Veto of Bill Cutting Support for Vocational Rehabilitation of Soldiers


Veto of Bill Cutting Support for Vocational Rehabilitation of Soldiers


Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924




1919 July 11


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library


Press Releases
Disabled veterans--Vocational rehabilitation--United States
Veto--United States




To the House of Representatives:

I find myself obliged to return H. R. 6176, “An Act making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1920, and for other purposes”, without my signature, because of certain items of the bill which seem to me likely to be of the most serious consequence. Under the Vocational Rehabilitation Bill which became law June 27, 1918, the Congress has sought to fulfill the expectations of the country that their soldier, sailor and marine disabled in the recent war should be given an opportunity to secure at the expense and under the fostering care of the Federal Government such training as he needs to overcome the handicap of his disability and to resume his place as a civilian able to earn a living upon something like equal footing with those with whom he was associated before he made his great sacrifice for the honor and defence of the country.

The work of rehabilitation under this admirable law is now at its height, and was to have been given greater speed and certainty by the amendment to Section 2 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Bill which I have today signed and which places the whole responsibility for vocational training in a single agency, virtually transferring from the War Risk Insurance Bureau to the Federal Board for Vocational Education six million dollars with which to support disabled men in training at the generous figure of eighty dollars a month for a single man and one hundred dollars a month for a man and his wife.

It is a matter of very grave concern, therefore, that at the very moment when these disabled men are coming in constantly increasing numbers to the Government to avail themselves of this generous plan, there should appear in the Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill, which I now return, limiting clauses which will do much more than seriously cripple and retard the beneficial work of restoring these men to useful and contented lives. Those clauses would probably, in fact, if put into effect, nullify the whole purpose of the Act and render its administration practically impossible. The section of the Bill which I now return which governs the appropriation for this work provides the sum of six million dollars for all the expenses of rehabilitation, including the support of the disabled men in training, and this sum is stated to be “in lieu of the appropriation contained in the act approved July __ 1919, amending Section 2 of the Act approved June 27, 1918”. Inasmuch as there are already over four thousand disabled soldiers, sailors and marines in training, and inasmuch as another four thousand will be put into training now that the Amendment to Section 2 has become law, it is clear that even at the rate of only eighty dollars a month a sum approximating eight millions will be required for the mere support of these men, and that under the present appropriation nothing will be available for their tuition and travel or for placing them where they can earn a living, and it will be impossible to meet the needs of the new thousands who are every week seeking the beneficts of the rehabilitation act. In the offices of the Board in the District of Columbia and in fourteen great centers of the United States immediate help is being given to men in need of these services, and these offices are used for the essential purpose of keeping accurate records, of providing proper medical survey of the men, of caring for them in their illnesses, and for the various administrative costs inseparable from difficult work of this kind, which must in the present circumstances reach to every corner of the United States.

Furthermore, the same section of the Sundry Civil Bill places such limitations upon the salaries which the Federal Board for Vocational Education is permitted to pay, that it will inevitably result in the loss by the Vocational Board of a very large number of men who have made themselves especially valuable, and indeed indispensable, in this new work by reason of their native ability, their proven general experience, and their special training, and to whose advice the disabled men must look as well as for superintendence in the matter of training and employment. Among these are to the vocational advisers whose special duty it is to study the men in the hospitals, confer with them, and lay out their vocational plans. These hospital cases must, if these men are to be dismissed or allowed to resign, get along entirely without such advice and supervision until they have been able, after thieir discharge, to make their way on their own initiative to the distant offices of the Federal Board.

These serious limitations upon the amount of money available and the uses to which it is to be put, involved therefore an actual disruption of a carefully built up service at the very moment when the disabled soldiers, sailors and marines now in the country or returning to it are most immediately in need of help. This is a matter of the gravest consequence. It cannot but have far-reaching and disastrous effects upon the plan so carefully thought out for the immediate and thorough rehabilitation of men in the service of the country.

I therefore return the Bill with the hope that the Congress will reconsider this section of the law, restore the six millions appropriated under the Act amending Section 2, and most liberally revise the salary limitations, so that this beneficent work may go on and go on at once. I am convinced that in this matter I speak the sentiments and the hopes of those who have most carefully studied the needs of the returning soldiers and who are best qualified to carry out a purpose which I am sure the country has very much at heart.


The White House.

Original Format






Wilson, Woodrow, 1856-1924, “Veto of Bill Cutting Support for Vocational Rehabilitation of Soldiers,” 1919 July 11, WWP20669, Woodrow Wilson Press Statements, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.