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Statement on Signing a Veterans Disability and Death Pension Bill.

December 06, 1973

FOUR times in this century, America has sent her finest men into military combat, and four times the country has been well served. In equal measure, all of us now have a continuing duty to serve those who have returned to our shores and the families of those who have been lost.

This Administration has actively supported legislation which would expand benefits for veterans, including greater educational benefits, greater medical benefits, and larger pensions for older veterans.

Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 9474, which will provide increased pensions and related benefits for over 2 million veterans, veterans' widows, and surviving children and parents. In this legislation the Administration and the Congress have recognized that these beneficiaries need greater assistance in their struggle to match limited incomes to the rising cost of living.

While this bill is a step in the right direction, more can be done--and should be done. As I mentioned in my message to the Congress on national legislative goals on September 10, 1973, full reform of the Veterans Administration pension program is necessary. The program is currently fraught with inconsistencies, inequities, and anomalies which cannot be corrected unless the entire framework of the program is restructured.

This Administration regards the following principles as vital to a realistic and equitable VA pension program:

--VA pensioners should have some regularized way of receiving cost-of-living adjustments in VA pension payments tied to the automatic increases now available to social security recipients.

---The VA pension program should be structured to assure that additional income flows to the neediest pensioners. This objective would involve raising VA payments to those pensioners who receive less total income than adult welfare recipients under recent amendments to the Social Security Act. In addition, a family's total income should be considered in determining the amount of pension needed.

--Veterans and widows should be treated equally with regard to income and pension payments.

I am pleased that these concepts have received a sympathetic hearing by the Veterans' Affairs Committees of the Congress. Now it is important that we move on together in the development of specific proposals so that full pension reform can be enacted early in the next session of the Congress.

Note: The President signed the bill in a ceremony in the Oval Office at the White House.

As enacted, H.R. 9474 is Public Law 93-177 (87 Stat. 694).

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing a Veterans Disability and Death Pension Bill. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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