Statement on Signing the Veterans' Compensation and Program Improvements Amendments of 1984

March 2, 1984

I am very pleased to sign S. 1388, the Veterans' Compensation and Program Improvements Amendments of 1984. This bill will provide a 3.5-percent cost-of-living increase in the monthly compensation checks of some 2.3 million veterans with service-connected disabilities. It will also provide the same percentage cost-of-living increase to approximately 319,000 widows and children of veterans whose deaths were service-connected. These increases will be effective on April 1, 1984.

Compensation benefits to our disabled veterans and their survivors are a reflection of the deep gratitude of all Americans to those men and women who suffered injuries or died in the service of their country. This legislation demonstrates the Nation's continuing commitment and support for these men and women, and their survivors.

S. 1388 will also benefit our veterans in many other ways. For instance, this legislation increases the maximum rate of disability compensation payable to hearing-impaired blinded veterans and liberalizes eligibility for compensation of certain other groups. It improves the Veterans Administration's education, home loan, and medical construction programs, in a number of respects. It extends the State veterans cemeteries grant program for 5 years. And, finally, it increases the membership of the Board of Veterans Appeals in order to improve timeliness in processing appeals from veterans.

I am gratified that the 3.5-percent increase in compensation benefits, as well as other provisions contained in S. 1388 that I proposed in my fiscal year 1984 budget, will now become a reality.

Chairman Alan Simpson and Chairman Sonny Montgomery and the other members of the Senate and House Veterans' Affairs Committees are to be commended for their skillful and dedicated stewardship of this bill.

Note: As enacted, S. 1388 is Public Law 98 - 223, approved March 2.