On June 22, 1944, the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 became a law, commonly known as the G.I. Bill of Rights.
Legion Family Members, Friends and Veterans:
June 22, 2014 is the 70th anniversary of the signing of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill. This massive legislative achievement of The American Legion was not simply a postwar benefit to veterans and their families. It changed the course of U.S. history and stimulated a global economy.
The GI Bill has been described as the most significant legislation passed by Congress in the 20th century. As the original proposal was debated, many elected officials and economists feared that the promise of free college education for veterans would break the Treasury. They worried that $20 a week in unemployment payments for 52 weeks after discharge from service would ruin our war-weary country. There was concern that America’s veterans would simply take refuge in their benefits and ultimately do little to turn the engines of progress. All those concerns were proven wrong.
For every federal dollar invested in the GI Bill, an estimated $7 was returned to the economy. Tens of millions have been educated as a benefit of their military service over the last seven decades. Home ownership became possible for middle-class American veterans, giving rise to a construction boom that continued for more than a half-century. The GI Bill democratized higher education across America and made it available for generations yet to be born. As a tool of military recruitment, the benefit is unparalleled and helped enable our nation to stand up an all-volunteer force.
It all amounted to a better, more prosperous America.
And the GI Bill’s impact continues today.
While we pause to reflect on the anniversary — the GI Bill’s legacy continues to unfold for millions who are now returning to the civilian ranks, having come home from war to use the Post 9/11 GI Bill and fuel a new recovery. The updated benefit, which continues to improve with active involvement and support from The American Legion, is a living document that changes to best meet the needs of today’s veterans.
So, as we look back today, we also look forward to the continued effectiveness of the GI Bill and honor the vision that made it a reality. Thanks to that vision, our nation’s veterans have the opportunity today to do what their World War II predecessors did after the original bill was passed.
In 2008, Congress passed an updated version of the G.I. Bill, commonly known as the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of service after September 10, 2001. And today ,President Obama signed an Executive Order to make sure that those who rely on the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill have the information they need to make informed decisions about their education options, and are protected from aggressive and deceptive targeting by schools and other educational institutions.
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