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Senator YOUNG. Mr. Chairman, carrying it a little further, Senator Cannon's observations, it appears to me that all of us know about the way things are run in the Armed Forces, that in some outfits the stigma that is attached, or perhaps a dishonorable discharge might be given out in some outfits while in another outfit they are given an undesirable or a bad conduct discharge. There is a great diversity in punishment in these matters in the branches of the services in different outfits.
Mr. MILLER. I will have to confer with the Department on that, Senator. Actually, if I could say this to you, we don't want to confuse this. We are not attempting to change the character of the discharge.
Senator YOUNG. I understand that.
Mr. MILLER. I think your observations, sir, are accurate.
Senator YOUNG. Personally, I think this is a very good bill. I will be glad to support it. It will be very helpful to a lot of youngsters who perhaps got off with a bad start. I think this is just as good a bill as the bill we just considered was a bad bill, where it wants the Government to guarantee to the milk dealers in Ohio-and we have a lot of them and some of them have written me-want us to legislate to guarantee them a profit in getting a 6-month or a 12-month contract. I will vote against the last bill, but I will enthusiastically support this bill. That is all I have.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Inouye.
Senator INOUYE. No questions, Mr. Chairman.
Senator BYRD of Virginia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It seems to me this is a very desirable and perhaps necessary piece of legislation. Let me ask you this question, if I may. I note here that during the past 8 years, the number of discharges, less than honorable discharges was 3.2 percent. Is that considered about normal, more or less? Mr. MILLER. The answer is "Yes", Senator.
Senator BYRD of Virginia, I would have thought 3.2 percent would be high. You feel it is normal?
Mr. MILLER. Yes, sir.
Senator BYRD of Virginia. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman RUSSELL. Do any further questions occur to any other members of the committee?
Senator SYMINGTON. Mr. Chairman, I would, if I may.
Chairman RUSSELL. I want to clarify the record. A general discharge is not a dishonorable discharge. It is considered as an honorable discharge, and it does not deny the recipient of any of his rights as an exserviceman.
Senator CANNON. Mr. Chairman, I think the general discharge is considered as a discharge other than honorable.
Chairman RUSSELL. It is considered as an honorable discharge. An undesirable discharge is considered as one under conditions other than honorable, but a general discharge is often given in cases where the man just doesn't have the mental capacity to be a soldier or a sailor. I am quite sure I am right about that.
Senator CANNON. I just handled one where the man can't get a job working for the AEC because he has a general discharge.
Chairman RUSSELL. Well, that may well be, because the general discharge shows that the service thought there was something wrong
with him, either mentally or otherwise, or from the standpoint of character, but it does not even bar him from veterans' benefits if he is entitled to them otherwise.
Senator CANNON. Would a general discharge come under this category? Would they be included in this?
Chairman RUSSELL. I don't know whether they would, or not. It wouldn't be necessary because it is not a dishonorable discharge. Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, could we refer this to Colonel Temple. Chairman RUSSELL. Yes, Colonel.
Colonel TEMPLE. Sir, a general discharge is a general discharge under honorable conditions. This bill deals with discharges other than under honorable conditions.
Chairman RUSSELL. This bill would not affect them at all, because this is considered to be under honorable conditions.
Senator BYRD of Virginia. Mr. Chairman, may I ask Colonel Temple a question in that connection?
Chairman RUSSELL. Yes.
Senator BYRD of Virginia. The 500,000 involved in this, or 3.2 percent, there is no general discharge included in that figure?
Colonel TEMPLE. That is correct, sir. This reflects undesirable, bad conduct, and dishonorable discharges.
Senator BYRD of Virginia. Thank you.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Symington has another question. Senator SYMINGTON. In the theory of it, Colonel, if a general discharge is an honorable discharge why give him the stigma of not having an honorable discharge?
Colonel TEMPLE. Sir, in effect, although it is perhaps an oversimplified analogy, a general discharge is A, B, C, or D grade, where an honorable discharge reflects an A grade for a man who has faithfully performed his service to his country in an outstanding manner.
Senator SYMINGTON. I am very sympathetic with what Senator Cannon said, however. It seems to me you stigmatize a man who could be a good man. I don't understand the difference. When did the general discharge aspect come up, the law?
Colonel TEMPLE. Sir, I would have to research the point historically, but the general discharge has been in effect at least 10 years. Chairman RUSSELL. The general discharge is usually given, I believe it is said, for the convenience of the Government; is it not? Colonel TEMPLE. It is given under a variety of circumstances, sir. Convenience of the Government is one.
Senator SYMINGTON. So you don't draft say the world's champion heavyweight for reasons you know more about than I do, but if you did draft him you would give him a general discharge because his mental capacity wasn't up to
Colonel TEMPLE. No, not necessarily.
Chairman RUSSELL. Not necessarily at all.
Colonel TEMPLE. If his service were up to the best of what he was capable, and he wasn't guilty of a substantial amount of minor misconducts, he might very well earn an honorable discharge.
Senator SYMINGTON. I have so many more questions, Mr. Chairman, I will pass.
Senator 1NOUYE. Mr. Chairman.
Chairman RUSSELL. Senator Inouye.
Senator INOUYE. Colonel Temple, what are some of the circumstances for a general discharge?
Colonel TEMPLE. Sir, a general discharge may be issued for discharges for unsuitability. I might refer specifically to the Department of Defense directive on the subject.
Mr. MILLER. Mr. Chairman, I was just going to say a statement could be included as to general discharges.
Chairman RUSSELL. I have no objections. There are any number of reasons why the general discharge is used, instead of one under honorable conditions. It is sort of a second-class discharge but not a bad conduct discharge, often given where a man has committed a number of petty offenses, and the service thinks that he is perhaps not all there mentally, and they don't want to try him and courtmarshal him, and they just discharge him for the convenience of the Government.
Any further questions? Thank you, gentlemen. (A statistical table of discharges follows:)
STATEMENT OF ROY H. McVICKER, MEMBER OF CONGRESS, SECOND DISTRICT
I am here to emphasize my strong feelings in support of H.R. 16646 to provide exemplary_rehabilitation certificates to veterans with less than honorable discharges. Earlier this year I introduced a bill, almost identical to H.R. 16646. I would like to join with my distinguished colleague, the Honorable Charles E. Bennett of Florida, in urging your favorable consideration of his excellent bill. A questionable detachment from our armed services represents a black cloud which hangs over a man for the rest of his life. He carries a stigma wherever he goes. People in his community turn their backs upon him. Our Federal Government will not help him, while it gladly and gratefully aids other veterans. Even his wife and children know there is shame in his past. Some men may successfully hide their pasts from others, yet they know within themselves that their record is not something to take pride in.
This is the plight of a half million men and women in our country. How tragic that a man cannot rid himself of this blot, regardless of how admirable a life he leads. I am not saying dishonorable discharges are handed out unjustly or indiscriminately. But many times offenders are young and immature men, who are sorry soon after. Other youths in civilian life or at college are forgiven deeds which are less rapidly forgiven in a soldier. No, injustice is not the point, though we all know unjust decisions occur in military courts as well as in civilian.
My point is that a rehabilitated person deserves an opportunity to clear his record of old stains. A man who has owned up to his past mistakes and overcomes
his weaknesses, deserves a chance to erase this last enduring obstacle to advancement. An exemplary rehabilitation certificate holds out this hope.
Our bill would have the Secretary of Labor appoint review boards which would pass judgment on applications for these certificates. They would not be given out lightly. Three years would have to elapse before any application would be in order. Evidence of rehabilitation would have to be strong. Acceptable evidence would include notarized statements from the chief law enforcement officer of the applicant's community, from his employer, and from people who have known him well. The reviewing board would use these statements and its own independent investigations to determine an applicant's reliability, good character, and general reputation.
If the decision of the board is favorable, an applicant's military personnel record would thereafter include a copy of his certificate. He would not become eligible for Federal benefits which would be his under an honorable discharge. However, he would be given job counselling and help in finding a job. He would be a prouder man through the effort he had made to reform himself.
The days are rapidly disappearing when men can be branded for one mistake, and victims of circumstance shoved aside without compassion. Congress has an important task to help people help themselves in achieving a full measure of dignity. I urge Congress to endorse these certificates for they reflect concern for this task.
STATEMENT OF COLONEL JOHN T. CARLTON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES
Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, we appreciate this opportunity to express our views to you concerning H.R. 16646, a Bill introduced and supported by The Honorable Charles E. Bennett, Congressman from Florida, to authorize the award of Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates to certain veterans of the military services.
We strongly support this Bill and recommend that it be favorably considered by your Committee.
A number of attempts have been made to pass similar legislation in the past, but we are pleased to find support both from the Department of Defense and Department of Labor for this particular Bill.
This Bill would open up the door to gainful employment to many men, whose youthful indiscretions and carelessness has, in the past resulted in a discharge from the Armed Services under other than honorable conditions, yet whose exemplary conduct since that time gives positive evidence of having gained the maturity to take this rightful place in society.
This is entirely in the American tradition. Further, in addition to affording a real chance of rehabilitation to those who deserve it, the Bill aids our economy by providing gainful employment to a significantly large group of persons on the labor market.
For the foregoing reasons, we recommend this Bill to your Committee and urge its enactment.
VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS OF THE UNITED STATES,
Hon. RICHARD B. RUSSELL,
Chairman, Armed Services Committee,
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: This is in reference to H. R. 16646, which has been approved by the House, and referred to your Committee for further consideration H. R. 16646 will establish Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates to be furnished to any person discharged or dismissed from the Armed Forces under conditions other than honorable upon being able to establish that he has rehabilitated himself and that his character, conduct, and other characteristics have been exemplary for the last three years.
The bill in no way alters, amends, or allows any veterans' benefits. It confers no new rights, privileges, or preferences to these persons because of the granting of the Exemplary Rehabilitation Certificates.
Further and most important to the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States is that the bill, as amended by the House, struck out a section of the bill which would have given the responsibility of rehabilitating these less than honorably discharged veterans to the Veterans Employment Service of the Department of Labor. Since the early 1930s under authority conferred by the Wagner
Peyser Act, honorably discharged war veterans of this nation have been provided job counseling and assistance when in need of employment. This veterans preference was further expanded and refined with the passage of the GI Bill of Rights of 1944. It was again reaffirmed and approved by the two succeeding GI Bills for the Korean war veterans and most recently the so-called Cold War GI Bill.
The bill, therefore, as it was passed by the House was amended to conform to all V.F.W. recommendations. Consequently, H. R. 16646 has the approval of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in that we have no objections to the bill.
Should your Committee hold hearings or have other formal consideration of this bill, then it is hoped and strongly recommended that if the bill is reported to the full Senate that the section of the bill relating to veterans' benefits provide that there shall be no special veterans' benefits accrue to the veteran by reason of his obtaining of the certificate.
Secondly, it is recommended that in no event shall the Veterans Employment Service of the Department of Labor be utilized in the rehabilitation program contemplated by this bill. The Veterans Employment Service was created to render counseling and assistance to honorably discharged veterans and for that reason it is hoped that this bill will in no way alter or change that policy. Your favorable consideration of these views will be deeply appreciated by the membership of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. With kind regards, I am,
FRANCIS W. STOVER, Director, National Legislative Service.
(Subsequently, in executive session, the committee voted to report H.R. 16646, with an amendment, as covered by S. Rept. 1669.)
Chairman RUSSELL. The next bill is H.R. 9916. This bill would permit the sons of Reserve officers on active duty to compete for Presidential appointments to the military academies, and it would permit the sons of members who were killed or totally disabled in line of duty to compete under a quota for sons of deceased veterans. This quota is now limited to sons of veterans of World Wars I and II or Korea.
(A copy of the bill referred to follows:)
[H.R. 9916, 89th Cong., 2d sess.]
AN ACT To amend title 10, United States Code, with respect to the nomination and selection of candidates for appointment to the Military, Naval, and Air Force Academies, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Ctongress assembled, That title 10, United States Code, is amended as follows:
(1) Sections 4342(a)(1), 6954(a)(1), and 9342(a)(1) are each amended as follows:
(A) By inserting ", or have a service-connected disability rated at not less than 100 per centum resulting from," after "died of", and by striking out "active service" and all that follows through "1955" and inserting in lieu thereof "active service.".
(B) By inserting "or disability, and the percentage at which the disability is rated," after "death" in the last sentence thereof.
(2) Sections 4342(a)(2), 6954(a)(2), and 9342(a) (2) are each amended by inserting before the period at the end thereof "or, if there is no Vice President, by the President pro tempore of the Senate”.
(3) Sections 4342(b)(1), 6954(b)(1), and 9342(b)(1) are each amended to read as follows:
"(1) one hundred selected by the President from the sons of members of an armed force who
"(A) are on active duty (other than for training) and who have served continuously on active duty for at least eight years;