Statement by the President: Signing of the "Veterans Claims Assistance Act of 2000" (11/9/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                            November 9, 2000

                        STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT

     Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 4864, the "Veterans Claims
Assistance Act of 2000."  The Act reaffirms and clarifies the duty of the
Secretary of Veterans Affairs to assist claimants in developing evidence
pertinent to their claims for VA benefits.  It eliminates the previous
requirement that a claim be well-grounded before VA?s duty to assist
arises.  The Act requires the Secretary to make reasonable efforts to
assist a claimant in obtaining evidence to substantiate his or her claim
unless it is clear that no reasonable possibility exists that the
Secretary?s assistance would aid in substan-tiating the claim.  As under
current law, the Secretary must consider the entire record of evidence, and
when there is an approximate balance of positive and negative evidence
regarding an issue material to the determination of a matter, the Secretary
must give the benefit of the doubt to the claimant.

     Veterans seeking benefits from this Government are deserving of all
reasonable assistance that VA has to offer.  The benefits administered by
the Secretary are a means by which the Nation expresses its profound
gratitude for the many sacrifices our veterans have made to protect and
defend our freedom.  Veterans Day, a day set aside to honor all veterans,
is an especially appropriate time for us to ensure that we will continue to
pay our debts to these men and women.  This Act demonstrates to veterans
and to all those currently serving in our military and to those who may
serve in the future, that America honors its commitments to those who have
served.  I am very pleased to approve this new law.

                              WILLIAM J. CLINTON

    November 9, 2000.

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