1614 49 Stat. 620. 42 USC 1305.
81 ^*^*' 106' 42 usV3002 "°te.
29 USC 62°i^' note.
PROCLAMATION 3833-MAR. 1, 1968
We have not always recognized the debt we owe them. I t was only three decades ago, with the passage of the original Social Security Act in President Roosevelt's administration, that we first began to respond effectively to our continuing national obligation. In recent years we have begun to make up this moral deficit: —This year 24 million older Americans will receive the highest level of Social Security benefits in the history of the program— thanks to the 13 percent increase in benefits we passed last year. Ninety percent of our citizens aged 65 and over are now eligible for retirement benefits under Social Security. Millions of older people have been lifted out of conditions of poverty by increased Social Security benefits. Nearly every one of the 78 million wage earners working today has a future retirement protected by Social Security. —Through Medicare, adopted in 1965, we have at last guaranteed adequate health care to our older citizens—a minimal standard of civilization and decency which required 30 years to achieve. More than 19 million older iVmericans are now covered by Medicare. During its first year of operation—in fiscal 1967—it paid hospital bills for over 4 million people, and doctor bills for more than 7 million. And it is now providing home health services and other assistance for half a million more. —Since 1963, we have increased the quality and quantity of housing for our senior citizens. Today the Federal commitment in special housing programs for older citizens totals some $3 billion. —Under the Older Americans Act, passed in 1967, we have increased educational, recreational, and health services. Today that program includes 650 individual local projects reaching older people in their home communities across the land. —Demonstration projects are showing us how to make important advances in nutrition, education, transportation and leisure time activities. We are steadily increasing the number of professionally trained individuals who work with and for the elderly. —We are increasing opportunities for our elder citizens to make use of their talents and experience. Today older Americans serve with great distinction in the VI S T A, SCORE, the Foster Grandparent Program, the Peace Corps, and in many community projects and programs of voluntary agencies. —In 1967 we enacted long-overdue legislation which prohibits discrimination because of age in employment. This is an extraordinary record of achievement in so short a time. I am proud of it, as every American should be. But we are still far from the day when we can be satisfied with our achievements. Our goal must be to give each man and woman the opportunity to make his years of retirement also years of accomplishment and meaning, good health and economic security. Perhaps the greatest need of age- is the need to know that one's contributions are still valued. I n a society where youth is so highly prized, older men and women need to know that their wisdom and experience are also important to their fellow citizens. Their contributions are one of our nation's most valuable assets—a resource that should be celebrated by every generation of Americans.