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A history of the American G.I. Bill
Photo courtesy:

By Joseph Rios

As November hits, so does Veterans Day. The holiday will fall on Nov. 11 and is a day to observe and honor military veterans. According to recent statistics from the U.S. Census, there are 18.2 million veterans in the United States.

All of those veterans are entitled to the G.I. Bill, or the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The bill is a law that provided benefits for returning World War II veterans.

The G.I. Bill came to life in 1944 by conservatives who were led by the American Legion, an organization made up of United States war veterans. The organization is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted a smaller program through the but when it passed, World War II veterans were given financial awards almost immediately. When World War I ended, the Bonus Army was created – a group of over 40,000 protestors. The Bonus Army included nearly 17,000 United States World War I veterans. The Bonus Army met in Washington, D.C. halfway through 1932 to demand cash for their service. The passing of the G.I. Bill helped the United States avoid the situation that happened in 1932.

The GI Bill provided World War II veterans with benefits like low-cost mortgages, low-interest loans to start a business or to start a farm, a year of unemployment compensations and payments of tuition and living expenses to go to high school, college or vocational school. The benefits were made available to all veterans who were on active duty during the war for at least 90 days. Veterans also could not receive G.I. Bill benefits if they were dishonorably discharged.

After 12 years of the G.I. Bill, there were 7.8 million veterans who used its benefits for educational purposes, while around 2.2 million others used the bill to go to a college or a university. There were around 5.6 million veterans who used the bill to attend some type of training program.

The G.I. Bill helped World War II veterans contribute to the country’s economy and provided better treatment than World War I veterans received after the war.

After 9/11, the Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008 helped provide even more benefits for veterans. The bill expanded educational benefits for military veterans who have served since September 11, 2001.

The G.I. Bill has been helpful for millions of people, but some say that the law was designed to coincide with Jim Crow laws. The programs the bill offered were directed by white officials. In suburbs in New York and the northern New Jersey suburbs, around 67,000 mortgages were provided from the G.I. Bill. However, less than 100 of those mortgages were taken out by veterans who aren’t white.

When 1946 hit, only 20% of 100,000 black veterans who had applied for educational benefits went to a college.

The University of Phoenix has been the largest recipient of G.I. Bill funds, followed by the University of Maryland, University of College – according to the G.I. Bill Comparison Tool. The Colorado Technical University ranks fifth on the list.





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