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Statement About Veterans Benefits Legislation

October 24, 1972

THIS Nation has a profound commitment to our 29 million veterans, and I pledge that we shall serve them as well as they have served us.

Today I am especially pleased to sign into law two measures which will advance us a long way toward that goal:

--H.R. 12828, the Vietnam Era Veterans' Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 and

--H.J. Res. 748, the Veterans' Administration Medical School Assistance and Health Manpower Training Act of 1972.

Our commitment to veterans was well demonstrated on March 26, 1970, when I signed Public Law 91-219, which substantially increased monthly GI bill educational allowances--raising those for a single veteran with no dependents from $130 to$175.

Today, with the signing of H.R. 12828, the $175 monthly figure is increased to a new all-time high of $220.

This important measure actually increases GI bill education allowance rates by 25.7 percent for able and disabled veterans and dependents. It also increases by 48 percent the rates paid to GI bill trainees taking on-the-job or apprenticeship training, and, for the first time, permits the advance payment of allowances to trainees.

The second of the two bills which I am signing addresses a separate but related concern of our veterans. It authorizes Federal grants for the purpose of rounding new medical schools and training facilities as well as the expansion of existing schools affiliated with Veterans Administration hospitals.

Not only will this bill assist the VA medical care system to stay in the forefront of medical research, but it will also permit the expansion of training for much-needed health manpower.

No group is more deserving of fair treatment than the gallant men who serve their Nation in time of conflict. No measures are more deserving of the full support of the American people than this legislation which pays a small part of the debt we owe to them.

As our involvement in Southeast Asia has wound down, as the overall troop strength of our Armed Forces has been reduced, and as we shift to an all-volunteer army, increasing numbers of GI's are returning to civilian life. They must not come home to indifference; they must not come home to an America that ignores the sacrifices they have made.

They deserve the respect of us all, and they deserve every opportunity we can offer them to develop promising civilian careers. For many of them, the amended GI bill is a special key to that opportunity.

The significant increases in benefits included in H.R. 12828 will make it easier for more returning veterans to take full advantage of the GI bill, but the wholehearted cooperation of the private sector is also needed to develop the fullest potential of this measure.

The time to act is now. There are college openings--veterans should be filling them. The economy is expanding--veterans should get first crack at the new jobs. And, for veterans enrolled in school under the GI bill, employers should consider splitting some jobs to provide part-time employment for two or more veterans, as is being done by the Federal Government. If the Government and the private sector both do their share, every GI bill veteran who needs a part-time job can soon have one.

By giving our veterans the gratitude and the opportunity they deserve, we are not only doing the right thing for them-we are also doing the right thing for all of us. Each returning veteran is a human resource, a mature, highly motivated young citizen who has proven his capacity to serve and to achieve. These young men and women form one of our strongest hopes for the future.

We can never fully repay, in dollars, in training, and in medical service, the patriotic sacrifices of the American veteran. But we can, and we shall, use this means of reaffirming our respect and gratitude towards them, and it is in this spirit that I am delighted to sign these two bills into law.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Veterans Benefits Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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