Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Veterans' Pension and Readjustment Assistance Act of 1967

August 31, 1967

Mr. Vice President, Senator Yarborough, Congressman Dorn, Congressman Teague, other Members of Congress, Mr. Driver, ladies and gentlemen:

Today I have asked you to come here and join with me as I sign a measure that I feel will keep faith with this generation of our servicemen.

It is a way of saying to these men at arms in Vietnam and elsewhere that America does not forget.

It will also help needy veterans who have followed their country's flag in our past conflicts.

This bill before us does three things:

It gives returning servicemen more money to help them pursue their education, or train for jobs and skills under the new GI bill that we signed last year.

It will especially help those who have families make ends meet.

Second, it removes an inequity. It gives those now in service the same veterans benefits that have been granted to their brothers in other wars.

Third, it shows compassion toward the older and the poorer veteran, his widow and his children, by increasing pension payments an average of 5.4 percent. This will make their standard of living a little better.

All of this will come at a time when we must exercise the utmost restraint in our spending. I reaffirm that necessity now.

Our budget is seriously deficient, and the deficit could run into many billions of dollars.

The first full year's cost of this bill is estimated to exceed by $115 million the amount the President proposed to the Congress. But it was passed without a single dissenting vote in either House.

This might reflect the fact that 148 Members of both Houses remember from their own experience--and if they don't remember it, I am sure Senator Yarborough and Congressman Teague reminded them--the great assistance which the GI bill can provide.

One compelling fact about this increase persuades me that it can be accepted in good conscience, because most of these extra funds are investments in education, and are investments in job training, for all of those who have borne the burden of military service.

Both of these are crucial to the completion of this Nation's work. Both are cornerstones of this administration's program.

The GI bill, itself, has been one of the best investments, I think, that we have made as a people. I congratulate all the Members of Congress who have provided the leadership in that great effort.

Since I signed the GI bill just 18 months ago, almost a half million returning servicemen and women have used its benefits to go back to school, or to train themselves for a better life. More than half a million Americans stack arms each year--their service over.

One day the numbers of men whom we must call upon in time of conflict to protect all of us will be reduced, because one good day the world is going to be at peace.

With every resource at my command I am working in every way I know how to hasten that day.

I welcome all the help that I can get along the way.

We are, and we will be, searching for a peaceful resolution to the war in Vietnam-every single day, and every single waking hour.

The forces who launched that war are now, at this moment, tragically using every terroristic plan, practice, or device they can conceive to try to stop the people of Vietnam from freely electing their own government.

The aggressors must realize that they cannot defeat the efforts of the South Vietnamese people to secure and strengthen their nation, nor can they, by their speeches or their propaganda, deter America's commitment to assist them.

And until that realization comes, then we Americans are going to--we Americans must--man the line where that commitment runs.

This bill that is before us today is in great part for those men who man that line.

To those men who man that line, their Congress and their President are glad to join together today to extend to them this modicum of recognition for the great sacrifices that they made for us throughout the years and that they are making particularly right now.

Note: The President spoke at 1:43 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas, Representative W. J. Bryan Dorn of South Carolina, Representative Olin E. Teague of Texas, and Administrator of Veterans Affairs William I. Driver.
As enacted, the bill (S. 16) is Public Law 90-77 (81 Stat. 178).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing the Veterans' Pension and Readjustment Assistance Act of 1967 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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