Today, President Bush commemorated Veterans Day with a ceremony at
Arlington National Cemetery to honor the veterans of our Nation's Armed
America takes great pride in the achievements of the men and women who have worn the uniform of the United States. Americans owe
veterans and those on the front lines of freedom a great debt of
gratitude. They have removed threats to America and our friends
throughout our Nation's history. We mourn every American who has died
in the line of duty.
Today, the President also signed into law two bills to support our
veterans and their families.
H.R. 3365, the Military Family Tax Relief Act of 2003, provides tax
relief and other benefits to members of the armed services and their
H.R. 1516, the National Cemetery Expansion Act of 2003 establishes,
within four years, six new national cemeteries in southeastern
Pennsylvania; Birmingham, Alabama; Jacksonville, Florida; Bakersfield,
California; Greenville/Columbia, South Carolina; and, Sarasota,
President Bush has proposed record levels of support for America's
veterans. Since 2001, the President has increased VA healthcare
funding by more than 30-percent, and the proposed FY 2004 budget is the
largest annual discretionary increase for the Department of Veterans
Affairs ever requested by a President.
Administration Actions in Support of America's Veterans
Veterans and military retirees have made tremendous sacrifices for
our Nation, and President Bush believes America must honor its
commitments to our veterans. Because of the President's leadership,
the VA is more responsive to veteran needs, and has improved health
care, medical treatment, and claims processing times. In recognition
of the tremendous sacrifices veterans and their families make, last
year the President also signed into law special benefits to existing
military retirees who are Purple Heart recipients or were seriously
injured under combat conditions, and he is pleased to see that Congress
is acting this year to address the issue of concurrent receipt for
military retirees in a fair and responsible manner.
Improving Access to Health Care for Veterans
President Bush has provided America's veterans with unprecedented
medical care budget increases -- more in his first two years in office
than in the period from 1995-2000. Since 2001, the President has
increased VA health care funding by more than 30-percent.
The President's record requests have enabled VA to improve on its
core medical mission to provide high-quality health care to veterans
with service-related disabilities, with low incomes, and with special
Under the President's leadership, VA will care for 1.4 million more
veterans in 2004 than in 2000, and has opened 194 new community-based
clinics to be more responsive to veterans' needs.
The Bush Administration took action last summer to provide medicine
prescribed by private physicians to some veterans who had been waiting
more than 30 days for an appointment.
The President's FY 2004 budget will enable VA to eliminate the
waiting list by February 2004.
More Responsive to Veterans
Since 2001, the average time to process a disability claim has been
reduced by 30 percent, and the inventory of disability claims has been
reduced from a peak of 432,000 to 253,000. VA has also established
special teams to focus on long-overdue cases and has already cut by
half the number of cases pending for more than 6 months.
Under the Bush Administration, the Department of Defense and the VA
have developed a proactive partnership to work together benefiting
veterans, military beneficiaries, and taxpayers. The VA-DoD Joint
Executive Council was formed to further improve quality and access for
health care and to bring about a seamless transition for new veterans
moving from military to civilian status.
Fulfilling our Nation's Promise
Some 1,800 veterans die every day. Most of these are World War II
and Korea veterans. The President's budget supports fulfilling our
Nation's promise to provide veterans with a dignified final resting
The families of veterans and military retirees have also made
tremendous sacrifices. Surviving spouses, children, and some parents
of veterans who are either killed in action or die of service-related
causes may receive Dependency and Indemnity Compensation.
Dependents' educational assistance is available to spouses who have
not remarried and children of veterans who are either killed in
action or die of service-related disabilities.