Clinton approves increased veterans benefits

Clinton approves increased veterans benefits

President Clinton Wednesday approved a 1.3 percent increase in veterans' disability payments, extended health care benefits for Gulf War veterans through 2001 and instructed federal agencies to establish an interagency board to deal with health problems related to military deployments.

In a Veterans Day ceremony, Clinton announced he had signed the Veterans Programs Enhancement Act (H.R. 4110), which gives disabled veterans the same 1.3 percent cost-of-living increase given to Social Security and veteran pension beneficiaries.

Clinton also issued a memorandum forming a board to reduce the risk of military health problems like Gulf War illnesses. The new Military and Veterans Health Coordinating Board will include representatives of the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services, the National Security Council, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Office of Management and Budget.

"Our experience with the Gulf War demonstrated that we were not adequately prepared to deal with the health consequences resulting from a large-scale combat deployment in the unique environment our soldiers faced," Clinton wrote in the memorandum. "The aftermath of this conflict underscored the need to improve significantly our ability to address post-deployment health problems."

Last week, Clinton signed the Veteran's Employment Opportunities Act (S. 1021). The act gives veterans a new redress procedure to follow when they believe federal managers have violated statutory rules designed to help veterans get federal jobs.