VA Increases Payments to Medal of Honor Recipients

WASHINGTON (Oct. 8, 2003) - Monthly federal payments to 136 living
recipients of the Medal of Honor are rising 67 percent this month.

Since at least World War I, the federal government's agency for veterans -
now the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) - has paid a monthly stipend to
holders of the military's highest decoration for combat valor. Under the
new rates, the payments will rise from $600 monthly to $1,000 monthly.

"This increase reflects in small part the thanks of President Bush and a
grateful nation for the uncommon valor and bravery of these veterans," said
VA Secretary Anthony J. Principi. "They are living examples of sacrifice,
love of country and dedication to duty."

The increase was authorized by the Veterans Benefits Act of 2002 (Public Law
107-330), which also set up a formula for future increases in the Medal of
Honor stipend based on the annual rate of inflation.

Previously, each increase in the Medal of Honor stipend required a specific
act of Congress. The rate went from $10 in 1916 to $100 in 1961, $200 in
1979, $400 in 1993 and $600 in 1998.

The new law also provides for a retroactive payment of stipends to cover the
period between the act of valor and the awarding of the Medal of Honor. For
those previously non-covered months or years, the payment will be based on
the rate in effect at the time of the act of valor.

Adjustment checks covering the month of September and any retroactive
payments due will be released to Medal of Honor recipients this month. The
new rate will be reflected in regular monthly payments starting Nov. 1.

VA supported legislation for the rate increase, inflation adjustments and
retroactive payments. The benefits will total approximately $6.1 million
through fiscal year 2012.