November 17, 1981

Fiscal year 1981 was an important milestone in the history of America's all-volunteer armed forces. It demonstrated that, in a healthy, just society, men and women will serve their country freely, when given the proper encouragement, incentives, and respect.

All of the services met their recruiting goals in fiscal 1981; test scores improved dramatically; recruits included the highest proportion of high school graduates ever; and enlistment rates were up for all services.

Working with the Congress, we have begun to reverse the negative trends of the last few years in the standard of living of our military personnel. We have done this through more competitive pay, increased enlistment and reenlistment bonuses, and enhanced educational benefits. Just as important, we have fostered an attitude of increased appreciation and respect for the men and women who wear their country's uniform.

There is a new spirit of pride and patriotism alive in the land, and the impressive manpower record of the armed forces during fiscal year 1981 reflects this. Just as volunteer warriors won American independence more than two centuries ago, they stand as proud guardians of our freedom today. The success of this past year shows that the voluntary system can work and represents the best way to meet our manpower requirements in times of peace.