Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills Relating to the Welfare of Servicemen in Vietnam and Their Families.

November 03, 1966

I HAVE SIGNED into law four new measures that directly enhance the welfare of our men in uniform and their families.

When I visited our troops in South Vietnam last week, I told them that the American people and their President would never let them down. The morale of our men is high, for they know why they are there. Their determination is certain, for they know they will succeed.

On that day at Cam Ranh Bay in South Vietnam I again pledged for myself and for the American people that the determination of our men will be matched by renewed resolve and increased support at home.

The four measures I signed--each in its own particular way--renews that pledge.

The first of these bills, H.R. 13448, will help bridge the distance between our servicemen in Vietnam and their families at home. In addition to letters and cards, free mail will now cover recorded messages. This means that our men in Vietnam can send home, postage-free, the sound of their own voices--and in some small way help ease the burden of being apart through words of love and reassurance. The new law will also help speed newspapers and magazines to our men in Vietnam by available airlift, at lower surface mail rates.

The second of these bills, H.R. 17271, will help eliminate a tax inequity that exists among our fighting men in Vietnam. It will raise from $200 to $500 per month the combat pay Federal tax exemption for junior officers who bear the brunt of the fighting. Enlisted men are already exempt from Federal tax on the pay they receive while serving in the battle zone.

Another of these bills, H.R. 15748, authorizes a special 30-day leave for servicemen who voluntarily extend their tour of duty in South Vietnam for at least 6 months. This special leave is not chargeable to regular leave. All transportation costs to and from the place the serviceman elects to spend his leave will be paid for by the Government.

The remaining bill, H.R. 14347, liberalizes the compensation payments to children and eligible parents of veterans whose death is service-connected and streamlines the paperwork involved in applying for these and related benefits.

There can be no true measure of the heroic efforts of our servicemen in Vietnam. But at least we can assure them--through legislation such as the four I have signed--that everything we can do for them will be done.

Our men are the best trained and best equipped in our history. They are under the command of our most able military leaders. We are speeding their mail--more than 2 million pounds every month. They are receiving the fastest and most modern medical care in the world--the remarkable care that saves the lives of almost 90 percent of those wounded. And through the GI bill I signed earlier this year, our returning servicemen will be able to get a fresh start through education and training.

We will never fail our men in uniform. Their cause is just and our debt is great.

Note: The four bills were approved by the President on November 2, 1966. As enacted, they are:

H.R. 13448. Public Law 89-725 (80 Stat. 1154).
H.R. 17271. Public Law 89-739 (80 Stat. 1165).
H.R. 15748. Public Law 89-735 (80 Stat. 1163).
H.R. 14347. Public Law 89-730 (80 Stat. 1157).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bills Relating to the Welfare of Servicemen in Vietnam and Their Families. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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