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General Hines, Administrator of Veterans' Affairs, appeared before your committee and gave very complete information regarding the construction contemplated at the various homes, the necessity for making changes in location, etc., as well as the need for establishing aid for negro veterans and two homes in the Southeastern States instead of the one home contemplated in the law passed to establish a home in one of the Southeastern States. (Public Law No. 405, 71st Cong.)
General Hines also submitted a letter giving the attitude of the Veterans' Bureau and that letter is made a part of this report. The hearings giving detailed explanations are available at the committee
The letter reads as follows:
Hon. W. FRANK JAMES,
Chairman Committee on Military Affairs,
MY DEAR MR. JAMES: I have the honor to transmit herewith draft of a bill authorizing the erection of certain additional facilities at branches of the national home, which I recommend to the favorable consideration of the committee and to the Congress as a whole.
This bill proposes to authorize the appropriation of the sum of $2,850,000 to be immediately available for the purposes specified in paragraph 1 thereof, which, according to the plans which have been formulated by the Veterans' Administration, will be expended on projects described as follows:
NORTHWESTERN BRANCH, MILWAUKEE, WIS.
This branch on November 30, 1930, had a rated capacity of 1,322 barrack beds and 567 hospital beds for general medical and surgical cases. The domiciliary load at this branch has within the past few years consistently increased and at present is practically equal to the accommodations available. Further, with the expected material increase in the domiciliary load under the present requirements for admission, there is every reason to believe that the demands upon this branch, by reason of its central location and the populous area it serves, will within a comparatively short time be considerably in excess of the existing facilities. The ratio of general hospital beds to domiciliary beds at this branch is 1 to 2.3, as compared with an average of 1 to 4 for the other homes. It is apparent, therefore, that an additional barrack would balance with the general hospital space now available. Accordingly, it is planned to erect at this branch a new barrack building of 350-bed capacity at an estimated cost of $300,000. It is significant to mention that the Veterans' Bureau has recently transferred to this branch its regional field office at Milwaukee, and it may be possible through the further development of this branch, to eventually discontinue, at least for hospital purposes, the hospital now operated at Waukesha, Wis.
WESTERN BRANCH, LEAVENWORTH, KANS.
The main hospital building at this branch, which has a rated capacity of 365 beds, was erected some 40 years ago and by reason of such fact is far removed from the modern fireproof facilities found at practically all veterans' hospitals. Recently a subcommittee of the Federal Board of Hospitalization inspected these facilities and as a result recommended their early replacement. This same subcommittee, after a thorough study of the hospital situation in the general area adjacent to this branch, reached the conclusion that it would apparently be for the best interest of the Federal Government to erect at this location sufficient modern fireproof hospital facilities to not only meet the needs of the veterans domiciled there but also to permit of the treatment of a considerable number of cases from the outside. It is therefore planned to erect at the Leavenworth Branch new accommodations for 660 patients, which is the same number of beds to be acquired at the new hospital now under construction at the Central Branch, Dayton, Ohio. This number will permit of the same ratio of hospital beds to domiciliary beds as now exists at Leavenworth and at the same time make available approximately 200 beds for outside cases, which latter, incidentally, is equal
to the capacity of the Christian Church Hospital in Kansas City, now leased by the Veterans' Bureau. If this action is taken, the present main hospital building can be used for domiciliary cases, which latter load is increasing and apparently will continue to do so as the average age of the World War veterans rises. It is estimated that the new construction planned can be accomplished at a cost of not more than $1,500,000.
PACIFIC BRANCH, SANta Monica, Calif.
This, the largest of all branches, has a rated capacity of 3,424 beds for domiciliary cases and 575 beds for general medical and surgical patients. At present there is a ratio of 1 hospital bed to 5.9 domiciliary beds, as compared with an average ratio of 1 to 4 for all branches. This branch is undoubtedly the most popular of all, and for the past few years the demand for hospital facilities, particularly during the winter months, has been exceedingly heavy and beyond the accommodations available. The general hospital erected at this branch some four years ago was designed on a plan lending itself to the addition of two wings. In order, therefore, that the hospital space may be in proper balance with the domiciliary, it is recommended that an additional wing capable of accommodating from 275 to 300 patients, and a new kitchen and mess, be authorized at a cost not exceeding $550,000.
DANVILLE BRANCH, DANVILLE, ILL.
This branch has a rated capacity of 1,740 barrack beds and 567 hospital beds for general medical and surgical patients. These figures are about in the proper proportion, but 279 of the hospital beds are in convalescent barracks far distant from the main hospital building and are not well adapted for hospital use. In the stress of taking care of the increased hospital load, due to the heavy increased membership of this branch, it was necessary to use these barracks for hospital purposes. Both the domiciliary and hospital facilities at this branch are now about filled to capacity, and with the expected increased domiciliary load under present requirements for admission, additional barrack accommodations are undoubtedly indicated. The erection of new hospital facilities sufficient to absorb the patients now in convalescent barracks will increase the domiciliary capacity of this institution by over 300 beds. It is therefore recommended that new hospital facilities capable of accommodating from 275 to 300 patients and additional kitchen and mess facilities be authorized at a cost not exceeding $500,000. If this recommended action is taken, there should remain no apparent reason for continuing the veterans' hospital, with a capacity of 225 beds, at Dwight, Ill., which is some 125 miles to the northwest, and but 73 miles from Chicago. Accordingly, it is intended that in the event new hospital facilities are authorized at Danville, authority be asked to dispose of the property at Dwight.
Section 4 of the bill further authorized the President, in his discretion, to use all or any part of the moneys authorized to be appropriated by the provisions of the act approved May 16, 1930 (Public 230, 71st Cong.), the act of June 21, 1930 (Public 405, 71st Cong.), and the act of July 1, 1930 (Public 492, 71st. Cong.), for the construction of facilities at the homes mentioned therein or at any other home or hospital under the Veterans' Administration. The following projects are planned if the funds authorized by these three acts are made available therefor:
Public, No. 405, Seventy-first Congress, approved June 21, 1930, authorized to be appropriated the sum of $2,000,000 for the establishment of a branch home of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in one of the Southern States. At present, Tennessee is the only State south of Virginia and east of the Mississippi in which there is a national home. Accordingly, it would be exceedingly difficult to select a location in that area that would meet with the approval of the States involved, and at the same time bring this type of facility within a reasonable distance of the centers of the veteran population in each of these States. However, all of the States in the above-mentioned area, with the exception of South Carolina, have, or will have, upon completion of approved programs, at least one veterans' hospital. The matter of establishing and operating domiciliary units at certain types of hospitals has been given serious consideration, and it is believed that such an arrangement is entirely practicable. It is, therefore, recommended that the amount authorized by Public, No. 405 be made available so that, in the event the expenditure of the entire sum of $2,000,000 included therein is not
justified at any one location on the basis of the probable load from the area within a reasonable distance therefrom, such remaining portion may, with the approval of the President, be expended for the erection of barrack accommodations at existing veterans' hospitals.
EASTERN BRANCH, TOGUS, ME.
Public, No. 230, Seventy-first Congress, approved May 16, 1930, authorized the erection of a sanitary fireproof hospital at this branch at a limited cost, not to exceed $750,000. This branch was the first national home to be established and was built shortly after the Civil War. It is somewhat inaccessible, being located 5 or 6 miles from a railroad. Of the 51 buildings on the reservation but 10 are brick, and the balance frame. Notwithstanding that the reservation at this branch contains 1,884 acres, the largest area of any branch, the desirable building space is very limited. The present hospital unit was constructed over half a century ago, and has been added to from time to time, the last addition having been made over 25 years ago. In view of the inaccessibility of this branch, the structural deficiencies of the present buildings, the limited building area available, the recognized disadvantages of erecting modern fireproof facilities in the midst of buildings of temporary construction, and the general availability of much better sites within reasonable distance of the present branch, it is believed that the best interest of the Federal Government would be served by erecting the new hospital at a more accessible location in the same general area, with a view to adding domiciliary facilities there from time to time and ultimately dispensing with the present property. Accordingly, it is recommended that the amount authorized by the above-mentioned act be made available for the construction of a new hospital outside of and within a radius of 50 miles of the present reservation.
MOUNTAIN BRANCH, JOHNSON CITY, TENN.
Public, No. 492, Seventy-first Congress, approved July 1, 1930, authorized to be appropriated not more than $650,000 to construct at this branch a sanitary fireproof addition to the present hospital with a capacity of 100 beds, barracks, two sets of quarters for doctors, and such additional construction as may be necessary, together with appropriate mechancial equipment, etc. Committee reports indicate that an addition to the domiciliary capacity of 350 beds was also contemplated. In view of the proximity of the veterans' tuberculosis hospital at Oteen, N. C., consideration has been given to the advisability of concentrating the tuberculous load at Oteen, discontinuing specialized facilities for the treatment of tuberculosis at Johnson City, and limiting additional construction at the latter institution to necessary increase in domiciliary facilities and to such increase in capacity of the home hospital as may be necessary to meet the increased capacity in domiciliary facilities thus provided. The facilities for white tuberculars at Johnson City are in two buildings of permanent construction which were originally designed for domiciliary members and in connection with which an independent kitchen has been subsequently constructed. The facilities for colored tuberculars are in frame buildings which are a decided fire risk, and on account of the type of construction not well suited for the purpose. Additional tuberculosis wards for white and colored may readily be provided at Oteen, in such locations as to provide for serving them from the general mess. By vacating the buildings now used for white tuberculars at Johnson City, and by the construction of an additional similar building, these buildings would provide for the increase of 350 beds in domiciliary facilities, and on account of the separate kitchen which has been provided in connection with these buildings they would be particularly well adapted for the convalescent group. The 100 additional general beds originally contemplated would take care of this increase in domiciliary facilities.
In order that each institution may function for the purpose originally intended, and in order that the unnecessary administrative expense of operating separate tuberculosis facilities at Johnson City may be eliminated, the foregoing procedure appears to be warranted. It is believed that the funds authorized by the act in question will be sufficient to provide all the additional construction indicated at both institutions. It is therefore recommended that the amount authorized by Public, No. 492, be made available for additional construction at Oteen, N. C., to take care of the tuberculous patients now cared for at Johnson City, and that the facilities now occupied by white tuberculosis cases at Johnson City be amplified by such additional construction as may be required to provide an increase of 350 domiciliary beds, that additional construction be provided for 100 general
beds, and that officers' quarters and such other incidental construction as may be required to make operative the added capacity at Johnson City be provided. In connection with this act, I would invite your attention to my letter of December 20, 1930, with which I transmitted draft of a bill which would permit the use of the $650,000 authorized by the act of July 1, 1930, for the proposed construction at Oteen and Johnson City. You were kind enough to introduce this bill on January 6, 1931, and it is now pending before your committee. Should the Congress take the action which I now recommend, it will be unnecessary to further consider H. R. 15771.
I am also transmitting herewith draft of a bill which will provide for the reduction of the compensation, pension, disability allowance, or retirement pay under the disabled emergency officers' retirement act, of any veteran who is being maintained by the Veterans' Administration in a soldiers' home to an amount which shall not exceed 50 per cent of the amount he would be entitled to were he not in a home. The provision for reduction is not to be applicable to any award which is less than $20 per month, and in no case is the reduction to cut down the allowance to less than $20 per month. At the present time a Civil War veteran who enters a soldiers' home has his pension reduced at the rate of $25 per month, and a Spanish War veteran, while an inmate of a national home, can not be paid more than $50 per month, while compensation, disability allowance, or retirement pay of a veteran of the World War is not subject to any reduction. It is my opinion that all veterans receiving care in a soldiers' home, should be, as far as possible, on the same basis so far as the receipt of monetary allowances is concerned, and this legislation is therefore recommended to accomplish that result.
You are advised that I am to-day addressing a letter to the chairman of the Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation, House of Representatives, recommending similar legislation governing the allowance of all veterans who are hospitalized in United States Veterans' Bureau hospitals.
A copy of this letter is inclosed for your use.
Very truly yours,
FRANK T. HINES, Administrator.