[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[November 11, 1998]
[Pages 2016-2017]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Signing the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act of 1998
November 11, 1998

    Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 4110, the ``Veterans 
Programs Enhancement Act of 1998.'' It is particularly appropriate on 
this Veterans Day to express the Nation's continued

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gratitude to our veterans by improving a wide range of veterans' 
benefits and programs. I am particularly pleased that H.R. 4110 includes 
so many Administration proposals.
    Most important, the bill provides a 1.3 percent increase in 
compensation payments to veterans with service-connected disabilities 
and in dependency and indemnity compensation to the survivors of those 
whose deaths were service-related. This increase, effective December 1, 
1998, reflects the same percentage increase in benefits that Social 
Security beneficiaries and veterans' pension recipients will receive. 
Approximately 2.3 million veterans and over 300,000 surviving spouses 
and children will benefit from this increase, which will ensure that the 
value of their well-deserved benefits is maintained.
    The bill also furthers the Nation's commitment to veterans who 
served in the Persian Gulf War. In particular, it extends existing 
authority for providing priority health care to Gulf War veterans 
through December 31, 2001. In addition, the bill bolsters efforts by the 
Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA), Defense, and Health and Human 
Services, with the help of independent scientific organizations, to 
study and treat these veterans' illnesses in a scientifically sound and 
effective manner. Furthermore, this legislation enhances outreach 
efforts to Gulf War veterans and broadens the public's access to the 
findings of federally sponsored research on the health consequences of 
service in the Persian Gulf.
    The bill contains a number of provisions to help veterans reach 
their educational and employment goals. For instance, the legislation 
expands veterans' options for entering on-the-job training programs and 
meeting requirements for Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits. In addition, the 
bill reinforces and expands an individual's right to return to a job 
after military service, as provided by the Uniformed Services Employment 
and Reemployment Rights Act.
    Other provisions revise veterans' pension and insurance programs. 
For example, the legislation increases the special pension paid to 
recipients of the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest military award. 
Additionally, the bill provides increased assistance to certain veterans 
with terminal illnesses by allowing them to receive a portion of their 
life insurance benefits as ``living benefits,'' helping them to meet 
medical and living expenses during their time of special need.
    The bill includes many other provisions to improve the quality and 
effectiveness of VA services to veterans. One provision permanently 
restructures and streamlines VA housing loan operations. Another 
provision contributes to high-quality VA health care by authorizing the 
Department to establish new educational benefits for certain categories 
of health care professionals to help attract and retain the best 
qualified employees.
    This Nation owes no greater debt of gratitude than to our veterans, 
particularly those who have suffered disability or who made the supreme 
sacrifice while defending our freedoms. Each Veterans Day, the Nation 
makes a special effort to give thanks for and to honor the sacrifices of 
veterans and their families. This comprehensive legislation further 
expresses our gratitude to these brave men and women, not just on 
Veterans Day, but every day. For that reason, I am privileged to sign 
H.R. 4110 into law.

                                                      William J. Clinton

The White House,

November 11, 1998.

Note: H.R. 4110, approved November 11, was assigned Public Law No. 105-