THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT
Today I have signed into law S. 1402, the "Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2000." S. 1402 expresses the Nation's continued gratitude to our veterans by reauthorizing and making improvements to a wide range of veterans' benefits and programs.
I am pleased that the Congress has included in S. 1402 significant benefit increases and other enhancements to the All-Volunteer Force Educational Assistance Program, which is commonly known as the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB). This program helps the men and women who have bravely served their country in the Armed Forces to adjust to civilian life. In addition, it is a major tool that the Armed Forces use to recruit highly qualified servicemembers. This Act increases the basic MGIB benefit for a 3-year period of service to $650 monthly and the rate for a 2-year period of service to $528 monthly. These rates represent the single largest benefit increase in MGIB's 15-year history and are similar to the levels of increase the Vice President and I proposed earlier this year.
This legislation also includes increases for education allowances for the survivors and dependents of veterans, resulting in a $588 monthly benefit for a full-time student. Further, this Act will protect these survivors' and dependents' benefits against inflation by providing annual cost-of-living adjustments like those adjustments that already apply to veterans' education benefits.
Beyond the significant enhancements to education assistance, this legislation makes several important changes to disability compensation benefits. Among them are provisions that will extend monthly disability allowances, vocational training, and health care to women Vietnam veterans' children who are born with certain medical conditions. These women veterans made huge sacrifices to protect our freedom, and it is only just that their children with resulting medical conditions be compensated. Similar benefits are currently afforded to such children who were born with spina bifida, but this Act will expand benefits beyond that one condition.
This legislation also enhances benefits for Filipino veterans of World War II who currently receive disability compensation and burial benefits at a rate equal to one-half the rate that U.S. veterans receive. It reinforces the long-overdue step taken by the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act, 2001, that authorizes the payment of these benefits at the full rate to Filipino veterans who have become U.S. citizens or are permanent residents and reside in the United States. In addition, this Act extends to these veterans the eligibility for burial in national cemeteries.
These benefits are just a few examples of the effects that this comprehensive bill will have on improving benefits and services for our veterans. On behalf of a grateful Nation, I am pleased to sign S. 1402. We are indebted to our veterans for the contributions that they have made to protect our security and well-being.
WILLIAM J. CLINTON
THE WHITE HOUSE, November 1, 2000.
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