Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill Extending Veterans Educational Benefits

October 23, 1968

Administrator Driver, Chairman Olin Teague, distinguished Members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen:

When President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the first GI bill of rights back in the year 1944, that legislation was looked upon as the largest veterans bill ever passed by the Congress. As we meet here in the Cabinet Room today for another signing ceremony, we look back upon this measure as one of the largest education bills ever passed.

In 1944, this GI bill was considered a reward for military service. But today, we realize that it was really one of the very best investments that we ever made for the future of our own country.

What we have spent on the GI bill has already come back to us many, many fold. Not only the original bill, but the Korean bill, and the current GI bill.

The Bible tells us, "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Today, we are going to sow some more education seeds with this measure--the additions and extensions of the GI bill.

First, I would hope that the country could recognize what our taxpayers and our Congress have laid down as a matter of policy so that they could understand that we do face up to some of our problems and we are somewhat understanding and generous in meeting those problems.

We are going to guarantee a full 4 years of college for 2 years of service by giving the men who wear our uniform a month and a half of education credit for every month of uniform service. The maximum ratio is now a month for a month.

Second, we are going to broaden and extend the educational benefits: To the widows of those who lost their lives in service for us or as a result of some service-connected injury, and to the wives of permanently disabled veterans, the benefits will be extended.

Thus, you should realize that we are opening the doors of all of our universities to almost a quarter of a million women.

Thus, we are providing for a full education for hundreds of thousands of returning servicemen.

A veterans bill--yes. But most important of all, an education bill that will not only recognize the veteran's service, but will enrich the Nation that he fought and gave his blood to protect.

To Chairman Teague, who through the years has served his country in uniform and in the Congress as the Chairman of this important Committee, to the ranking minority member of that Committee who is with us here this morning, the gentleman from Ohio, to Senator Long and the members of the Senate Committee and the Labor and Public Welfare Committee, to my own colleague, Senator Yarborough, to all of those who through the years have given special attention to veterans legislation, I commend them and flank them for their efforts.

Particularly do I want to recognize the services and the wisdom demonstrated by one of our career men, the man that all the veterans organizations and the men of both parties recommended to me as the Veterans Administrator, Mr. Bill Driver.

He has been a model of a public servant. And his ability to deal with these very delicate problems, with men who have suffered disabilities, and who are trying to be readjusted to life--it is just beyond compare.

So as I leave this office, I want to say to Mr. Driver that if I could leave one wish behind me, it would be that all civil servants could handle their job like you handle yours and that we could have more civil servants in top administrative positions.

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:05 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to William J. Driver, Administrator of Veterans Affairs, and Representative Olin E. Teague of Texas, Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs. During his remarks he referred to Representative William H. Ayres of Ohio and Senators Russell B. Long of Louisiana and Ralph Yarborough of Texas.

As enacted, the bill (H.R. 16025) is Public Law 90-631 (82 Stat. 1331).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill Extending Veterans Educational Benefits Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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