Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills in Aid of Members of the Armed Forces.

January 02, 1968

WHEN I visited our fighting men in Southeast Asia just a week ago, I carried one abiding message to them. I assured them the American people and their President honor and value their service in freedom's cause.

In foxhole and flight line, on carrier decks and jungle trails, those brave and committed men guard our security with their lives.

No words of ours--and no actions--can match or measure their sacrifice.

But in the ways that are open to us, this Nation can show its gratitude.

Recently, the Congress passed--and I signed into law--the fifth military pay act in 5 years. With those, basic military pay has been raised more than 40 percent.

Today I sign four other measures designed in modest ways to lighten the load of the soldier and his family. Three are especially tailored to the needs of men who serve in combat areas.

As a result of this new legislation:

--No fighting man will lose the annual leave time he earns in Vietnam. The current 60-day limit for accrued leave is now expanded to 90 days for those in battle areas.

--Our servicemen in combat zones can continue to enjoy their traditional privilege of mailing gifts costing up to $50 duty free.

--The families of men missing in action will have twice as much time--up to a year, or even more--to store their household goods at Government expense.

--A serviceman with a trailer home will receive a fair allowance for its commercial shipment--an increase from 51 cents to 74 cents per mile--when he is reassigned to a new station.

These are small measures. But they reflect a large concern for America's men-at-arms.

In another quiet way, they say: America does not forget.

Note: As enacted, the bills (H.R. 12961, 1141, 1341, and 3982) are Public Laws 90-236, 90-240, 90-245, and 90-246 (81 Stat. 764, 776, and 782).

For the President's remarks upon signing the military pay bill, see 1967 volume, this series, Book II, Item 546.

The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills in Aid of Members of the Armed Forces. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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