John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Uniformed Services Pay Raise Bill

October 02, 1963

It gives me a good deal of pleasure to approve H.R. 5555, a bill to amend title 37, United States Code, to increase the rates of basic pay for members of the uniformed services, and for other purposes.

I want to commend the Members of Congress, of the House and Senate, who worked so hard to pass this most essential bill.

In the last 3 years, I have had an opportunity to visit a good many military units of the Army, the Air Force, and the Navy. I have some idea of how fortunate we are to have their service at the disposal of the United States. Every citizen of this country owes them a greater debt than they realize, that they are able in a very prosperous and peaceful country to live as secure as they do because of the dedicated service of so many hundreds and thousands of our fellow citizens who serve in this country and all around the globe.

One million Americans serve outside our borders, and I think that the peace of this world of ours and its security have depended in a good measure upon the members of the military of the United States. And while we are all necessarily and properly respectful and impressed with the constantly more powerful weapons which are being developed, I think it is important that we realize that it is the men who must manage them, control them, and have the will to direct them.

So I think this is a very important bill. I think in some ways that we are taking care of a matter which should press very heavily upon us. I think there has been inadequate compensation. I think that this bill will encourage, I hope, men to stay in the armed services, increase its professional quality and, most importantly of all, to make it easier for them to sustain their families who must undergo considerable sacrifice themselves.

One of the features of the bill which I think is most impressive is that it provides for the first time that significant increases in the cost of living will be automatically translated into corresponding increases in retired pay. The Coast Guard, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and the Public Health Service which are also covered by the bill also perform impressive public service.

In supporting this legislation before the Congress, this administration pledged to use its best efforts to assure that in the future military compensation will keep pace with increases in salaries and wages in the civilian economy. I think that I speak on behalf of all of us when I say that is a pledge we intend to keep.

I would like to express again my appreciation--I know I do for the Secretary of Defense and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--to the members of the Armed Services Committees of the House and Senate for their very dedicated work on this legislation.

Note: The President spoke at 9:30 a.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 5555 is Public Law 88-132 (77 Stat. 210).

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Signing the Uniformed Services Pay Raise Bill Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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