The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

February 16, 1946 - Syracuse Herald Journal (Syracuse, New York)

No Illegitimate Children, Only Illegitimate Parents

VA May Pay Girls Who Loved, Lost
WASHINGTON – Attorneys ARE untangling thousands of American soldier romances to decide whether sweethearts may collect widows’ pensions and their children may be paid children’s benefits.

Under special accruing today are hundreds of proxy marriages to which GI Joe resorted when he was about to be shipped overseas and wanted to marry the home-town sweetheart he was leaving behind.

Not a single claim arising from an American proxy marriage has yet been held valid by U.S. courts, attorneys for the Veterans Administration say. Widow and children claims she hinge on such things as common law, polygamous and tribal marriages as well as “affairs of the moment.”

At stake are widows’ pensions for such girls as the ones in Great Britain that American doughboys met and loved but couldn’t marry legally because of war and the rules of their commanding officers, before they were off to Normandy.

“The United States is trying to lean over backwards – nay, we sometimes fall over backwards – in interpreting some of these claims in favor of widows and children,” said one attorney of the staff of Edward E. Odom, Veterans Administration solicitor.

The claim experts, in some cases, call a child legal but don’t recognize the marriage.

“In other words, there are no illegitimate children; there are only illegitimate parents,” they explain, “We don’t believe in visiting, the sins of the father upon the children.” Many British girls cannot collect widows’ pensions because of this ruling, but their children are receiving children’s benefits from the U.S. Government.

Children’s Benefits are paid: 1. If a marriage of a Yank to a foreign girl was legitimate. In such a case, the girl receives a widow’s pension, too. 2. If the marriage was not legitimate, but the soldier acknowledged in a casual letter or in other writing that he was the father of the child; or if he was ordered by the court to support the child. 3. If, lacking indisputable proof, the Veterans Administrator believes the child to be the offspring of an American soldier.

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