of the Executive regulations. They have fought before, and they will fight again -- not to make the world safe for democracy this time, but to make America safe for the veterans . . . (the veterans demanded) Repeal of the Economy Act."
Unlike President Hoover during the 1932 veterans march, President Roosevelt did not send the army in to drive the veterans from Washington during the similiar 1933 veterans march. There were no veterans killed during the 1933 march. Instead, President Roosevelt, understanding the awesome significance of the veterans grievances, caused, in part, by passage of the "Economy Act" which had stripped those veterans of their access to the "American System of Justice" and protections of the United States Constitution (which many of them had been injured defending), decided to cause tent camps to be constructed for the veterans, and to provide food, etc., to them. Any violence would have focused attention on the fact that America's battle-injured veterans, had been relegated to second class citizens.
VDP believes that the Executive Branch of Government determined at that point in time, that there would be no more massive veterans marches on Washington, D.C., but how could such marches be avoided, with veterans having been stripped of the basic legal rights which they went off to war to protect for every other citizen?
On June 22, 1944, the United States Congress passed the "Servicemen '5 Readjustment Act of 1944" to provide Federal Government aid for the readjustment in civilian life of returning World War II veterans (see 58 Stat. 284). On July 6, 1945, approximately 2 months after victory in Europe (VE Day - May 7, 1945) , Congress amended that law in order to grant certain priorities to the VA, which, in part, included:
"Sec. 100. The Veterans' Administration is hereby declared to be an ESSENTIAL WAR AGENCY and entitled to priority equal to the highest granted any department or agency of the Government in personnel, service, SPACE During the continuance of the present war and FOR SIX MONTHS AFTER ITS TERMINATION, the Administrator is authorized, for the purpose of extending benefits to veterans and dependents, and to the extent he deems necessary, TO PROCURE THE NECESSARY SPACE for administrative . . . " (see 59 Stat. 463)
On December 28, 1945, approximately 4 months after the end of the war with Japan (VJ Day - Sept 2, 1945), Congress amended the above cited law (see 59 Stat. 623) by, in part, deleting the words "During the continuance of the present war and for six months after its termination," and amended Section 200 by ADDING the following new subsection:
"(c) The Administrator is further authorized at his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe to furnish, if available, NECESSARY space and suitable office facilities for the use of paid fulltime representatives of such organizations (American Legion, Disabled American Veterans of the World War, Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc). (see current 38 USC 3402)
It appears to have been a noble and praiseworthy gesture of patriotism and a desire to help the millions of World War II veterans returning from the war, which prompted the National Veterans Organizations to help the federal government, during the difficult period after the war. But what happened after all of the veterans were home, and the crisis of medical problems, education problems, etc., were resolved? The veterans organizations, by that time, had VA paid office space, VA paid telephone service, etc., in the federal buildings across the United States, but the law, as it existed at that time, contemplated the NECESSITY which justified the free office space to veterans organizations, as being the emergency created by the end of World War II, and clearly provided that the VA paid space must be "NECESSARY!"
Regardless of the fact that the law provided that the VA paid office space, etc., to the veterans organizations, must be "NECESSARY," the situation continued after the emergency had passed. On June 17, 1957, Congress passed the "Veterans Benefits Act of 1957" (see 71 Stat. 83), "To consolidate into one Act, and to simplify and make more uniform, the laws administered by the VA relating to compensation, pension, hospitalization, and burial benefits, and to consolidate into one Act the laws pertaining to the administration of the laws administered by the Veterans' Administration." This Act, as it appears in "THE STATUTES AT LARGE" is 93 pages long, but of interest is the fact that the word " NECESSARY " was deleted from the language of the law as it had previously existed (what is now 38 USC 3402), thus the VA paid office space for the national veterans previously existed (what is now 38 USC 3402), thus the VA paid office space for the national veterans organizations, State of Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs, etc., no longer had to be "NECESSARY." Apparently nobody noticed, or thought important, the removal of that one word from the 93 page long Act. The "IRON TRIANGLE" was created at approximately that point in time, and the disappearance of the word "necessary" was, like the Bradley Commission Report, part of the reason why the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was able to force the birth of the Iron Triangle.
The veterans organizations were seemingly secure in their function of representing veterans in their claims against the VA, even though the VA budget was, and is, paying millions of dollars nationally, to provide free office space, telephone service, etc., to those same organizations. The fact that the Federal VA has its own Veterans Services Division, which provides free representation to Veterans concerning their VA claims, apparently made no difference to lawmakers who understood what was going on.
VDP considers the relationship between the VA and the veterans organizations, to be a CONFLICT OF INTEREST on the face of it. Veterans who seek representation from the veterans organizations, assume that those veterans organizations exist on an adversary basis concerning the VA, and that such organizations will fight to protect their legal rights. Service officers are not required to apprise the veterans whom they represent, of a potential conflict of interest, created by the fact that the VA is paying for their offices in the Federal Buildings, telephone bills, provides the office furniture, etc.
Perhaps the most serious question which should be asked of service officers of the national veterans organizations, is what they do when they perceive that a Federal VA decision in a veterans case, violates VA laws and/or ignores the facts of the case. Do they bring such violations to the attention of the United States Congress or the media? Unlikely.' Why not? Because the system of which they are a part, is, in our opinion, a "DON'T MAKE WAVES" system. VDP believes that service officers should, at a minimum, be required to tell the veterans who come to them seeking representation in their VA calims AGAINST the VA, that the VA is paying many of that service organizations bills.
As you can see, veterans who believe that the VA has wrongfully or illegally denied them what they are entitled to by VA statute law, are not allowed to hire a lawyer to protect their legal rights. They are denied access to every fair and IMPARTIAL court of law in America. Their VA medical care and disability compensation are legally nothing more than gifts which do not rise to the level of a constitutionally protectable property right interest, and, finally, the only other major avenue of protection left to them, in the form of the veterans service organizations, are, in large part, financially subsidized by the very agency which they are representing the veterans against.
VA blackmail of the leadership of many of the major national veterans organizations, has not only caused those organizations to permit this nation's defenders to be stripped of the very rights which they fight to protect for every other citizen, but that same blackmail also results in a mechanism whereby there will be no massive marches on Washington, D.C., by veterans demanding the restoration of their rights. The "rank and file members" of the majority of the Congressionally chartered veterans organizations, assume that they have the legal protections of the Constitution. If the leadership of their organizations ever caused them to understand the truth, that they have fewer legal rights than any other segment of the population, those veterans would undoubtedly again, travel to Washington, D.C., and petition the government for redress of their genuine grievances.
VDP believes that in light of the information provided herein, that the Committee will agree, with the necessity for judicial-review language to be made a part of the VA Cabinet level status bill. Please know that herein is presented only a small fraction of the information, which VDP has concerning VA abuse and lawlessness. On a personal note, I patriotically and honorably served America as a member of a Marine Corps Infantry Battalion in Vietnam, and was injured while there. The last three generations of my family graduated from the Naval Academy, and served America. We all performed our obligation of service to America, but America also has an obligation to those who are injured while fighting our wars. Please advise if you would need additional information.