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"§ 1571. Establishment of Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates
"The Secretary of Labor shall act on any application for an Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificate received under this chapter from any person who was discharged or dismissed under conditions other than honorable at least three years before the date of receipt of such application.
"§ 1572. Consideration and issuance of certificate
"In the case of any person discharged or dismissed from an armed force under conditions other than honorable before or after the enactment of this chapter, the Secretary of Labor may consider an application for, and issue to that person, an 'Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificate' dated as of the date of issuance, if it is established to his satisfaction that such person has rehabilitated himself, that his character is good, and that his conduct, activities, and habits since he was so discharged or dismissed have been exemplary for a reasonable period of time, but not less than three years. The Secretary of Labor shall supply a copy of each such Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificate which is issued, to the Secretary of Defense, who shall place such copy in the military personnel record of the individual to whom the certificate is issued.
"§ 1573. Matters considered
"(a) For the purposes of section 1572, oral and written evidence, or both, may be used, including
"(1) a notarized statement from the chief law enforcement officer of the town, city, or county in which the applicant resides, attesting to his general reputation so far as police and court records are concerned;
"(2) a notarized statement from his employer, if employed, giving the employer's address, and attesting to the applicant's general reputation and employment record;
(3) notarized statements from not less than five persons, attesting that they have personally known him for at least three years as a person of good reputation and exemplary conduct, and the extent of personal contact they have had with him; and
"(4) such independent investigation as the Secretary of Labor may make. "(b) Any person making application under this chapter may appear in person or by counsel before the Secretary of Labor.
"§ 1574. Other benefits
"No benefits under any laws of the United States (including but not limited to those relating to pensions, compensation, hospitalization, military pay and allowances, education, loan guarantees, retired pay, or other benefits based on military service) shall accrue to any person to whom an Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificate is issued under section 1572 unless he would be entitled to those benefits under his original discharge or dismissal.
"§ 1575. Job counseling and employment placement
"The Secretary of Labor shall require that the national system of public employment offices established under the Act of June 6, 1933 (48 Stat. 113), accord to any person who has been discharged or dismissed under conditions other than honorable but who has been issued an Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificate under this chapter special counseling and job development assistance.
"§ 1576. Reports
"The Secretary of Labor shall report to Congress not later than January 15 of each year the number of cases reviewed by him under this chapter, and the number of Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates issued.
"§ 1577. Administration
"In carrying out the provisions of this Act the Secretary of Labor is authorized to (a) issue regulations; (b) delegate his authority; (c) utilize the services of the Civil Service Commission for making such investigations as may be mutually agreeable."
SEC. 2. The analysis of part II of subtitle A of title 10, United States Code, is amended by inserting immediately below
"79. Correction of military records......
"80. Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates..
Passed the House of Representatives August 15, 1966.
RALPH R. ROBERTS,
Chairman RUSSELL. I am sure that all of you who have been on this committee for any length of time will recall that in previous Congresses we have had somewhat similar legislation sponsored by the late Congressman Doyle, of California. The pending bill is different from the earlier ones in that the Department of Labor, instead of the Department of Defense, would grant the certificates. The bill contains an express provision that no benefits would accrue to a person to whom an exemplary rehabilitation certificate is issued unless the person was entitled to those benefits under his original discharge or dismissal. The Secretary of Labor, under the bill, could also provide special job counseling and employment placement assistance to persons to whom certificates are issued.
We have been informed as to the special interests of a number of members of the other body in this bill, particularly Congressmen Bennett, of Florida, and McVicker, of Colorado, and Congressman McVicker has sent over a statement to be inserted in the record. (See page 23.)
We also have a statement from the Reserve Officers Association in support of the bill (see page 24), and a statement from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which will appear in the record. (See page 24.)
The witness on this bill is Mr. Marshall Miller, Assistant Director for Veterans Employment, Department of Labor. We also have present from the Department of Defense, the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Lt. Col. William A. Temple.
Mr. Miller, I assume you are going to present the statement on this bill. You may proceed.
STATEMENT OF MARSHALL C. MILLER, ASSISTANT CHIEF, VETERANS EMPLOYMENT SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR; ACCOMPANIED BY PAUL A. TERREY, ATTORNEY, DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, AND COL. WILLIAM A. TEMPLE, OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL POLICY, DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I appreciate the opportunity to testify before you on H.R. 16646 authorizing the award of exemplary rehabilitation certificates to certain persons who have been discharged or dismissed from the armed services under conditions which were less than honorable.
The bill is drafted to deal with a comparatively small, but nevertheless difficult manpower problem. There are over 500,000 people in this country who have less than an honorable discharge from the Armed Forces. Figures from the Department of Defense show that 215,255 discharges were awarded under other than honorable conditions from 1957 to 1965. This is about 3.2 percent of all military discharges awarded during this span of 9 years.
It is a hard fact that many of these men have difficulty in obtaining employment or anything more than menial employment. This results
from the stigma or "black eye" which the less than honorable discharge represents. Many of the men with these discharges have employment difficulties which far exceed those which result from the commission of identical offenses by civilians. Too often, a prospective employee will lack the time, patience, or interest to do more than superficially inquire about the nature of the discharge, whether it be a dishonorable discharge, an undesirable discharge, or a bad conduct discharge. No ameliorating factors such as conduct in civilian life since the discharge are considered.
H.R. 16646 tackles the problem by permitting the Secretary of Labor to issue exemplary rehabilitation certificates. The holder of a certificate is entitled to special counseling and job development assistance in the numerous public employment offices established under the Wagner-Peyser Act. A copy of the certificate is sent to the Secretary of Defense for placement in the holder's military personnel record. Perhaps most importantly, however, is the fact that the holder of a certificate has tangible and objective evidence as to his rehabilitation for presentation to a prospective employer. This should be of some help in breaking existing prejudices to which I have already alluded.
The value of the certificates will depend in large part upon how carefully they are issued. They would not be given lightly. The bill contemplates the following:
1. At least 3 years must elapse between the military discharge and the date the young man applies to the Secretary of Labor for a certificate.
2. The Secretary must consider relevant evidence which would establish to his satisfaction that the person has: (a) rehabilitated himself, (b) that his character is good, and (c) that his conduct, activities, and habits since he was discharged have been exemplary. This evidence would be written or oral, and could include such documentary evidence as (1) a notarized statement from the chief law enforcement officer of the community where the applicant resides attesting to this general reputation so far as police and court records are concerned; (2) a notarized statement from his employer, if any; (3) notarized statement from not less than five persons attesting that they have personally known him for at least 3 years as a person of good reputation and exemplary conduct, and the extent of their personal contact with him; and (4) any evidence which the Secretary might obtain under discretionary authority to make an independent investigation of the application. The Secretary of Labor's investigation would use the services of the Civil Service Commission under mutually agreeable arrangements.
Any increased costs occasioned by the bill may be considered negligible. Although the problem involved is serious, it is not large.
The bill does not in any way alter existing law regarding veterans' benefits for pensions, compensation, hospitalization, et cetera. This should be emphasized.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to depart from my prepared statement for a minute if I may. I do not feel that we should confuse the image of a veteran with certain preferences afforded by law with the image of the veteran with less than an honorable discharge seeking proof of his rehabilitation and trying to solve his serious employment problem.
As indicated earlier, I am here as a representative of the Department of Labor, and am expressing its views on a bill designed to remedy a manpower problem in a practical way. I am not here as a moralist. Yet, in closing I am reminded of the Biblical observation that man is lower than the angels. He makes mistakes, particularly when he is young and has been impeded by a background of poverty or deprivation. That he be permitted to correct his mistakes and contribute fully to society is one of the tenets of our culture and our Nation.
Time has not permitted us to obtain the view of the Bureau of the Budget on this statement. That is my statement, Mr. Chairman. Chairman RUSSELL. Lt. Col. William A. Temple is here, and his statement is one page in length, and before each Senator asks questions, his statement indicates that the Department of Defense recognizes this problem and has no objection to this bill. I will have that statement printed in the record.
(The statement referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF LIEUTENANT COLONEL WILLIAM A. TEMPLE, OFFICE OF THE DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL POLICY
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am Lieutenant Colonel William A. Temple, Executive for Disciplinary and Separation Matters in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Personnel Policy. The Department of Defense is fully aware of the seriousness of the problem created in civilian life for an individual who has received an other than honorable discharge. We recognize, also, that in many instances an individual with the desire to do so can overcome the effects of a period of misconduct and take a useful place in society.
The Department has, therefore, no objection to the award of an exemplary rehabilitation certificate attesting to a period of demonstrated rehabilitation in his civilian community following separation from the military service. We would likewise have no objection to incorporating a copy of each certificate in the individual's permanent personnel file within the appropriate Military Department. The Department of Defense believes that the bill before you properly places the function of issuing such certificates in a civilian agency and understands that the Department of Labor stands ready to assume it. We defer, of course, to the views of that Department on the substance of H.R. 16646 as it relates to the performance of that function.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. This concludes my statement.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Saltonstall.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Mr. Chairman, the only question that I have is it seems to me that this bill may go awfully far in requiring the man in question to get certain certificates, notarized statements, before he can qualify before the Secretary of Labor-five statements from people, notarized, from his employer, and from the chief law officer of enforcement in the city or town.
In a big city, such as St. Louis, Portland, Maine, Atlanta, Ga., or Boston, it is pretty hard for the chief law enforcement officer to be able to give a certificate, we will say, to me, if I am a citizen of the city of Boston, with its some 700,000 people there. Shouldn't you qualify that in some way?
Mr. MILLER. Senator Saltonstall, I think inherent in the provisions is an elasticity. In other words, this is discretionary in terms of a number of statements or the number of people, or even who is to supply the evidence. Certainly we would expect that the local employment office and the people handling this would proceed on the basis of the situation as it appeared.
Senator SALTONSTALL. May I ask one more question. In administering this act, you want to use the services of the Civil Service Commission. Do they approve of the act?
Mr. MILLER. I am informed that we understand they have no objections.
Senator SALTONSTALL. No objections.
Mr. MILLER. That is right.
Senator SALTONSTALL. They have been consulted.
Mr. MILLER. Yes, sir. They were consulted when the House considered the bill.
Senator SALTONSTALL. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Senator SYMINGTON. I would ask one question. You say you have had over 500,000 less than honorable discharges. Then you put them in categories, "dishonorable discharge, undesirable discharge, bad conduct discharge." Have you the figures as to what number of the 500,000 come into each of those categories?
Mr. MILLER. I do not at this point, sir. I will be very happy to get it.
Senator SYMINGTON. Would you supply that for the record?
Senator SYMINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Cannon.
Senator CANNON. Doesn't this also include the so-called "general" discharge?
Mr. MILLER. Any discharge other than honorable.
Senator CANNON. So it would take care specifically of those who have a general discharge who are really the lightest offenders, if they are considered offenders.
Mr. MILLER. I am not sure.
Senator CANNON. I have seen many instances myself where these young boys have been in the service and gotten so many "black marks" let's say the first year that with exemplary conduct after that time were still unable to get an honorable discharge, and yet they can't go to work for any of the classified agencies of the Federal Government now because of that situation.
With this type of a certificate, would this enable a man to qualify let's say for a clearance for any of the classified agencies?
Mr. MILLER. When it gets into the field of classified agencies, this is a matter which I couldn't answer at this time. The real emphasis, gentlemen, if I can resort to the actual field experience, is there is nothing that this boy has that he can take in his hand, or a girl, as far as that is concerned, to a prospective employer.
We do not want to confuse this issue. It in no way, shape, or form relates to veterans' benefits. This is not the point. This boy is suffering under a stigma, and one which is very real, and in some people's minds proper. But here is a problem of trying to create for him an opportunity to regain his dignity and to become a self-supporting citizen in his community, and this bill has had the support of Secretary Wirtz from the start, and we recommend it to you for your consideration.
Senator CANNON. I have nothing further, Mr. Chairman.