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ALBANY, GA., February 27, 1967. Dear Senator ERvin: I sincerely wish to congratulate you on the introduction fof a bill forbidding coercion in the savings bond program. I am enclosing a SecNav Notice on the same subject.
In my opinion the issuing of such a notice will not alleviate the problem. It is inherent in the military system that the "maximum effort toward attainment of goals set by the President” will produce undue pressure. Here on the Supply Center in my office (Disbursing) we are required to maintain an IBM card on each member of the military and upon request we run the cards producing a list of each man aboard the base by service number and containing only the information of a "B” or a blank space after the name. This list is reproduced and I have heard from nany that they are “counseled” further on the merits of a bond.
It was common knowledge that any officer on this base who did not buy a bond would have a conference with the Chief of Staff.
Often I feel even the $6.25 per month bond program could be better utilized by say for instance a Lance Corporal (E-3) under two years service:
$121. 80 BAQ (W).
55. 20 Excluding) clothing allowance (normally require for upkeep of uniform). (5. 10) Commuted rations...
Total (per month before taxes)
216.00 Typical expenditures: Rent.
65. 00 Food.
60. 00 Gas-oil, etc., (automobile).
15. 00 Heat, lights, water, phone
25. 00 Social security
5. 35 Government life insurance..
2. 00 Miscellaneous soft goods.
10. 00 Clothing
10. 00 Total..
192. 35. Therefore, this $6.25 often is about 25% of "spendable” income per month. Often these bonds are cashed as soon as the law allows; and I am quite certain the government loses money since administrative costs on a $18.75 bond cashed within year of issue far exceeds the “interest the government gains, thus defeating 'he program. Sincerely yours,
MARCH 17, 1967. DEAR SIR: You don't know me. But I would greatly appreciate it if you would akesa small amount of your time to read this little note. I am in the ny and I am stationed in Mannheim, Germany. I am also a reader of the Overseas Weekly nagazine. And just tonight I was looking it over. And also ran into an article that I think is of great importance to all servicemen. That is this article of you trying o pass a new bill for this so-called voluntary charity. It couldn't have been said better than the magazine printed it. Something should certainly be done about it. They hit me once a month in the pay line for two dollars each month. They even take more from a guy each time he gets another stripe. That is foolish. And it sure isn't voluntary at all. I draw about 74 dollars a month. I'm married and also have one child. They even get their charity money before my wife receives her allotment check. In fact, my wife is still waiting on last month's check to come in. In
my pay line a guy has to walk up to one table, salute and get his money; then no more than three steps away there's someone waiting there to take it away again. Now, sir, please don't misunderstand me; I don't mind at all giving to charity of any kind. But it's far from being voluntary. What I really want to tell you is that I wish you the best of luck in passing this new bill
. And I'm quite sure that I'm speaking for many American soldiers. I felt kind of funny writing this letter because I've never done anything like this before. But I felt that I had to do this. Thank you very much for your interest in us soldiers. Nice to know someone in the world is thinking about us. Sincerely yours,
Fort Hood, TEX., March 10, 1967. Hon. Sam ERVIN, Chairman, Subcommittee on Senate Constitutional Rights, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR Ervin: As a company commander I agree that service men should have the right to spend his pay check as he sees fit. Pressure to buy bonds or donate to charities has always been a disturbing issue.
I would also like for you to con der the fact th all officers join the Officers Club and are always donating to charities or slush funds. I feel that provisions should be introduced in your bill to prohibit the pressure applied in these areas. Thanking you in advance for your consideration in this matter, I remain, Sincerely yours,
May 2, 1967. Senator Sam J. ERVIN, Jr., Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.
DEAR SENATOR ERVIN: I am pleased to learn that you have introduced a bill to prohibit coercion of servicemen to buy bonds and contribute to charities. My purpose for writing relates only to savings bond pressure tactics evident here. Commanders at Wing, Base or higher levels within 10th Air Force have not exerted “hard Sell” pressure in charity drives, but the Savings Bond program has lost all manner of reasonable proportion as evidenced by the attached letters.
You will notice the goals established, the references to, "hard sell”, and weekly reports demanded of unit bond officers. These reports and attendant coercion of personnel to achieve the assigned participation goals are continuing.
I hope my letter reaches you before your bill is debated because the value of written evidence such as I have attached can far exceed that of my letter alone. Please understand, no inquiry is being requested by this letter. The attachments have been sent to you solely for the purpose of giving evidence of coercion in its most obvious form. Many policy statements from Department of Defense, Air Force Chief of Staff, and other executives above our numbered Air Force level have clearly stated that all drives are to be conducted on a voluntarybasis. Competition for promotion, probably more than anything else, caused the signatories of these letters to blatantly ignore written guidance. I am confident your bill translated into a regulation will bring a halt to all of this. Without your bill, the coercion will continue. An investigation by your office would only cause the pressures to take more subtle forms. They will continue as long as men in command positions are judged and rated on their effectiveness at achieving goals of participation set by some headquarters above them. Prohibiting coercion in any form seems to be the only way to get rid of these arbitrary quotas which destroy morale by forcing lower-level commanders to meddle in the financial affairs of their subordinates.
Major, U.S. Air Force.
APRIL 19, 1967. Senator Sam J. Ervin, Jr.
HONORABLE SENATOR: The enclosed news article recently came to my attention, and I wish to take this time to congratulate you in attempting to eliminate a disgraceful situation that exists in the military in the form of coercion to buy bonds. Having had a distasteful experience whereby I was almost court-martialed for trying to resist being coerced into “prying” into the personnel records of airmen and officers for the bond campaign, it leaves me with a good feeling to know that this sort of thing is not going by unnoticed. At the time of the above mentioned affair, I was a dedicated 30-year career NCO in the Air Force, with 22 years of service already behind me. After this happened, I decided that if I could get court-martialed and lose all I took 22 years to get, over a bond program just so a Lt./Col. could look good, then it was time for me to get out, and I did. (Otherwise, I probably wouldn't feel free to write this.) What my getting out of the service cost the Air Force in skill and experience, I don't know. But I do know that mine is not an isolated incident, and that many others have gotten out or retired from the service for similar type actions of coercion.
Even after the coerced party buys the bonds, probably 90% of them are cashed in again at the earliest possible time anyway. So you really haven't sold any bonds when the full story of selling bonds ends.
So not wanting to risk my career further I happily retired, and wish to thank pu and your fellow committeemen for their continued efforts toward helping our jervicemen. Sincerely yours,
U.S. Air Force Master Sergeant (Retired).
GI's, U.S. WORKERS FIGHT SAVINGS BOND “COERCION” WASHINGTON. (AP).—The files of the Senate constitutional rights subcomkittee are bulging with complaints from servicemen and Federal employes that fey are coerced into buying savings bonds and making charitable contributions.
Letters from servicemen tell of being denied promotion and even of being hreatened with shipment to Vietnam if they fail to buy bonds.
The subcommittee also has received reports of Marine sergeants being sent into ne foxholes in Vietnam to sign up fighting men for bond purchases. Sen. Sam J. Ervin, Jr., (Ď., N.C.), subcommittee chairman, has introduced a ill that would, among other things, protect government employes against any prm of compulsion to buy bonds or contribute to charity.
Thomas D. Morris, assistant secretary of defense for manpower, said the Dense Department not only does not authorize coercion of civilian and military fersonnel to buy savings bonds or contribute to charitable campaigns, but has not And will not condone such coercion.
Ervin declined to submit to the Pentagon the names of persons who had comtained. "The risk of reprisals is not worth such an exercise in futility,” Ervin said.
The Treasury Department said 1,427,602 servicemen are enrolled in payroll svings plans—where bonds are purchased automatically and the price is deducted com pay—as of last Sept. 30. | As of Sept. 30, the Army had 85 percent enrollment with 765,133 active particiants, followed by the Air Force with 45.2 percent or 392,542 participants. | The Navy and Marine Corps combined has 27.2 percent participation, the Department said, with 201,637 Navy personnel and 68,290 Marines taking part. Of Federal civilian employees, 73.8 percent or 1,637,129 persons were enrolled the payroll savings program as of Sept. 30, the department added. During the first nine months of 1966, the department said, $648.1 million in onds were bought by Federal employes both civilian and military under .payroll avings. Civilians bought $445.2 million and the military $202.9 million.
NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA., April 6, 1967. nator Sam J. ERVIN, Democrat, ashington, D.C.
DEAR Sır: Congratulations on your introduction of your bill to prohibit cocion of servicemen to buy bonds or contribute to charity fund drives.
I was a chaplain in Korea (1962–63), Fort Bliss, Texas, Fort Dix, N.J., and we ere badgered by our superiors to buy U.S. saving bonds, etc.—I have noticed lenty of arm twisting on this matter. Push your bill through and try to keep a close eye on the Armed Forces.
Senator ERVIN. Mr. Chairman, thank you.
I think that Admiral Hearn is here to testify on the bill to establish he Judge Advocate General's Corps for the Navy. I am sure he will over that subject fully, and I don't care to add anything to his estimony.
In respect to the other matter, I have a bill (S. 1036) that would make it a military offense for any commissioned officer or any person acting under the authority of an officer to coerce or attempt to coerce military personnel to purchase savings bonds or make contributions or donations to any charitable cause. It has a proviso in it that
Nothing contained in this subsection shall be construed to prohibit any commissioned officer or any member of the Armed Forces acting or purporting to act under his authority from calling meetings or taking any action appropriate to afford to any member of the Armed Forces of the U.S. the opportunity voluntarily to invest his earnings in bonds or other obligations or securities issued by the United States or any of its departments or agencies, or voluntarily to make donations to any institution or cause of any kind.
It has been one of the most astounding things, Mr. Chairman, but the Committee on Constitutional Rights has received literally hundreds and hundreds of letters from people in the Armed Forces telling me of the coercive practices that are imposed upor them to compel them to make contributions to various charities and to compel them to purchase bonds. I have had many letters sent in to me, such as this one from a major in the Marine Corps, in which he says:
Investment in savings bonds at the request of the President has been put on a “duty” basis by the commandant. He has gone further to say that our participation in the savings bond program is directly indicative of our devotion to our country.
He goes ahead to say:
I think that officers and staff noncommissioned officers should be reminded that when our President, commandant, commanding general, battalion commander or other senior officer desires that we do something, it is no longer a personal matter. It falls into the same category as any other expressed desire or prescribed policywe comply unless it is impossible to do so; and we offer a valid explanation when we cannot comply. This is no more a personal matter than the military's requirement that we get our hair cut more often than civilians do or that we spend more of our money on shoe polish. These things we have accepted as part of the military life we have chosen. When our seniors policies include participation in the savings bond program, this, as officers and staff noncommissioned officers we must accept, whether or not we agree wholeheartedly with the policy. A clear understanding of this point should be the end of the savings bond campaign for officers and staff noncommissioned officers. * * * The President has made a personal appeal to members of the Armed Forces to support our country through participation in the savings bond program. Our commandant, in turn has interpreted our obligation to comply with the President's request as being inseparable from our duty to support our country. He has expressed his confidence that we would answer.
And so on.
I have a multitude of letters coming from others in the service. I have had statements from many officers in the Armed Forces, such as this one from a captain:
From my own experiences I know that the junior officer who wants to have a successful career in the armed services finds it extremely difficult to resist pressure from superiors who want him to "display his leadership ability” and obtain 100percent participation in the drive from the members of his unit. In my own case, I have had pressure of varying degrees applied during the past 7 years and have finally adopted a policy of contributing from my own pocket for any of my subordinates who do not wish to participate in a drive so that I can meet the goals set for me and still live with my conscience.
Then I have a statement from a lieutenant colonel in the Army:
Don't let anyone tell you they don't set quotas and then put the pressure on through the chain of command. By devious means the word gets out as to what the quota is and by when it must be met. Then it gets to be a contest between the
1 various commanders to demonstrate their "leadership” ability to be the first to
lleet the quota. Really, it's just a demonstration of their extortion capability | Icept that some enterprising units conduct candy sales, bake sales, or chop and all wood, or the whole company goes and picks beans for a farmer to make money,
Jon Government time, of course * * *. [ Of course, the bond drives are notorious. It doesn't matter that the men cash the bonds as fast as they buy them. The big thing is to be able to report 100 percent are buying bonds. My efficiency report for one period of command conains the derogatory statement that I couldn't get my command up to 90 perint bond buyers. This is the only derogatory statement in many ratings, but probably cost me a promotion. I received one letter from an officer in Vietnam. He said he had ist gotten back from the fighting and hadn't had time to sell bonds, at they threatened to give him a poor efficiency report, because he ad not got 100 percent participation in the bond drives.
I have introduced in the record scores of other letters. One of them ates that the sergeant major and a platoon commander ad a bond drive. They interviewed Marines from fighting holes and kept track
that every individual could have an opportunity to invest his money in a Forthwhile savings program. You can't get away from it even in Vietnam. Then I have a letter from a chaplain in the Army with the rank major, which outlines the harrassment put on these men. He says: Do not let the DoD tell you that it will handle the problem without further I gislation. They won't do it. The evil will be reduced for awhile, but after concessional concern and clamor dies down, there will be a return to the old custom i making everyone join and everyone donate or buy. Indeed, the higher ranks are he worst offenders. Let no one tell you that the motive is to teach the soldier to ive or to assure him good association. The motive is very clear. The motive is to dvance the career of the commanders in the eyes of senior commanders. Every mmander has to have 100-percent participation and it is difficult for the soldier I get through the pay line without being robbed. Interrogate the next soldier ou meet. Visit a company pay line at one of the Washington area posts next pay nay. But don't tell anyone you are coming. I tell soldiers that under our law they ave no obligation to donate, buy or join and they have no obligation to explain f) any officer of the U.S. government their refusal. I think that all collectors, endors and recruiters should be kept far from the pay line. I have had a number of letters from men in the service that
that henever they have a payday somebody is over at a table for a bond sive or for a charitable cause, and they are compelled to contribute efore they leave the line. They are told, and I have got hundreds of tters from servicemen, that they can't get promotions unless they
articipate. They are even denied leave if they don't participate, and re threatened with all of the bad assignments like kitchen police. They are told that if they are too poor to buy a bond they are too poor bo get leave to go off on the weekend.
I wish I had time to read more of these, but I would be trespassing po much on the time of the committee. But I have one here from a poy whose father sent it to me from North Carolina. The boy is up ear the front and the sergeant wanted him to participate in the bond rive. He was kept on the post and told to stay there. They kept him
here 24 hours without food or water to break his spirit and compel im to buy the bond.
I could multiply these things a hundredfold. In some places they even combine these charity drives with other programs of the military. At the U.S. Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Fla., October 24, 1966, they posted the plan of the day. They were raising money there for what they call the annual one-shot combined Federal campaign drive (CFC), They combined this with the weight-reducing program. Everybody