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Vet Insurance:
How Soldiers Are Swindled

(30 July 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 31, 30 July 1945,p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Many of our overseas veterans have been found fit for combat but unfit for army insurance!

Yank, the army weekly newspaper, has carried a series of letters from overseas veterans, some of whom have been in combat, who register this complaint.

Bill of Complaints

“Government insurance ... was disapproved because of physical disability. Yet I have already been on the frontlines. Is it true that if the Government won’t approve insurance for me I should be discharged? Also the Veterans’ Administration in Washington won’t approve.”

“Upon my arrival in the China theater I received notice that my policy was rejected because of a previous case of syphilis before entering the Army ... I have a wife and four children who are depending on me for support. If I were killed they would be left alone without support.”

“I lost my right eye in an accident a year before I was inducted into the Army. At the time of my induction I was informed I was in limited service and wouldn’t leave the States, so I only took out $5,000 insurance. I filled out an application for an additional $4,000 before leaving the States but received a letter from the Veterans’ Administration informing me that it was turned down because of my eye. Incidentally, when Iw as given my overseas physical, the vision of my glass eye was registered as 20/40 (!).”

So go the letters.

Yank also prints the reply to these complaints by Veterans Administrator, Frank T. Hines. Hines defends the policy of the Army and the Veterans’ Administration on the grounds that the acceptance of “substandard risks” would cause “impairment of the equities” of other veterans. Beneath the jargon ofinsurance lie these facts:

All soldiers pay for their own insurance. It is not, as commonly believed, any sort of “gratuity” on the part of government to the men who have risked their lives or died. The life expectancy tables show that so many men will die in battle, and hence so many insurance policies will have to be paid. This is “term,” or “mutual” insurance. Those matured policies are paid out of the premiums taken out of the soldiers’ meager pay. Life insurance costs the government nothing.

Now, Hines means that literally there would be added expense to the “other policy holders” if “substandard risks” were also given the usual $10,000 policies. It is true that men with more than ordinary physical disabilities are likely to produce more casualties.

Then, one must ask, why were these men sent overseas in the first place, and why were some of them sent into combat in the second?

And the question of all questions is: why does the National Service Life Insurance not give protection to all the wives and children of all the men in the service who are in danger of losing their lives?

Soldiers would not have deducted $6.70 a month from their pay for life insurance for the protection of their families in the event of their death if they did not fear a great insecurity. The widespreaduse of insurance, aside from enriching the great insurance trusts who prey upon fear of insecurity, testifies to the widespread existence of fear of poverty.

The very least that the government could do for the handicapped men it sends into war to protect the very investments of the insurance businesses among others, is to provide the insurance for the families of those soldiers!

The standard, everyday milking of the civilian worker by insurance companies, through various insurance schemes (“endowment,” “twenty-year life” and other appealing policies) which cause the “beneficiary” to pay over and over again for his insurance benefits, is bad enough.

Swindling the soldier who suffers a physical disability which fits him for combat but not for insurance, is even worse.

Let Government Pay

If the soldier had any feeling that he was returning to – or, rather, since there was no guarantee that he would return, that his family would live in – the “century of the common man,” and a peaceful, abundant society of plenty for all, he would not have the fearful anxiety he does about security for his family.

In an equitable society, in a reasonable society, in an abundant society, which everyone admits is possible, but which only the socialists have some idea of achieving, the insurance racket would not exist. The breadwinner of a family would not have that gnawing doubt – which makes him victim of the insurance business – as to what would happen to his family in case of his death.

Socialists advocate that the government do the least it should pay for the insurance of the handicapped soldier without raising the premiums of “other policy holders.”

Fit enough for combat, fit enough for insurance!

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