THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
I have signed into law today three veterans-related bills that will ensure that veterans benefits keep pace with inflation, improve the veterans health care system, and expand other veterans programs and benefits.
The first bill -- H.R. 3458, the Veterans' Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 1996 -- authorizes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) on December 1, 1996, for recipients of veterans' disability compensation, Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC), and clothing allowances. The COLA, identical to the one that Social Security recipients will receive on January 1, 1997, will go to about 2.3 million veterans with disabilities who receive disability compensation benefits; over 300,000 individuals who receive DIC as the surviving spouses and children of service members who died in service and veterans whose deaths were service-connected; and veterans who receive clothing allowances because they wear or use prosthetic or orthopedic appliances.
The second bill -- H.R. 3118, the Veterans' Health Care Eligibility Reform Act of 1996 -- includes many elements of the proposal that the National Performance Review, led by Vice President Gore, recommended to establish a modern, integrated health care system that will improve access to, and care for, the Nation?s veterans. The bill, for instance, authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to furnish comprehensive medical services to all veterans, expanding the array of services that it now provides. Eligibility reform has been a high priority of veterans for many years, and I am pleased that we finally could enact it.
Finally, the third bill -- S. 1711, the Veterans' Benefits Improvements Act of 1996 -- expands and extends numerous veterans education, housing, life insurance, and employment and training benefits.