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Statement on Signing Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Care Legislation

December 20, 1993

I am deeply concerned about the reports of health problems afflicting a number of our Persian Gulf veterans. The legislation I am signing today, H.R. 2535, addresses those problems by authorizing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to treat them for any disease that may have resulted from their exposure to toxic substances or environmental hazards in the Gulf.

Since our troops returned home over 2 years ago, we have heard from many who are experiencing serious health problems for which modern medicine is having difficulty establishing a cause or a diagnosis.

With parades and a national outpouring of gratitude, we showed those brave men and women our appreciation for the sacrifices they made for all of us. Now we must stand by those who are suffering.

The symptoms these veterans experience have included, among other things, fatigue, painful muscles and joints, bleeding gums, skin rashes, short-term memory loss, and hair loss. With this legislation, the VA will have the authority to provide to these veterans both inpatient and outpatient care on a priority basis. Thus, we can help make certain that these veterans' health care needs are met as fully as possible while important research into their problems goes forward.

This legislation also provides for reimbursement to these veterans for any copayments they may have made to the VA for care that might have been necessary because of their exposures in the Persian Gulf.

In addition, this legislation extends the VAs authority to:

  • furnish Vietnam veterans with care that may be related to their exposure to agent orange;
  • furnish veterans who participated in nuclear weapons tests or in the occupation of Hiroshima or Nagasaki with care that may be related to their exposure to ionizing radiation;
  • provide women veterans with sexual trauma counseling; and,
  • maintain its regional office in the Philippines.

Over 650,000 service men and women from United States forces valiantly forced Sadam Hussein's armies from Kuwait, and earned the respect and admiration of people around the globe. They also earned our Nation's undying gratitude and support.


The White House, December 20, 1993.

NOTE: H.R. 2535, approved December 20, was assigned Public Law No. 103-210.

William J. Clinton, Statement on Signing Persian Gulf War Veterans Health Care Legislation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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