July 15, 1992 PRESIDENT BUSH ON VETERANS +quot;I renew my pledge today...to do all that's
July 15, 1992
PRESIDENT BUSH ON VETERANS
"I renew my pledge today...to do all that's humanly possible
to account for our comrades that are missing from the past
wars. As long as I am President, we will never forget those
POWs and MIAs. And another pledge -- as we move to a post-
Cold War defense force, we cannot forget to take care of our
military and civilian men and women who worked and fought so
hard to ensure that freedom and democracy would prevail. For
them, we will continue to work together to make sure that
American veterans receive quality health care that is second
-- President George Bush
Veterans Day 1991
o From his first days in office President Bush has
demonstrated a personal commitment to addressing concerns of
veterans. In the 1988 primary campaign he declared his
dedication to bringing veterans a stronger voice in
government. As President he appointed to his Cabinet our
Nation's first Secretary of Veterans Affairs.
o A veteran of World War II, President Bush understands the
contributions to freedom as well as the sacrifices made by
the men and women who have served this Nation's Armed
Forces. Accordingly, he is committed to maintaining
veterans' affairs as a top priority.
o The President's budgetary commitment to the Department has
increased every year since he took office. He has devoted
the necessary funding and resources to assure that veterans
receive the recognition, assistance, financial stability,
and benefits they earned through service.
o As a former Navy aviator, President Bush gained a first-hand
understanding of the sacrifices that America's fighting men
and women may have to make in combat. Fifty years ago
President Bush became the Nation's youngest naval aviator
when he postponed college to volunteer for military service
at the height of World War II. In 1944, while on a mission
over Chichi Jima, Lt. Bush's Avenger torpedo bomber was shot
down by Japanese anti-aircraft fire. Nonetheless, he
completed his mission and was awarded the Distinguished
Flying Cross for bravery. George Bush flew 58 combat
missions and made more than 100 carrier landings.
o Throughout his military service, President Bush witnessed
the price that must sometimes be paid to preserve peace and
freedom for our Nation and the world. No President commits
American troops lightly, and perhaps no one is better suited
to make such decisions than one who has served in combat.
President Bush knows first-hand the sacrifices that may be
required by his decisions and understands the degree of
national commitment that must be behind our troops if they
are sent in harm's way. George Bush also recognizes that
the Nation's commitment to our men and women in uniform must
not end when the fighting stops.
Commitment to Quality Health Care for Veterans
o President Bush has taken an active role in promoting quality
health care for all veterans through both increased funding
and creation of innovative programs. These programs
-- Proposed increases of nearly $1 billion in fiscal years
1991, 1992, and 1993 for the provision of direct health
care to veterans.
-- The establishment of new nursing homes and
domiciliaries, as well as noninstitutional programs
such as adult day health care and hospital-based home
-- The establishment of new outpatient, community-based,
and outreach clinics, bringing to 350 the total of such
clinics throughout the country.
-- An expanded number of Geriatric Research, Education,
and Clinical Centers, bringing to 15 the total number
of such centers serving our older veterans.
o The Bush Administration has developed a comprehensive plan
for construction of new hospitals and renovation of existing
facilities to ensure veterans greater access to the highest
quality health care. By the end of FY 1993, 65 major
construction projects will have been started during the Bush
The Importance of the Veterans Health Care System
o President Bush understands the importance of veterans
hospitals and is committed to maintaining the integrity of
quality care provided for our veterans. The veterans'
health care system plays a vital role throughout the U.S.:
-- More than half the Nation's practicing physicians have
received at least a portion of their training in
veterans' hospitals. Each year, veterans' hospitals
train approximately 100,000 health care professionals.
-- Veterans' hospitals are affiliated with more than 100
medical schools across the country.
-- Veterans' hospitals account for one in every 16
hospital beds in our Nation.
-- Veterans hospitals are leaders in geriatric care,
treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder, spinal-
cord injury care and research, and they have also had a
considerable impact in many other fields.
Accounting for POWs and MIAs
o As a matter of highest priority, the President has continued
to commit the resources of the United States Government to
return any American who still may be held captive, to do all
that is humanly possible to account for those still missing,
and to repatriate the remains of those who died while
serving our country in foreign lands.
o In February 1989, the President reappointed former Chairman
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John W. Vessey, Jr., as
his special emissary to Hanoi for POW/MIA Affairs to
continue the policies and priorities established during the
Reagan/Bush Administration. Specific results on accounting
for America's POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War are required
before further U.S. steps to lift the economic embargo on
Vietnam can occur. This policy ensures that the President's
POW/MIA objectives are protected and in the forefront of any
improvement in relations with Vietnam.
o In January 1992, the United States and Russia established a
joint commission to investigate the cases of Americans
unaccounted for from World War II, the Korean War, the
Vietnam War, and the Cold War period who may have been held
in the former Soviet Union. President Bush selected former
Ambassador to the Soviet Union Malcolm Toon to chair the
U.S. delegation to the Joint U.S.-Russia Commission which
began its investigations in late March 1992.
o Following recent statements by Russian President Boris
Yeltsin that American POWs/MIAs may have been held in the
former Soviet Union, President Bush immediately sent
Ambassador Toon to Moscow to examine newly opened Soviet
archives. The President is determined that the truth be
known, and any Americans who may have been held by the
former Soviet government must be accounted for as fully as
o In order to publicly reinforce America's commitment to our
POWs and MIAs, the President has signed legislation
requiring that the POW/MIA flag be displayed at the
Departments of State, Defense, and Veterans Affairs, at
other Federal Buildings including the White House, at the
Vietnam Veterans' Memorial, and in national cemeteries on
annual National POW/MIA Recognition Days.
Operation Desert Storm:
o A total of 49 military personnel were listed as missing in
action during the war. Before the war began, the Bush
Administration established a Joint Rescue Coordination
Center to place highest priority on rapidly locating our
missing. Twenty-three American POWs returned at the
conclusion of hostilities. Remains of 13 U.S. personnel
were recovered and returned to their families. The remains
of 13 additional servicemen have not been located, of whom
12 were reportedly killed over water, making recovery highly
o The Bush Administration has continued to work diligently to
account for American POW/MIAs from the Vietnam War. Since
January 1989, the remains of 57 servicemen have been
recovered from Vietnam and 20 from Laos.
o President Bush has established POW/MIA offices in Vietnam,
Laos, and Cambodia charged with the sole duty of accounting
as fully as possible for America's POW/MIAs. The offices are
engaged in field investigations, surveys, remains recovery,
and the investigation of live-sighting reports.
o The President is firmly committed to resolving the many
unanswered questions about the fate of Americans still
missing in Southeast Asia. He has fully committed the
resources of the Defense Department and his Administration
to returning any Americans who may still be held against
their will, achieving the fullest possible accounting for
the missing, and repatriating all remains of our veterans
who died serving our Nation during the Vietnam War.
o Bush Administration officials have established a dialogue
between the U.S. and North Korea. Increased priority has
been given to obtaining information on over 8,000 Americans
(389 of which were listed as POWs) through bilateral
channels and through the UN Command Military Armistice
Commission. Since 1954, 46 remains reported to be those of
Americans unaccounted for from the Korean War have been
returned to the U.S. from North Korea. All of these remains
have been returned since April of this year. The U.S.
continues to pursue the issue of missing U.S., Republic of
Korea, and UN servicemen with the North Koreans through
discussions on the establishment of a multilateral
commission. The Administration is committed to do
everything possible to account for our missing servicemen
from the Korean Conflict.
World War II:
o Approximately 78,750 Americans were unaccounted for after
World War II. The Bush Administration has continued to
support every effort to recover the remains of those
servicemen. As examples:
-- Since 1979 and as recently as July 1990, more than 110
sets of remains have been recovered from Papua New
Guinea and returned to Hawaii for identification.
-- Teams have also conducted excavations on Guam, Okinawa,
the Solomon Islands, Wake Island, and many other battle
Education, Job Training, and Benefits for Veterans
o The President signed into law a comprehensive benefits
package for veterans of the Persian Gulf War, including
readjustment counseling, dental care, guaranteed home loans,
insurance programs, and the extension of benefits to their
o In addition to existing government benefits, the Bush
Administration implemented a series of new employment and
educational programs designed to assist veterans. These
-- An expansion and strengthening of Veteran's Preference,
a foundation which ensures that veterans receive
priority for hiring within the Federal government.
-- An expansion of the Transition Assistance and Disabled
Transition Assistance Programs that has resulted in
increased cooperation between the Department of
Veterans Affairs and the Department of Labor in helping
newly discharged veterans find employment.
-- An expansion of previously enacted educational benefits
to include vocational, technical, correspondence, and
apprenticeship training for reservists.
-- The establishment of a new health care education
program for service members in the Ready Reserve.
-- An increase in the Montgomery G.I. Bill Active Duty
basic education and training rates for Persian Gulf
veterans from October 1991 through September 1993.
o The Bush Administration is committed to making burial in a
national cemetery a realistic option for all veterans and
-- Construct 10 additional national cemeteries in areas of
the country that are currently underserved.
-- Acquire land through purchase or donation to increase
burial capacity of existing cemeteries scheduled to
close by 2020.
-- Make greater use of the cost-sharing opportunities
through grants for State veterans cemeteries.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank