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With the attention of the Nation rightly focused on the welfare of men and women returning from service in the armed forces and the emphasis placed on benefits provided for them through Congressional action, we must not let our interest flag in discharging our obligations to the increasing thousands among our civilian population who through accident, disease, or congenital conditions are unable to hold a place in the ranks of the American working force. Even in the midst of war their condition calls to us for renewed effort to bring about their restoration that they, too, may maintain their self-respect through self-supporting work.

On June 2, our Nation-wide program for the vocational rehabilitation of such disabled men and women will have been in operation a quarter of a century. Less than two years ago, the Congress expanded this program by amending the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1920. The new law-the Barden-LaFollette Act, passed in 1943-makes it possible for the Federal and State Governments, working as a team, to bring to the mentally disabled and the blind and all other groups of the disabled, the many services necessary to make them employable, including physical restoration, vocational training and placement in suitable employment.

Over the past twenty-five years it has been demonstrated that this program for the restoration of disabled men and women is paying dividends, not only in humanitarian terms but in dollars and cents. Thousands of men and women annually apply to the rehabilitation service for help. Because of disabilities they are able to contribute little to the national income. Many of them are forced to accept public aid. Refitted for work, they begin to pay their own way. No longer then are they tax consumers; they are taxpayers.

That we may not fail to discharge our obligation to help every man and woman who needs vocational rehabilitation services in order to become self-supporting, it appears appropriate at this time that I should urge the able-bodied citizenry of the United States to unite in a concerted effort to bring about wider knowledge and use of the services for physical and mental restoration of the handicapped provided under the Barden-LaFollette Act, which applies to all civilian disabled.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, HARRY S. TRUMAN, President of the United States of America, do hereby declare the week beginning June 2, 1945, as National Rehabilitation Week.

And I urge all churches, educational institutions, health and welfare services, civic organizations, chambers of commerce, boards of trade, industry, labor, public-spirited citizens, and the radio and press throughout the United States to observe National Rehabilitation Week, to the end that handicapped men and women throughout our Nation may be located and advised of the benefits to which they may be entitled.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this 5th day of May in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-five, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and sixty-ninth. [SEAL]


By the President:

Acting Secretary of State.