The provisions of the GI Bill were extremely costly and ensured that hospital facilities were strengthened, provided educational and training opportunities, loans for aid in buying or building houses and purchasing farms or business properties.
The GI Bill also provided assistance in obtaining employment through the US Employment Service and readjustment allowances while veterans were finding employment. The original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956 but the success of the 1944 G.I. Bill prompted the US government to offer similar measures to later generations of veterans including those who served in the Korean War, the Vietnam War and those who served in the armed forces Post 9/11.
Facts about GI Bill
When he signed the new law President Truman stated that it gave "...emphatic notice to the men and women in our armed forces that the American people do not intend to let them down..."
The Great Depression came to end when economic output in America surged and unemployment fell as the United States entered WW2. Whilst WW2 was being fought, the Department of Labor estimated that 15 million men and women who had been serving in the armed forces would be unemployed.
To reduce the possibility of a new post-war depression the National Resources Planning Board was established and by June 1943 had made recommendations for a series of programs to address the options for improved education and training for returning veterans.
The lessons learned following the post-war events of the Great War were heeded. Many remembered the Bonus Army March of 1932 when WW1 veterans protested for years they had not been rewarded. The GI Bill was therefore passed into law to prevent a repetition of such demonstrations.
The purpose of the 1944 law was to provide immediate help for retuning veterans from WW2. The recommendations for the bill were considered by the Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on World War Veterans' Legislation
Amongst those credited with writing the legislation were Warren Atherton, a leader of the American Legion, often referred to as the "father of the G.I. Bill". Congresswoman Edith Nourse Rogers who also helped to write and who co-sponsor the legislation, was referred to as the "mother of the G.I. Bill".
The bill was was introduced to the House on March 13, 1944 by Senator Clark of Missouri and passed by Congress in the spring of 1944. The benefits offered under the original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956.
The "GI Bill of Rights" was signed by President Roosevelt on June 22, 1944 who declared that the law provided "a well-rounded program of special veterans' benefits". The President also emphasized that members of our armed forces 'have been compelled to make greater economic sacrifice and every other kind of sacrifice than the rest of us, and are entitled to definite action to help take care of their special problems."
The provisions of the provided assistance in obtaining jobs through the US Employment Service and readjustment allowances were provided for veterans finding employment. The law also provided training and educational opportunities, loans for buying or building homes or purchasing farms or business properties.
Jack Cejnar, an American Legion publicist, called the law "GI Bill of Rights" as it offered Federal aid to help WW2 veterans - and the name stuck
Eligibility for the benefits in the act were based on military or naval service of at least 90 days at any time on or after September 16, 1940, when the Selective Training and Service Act had taken effect.
The first title of the Act addressed Hospitalization, Rehabilitation, Claims, and Procedures and authorized an appropriation of $500 million for constructing additional hospital facilities for WW2 veterans.
The law placed great importance on education as so many of those who served in WW2 had lost out on educational opportunities. The education of veterans who were not more than 25 years of age when they entered the service, were automatically deemed that their education had been prevented or interrupted.
Education: All tuition and other fees, including cost of books, supplies, or equipment, up to $500 for a school year, were to be paid by the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, for up to three years. A subsistence allowance of $50 a month or $75 if he had one or more dependents was also paid. The subsistence allowance was reduced for those undertaking apprentice training or part time studies.
By 1956, approximately 2.2 million WW2 veterans had used the education benefits to enable them to attend colleges or universities, and an additional 5.6 million veterans used the benefits to undertake training programs. In the peak year of 1947, WW2 Veterans accounted for 49% of college admissions.
Under the 1944 Servicemen's Readjustment Act it is estimated that 3,400,000 received on job training, 3,500,000 received school education and 2,300,000 attended universities or colleges. The number of degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled between 1940 - 1950
Title III of the act addressed Loans for the Purchase or Construction of Homes, Farms, and Business Property. The act did not authorize direct Government loans but provided that the Government, through the Administrator of Veterans Affairs, would guarantee up to 50% (but not more than $2,000 in all) of any approved loan obtained by the veteran for purchasing or building a home, purchasing a farm or farm equipment, or acquiring business property.
By the end of the duration of the act in 1956, 4.3 million home loans had been guaranteed, with a total face value of $33 billion. WW2 veterans were responsible for buying 20% of all new homes built after the war.
Title IV of the act addressed the Employment of Veterans, its purpose of was to assure "an effective job counseling and employment placement service for veterans".
Title V of the act addressed Readjustment Allowances During Unemployment which became effective on September 4, 1944, and ended five years after the end of the war. An allowance of $20 was provided for a week of total unemployment. For part time unemployment the allowance was $20 minus wages in excess of $3 in a week. The duration of allowances depended upon the length of the claimant's military service.
The results of the 1944 law had positive effects across the nation's economy. The law avoided a new depression and provided unequaled prosperity for a generation.
The original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956 but was extended when the United States were engaged in military conflicts. Nearly 2.3 million veterans participated in the program during the Korean War era and more than 8 million veterans participated during the Vietnam War era.
In 1984, Congressman Gillespie V. "Sonny" Montgomery revamped the GI Bill, which has been since referred to as the "Montgomery GI Bill".
Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008: The bill was updated again in 2008 giving Veterans with active duty service on, or after, Sept. 11 2001, a living allowance and providing enhanced educational benefits with the ability to transfer unused educational benefits to spouses or children
In December 2010 Congress passed the Post-9/11 Veterans Education Assistance Improvements Act of 2010 which expanded eligibility to members of the National Guard
The GI Bill is one of the most important pieces of legislation in the United States.
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