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On This Date: FDR Signed the GI Bill Into Law

by Countable | Updated on 6.22.18

On this date in 1944 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 into law. Many people know it best as the GI Bill of Rights, offering a variety of benefits to veterans to help them readjust to civilian life after their World War II service. Education and training, medical care, unemployment pay, and guarantees on loans for homes, businesses, and farms were all included under the services the country was now expected to give it’s veterans and honorably discharged service members. image

What benefits were included?

Perhaps the most commonly known GI Bill benefit involves higher education. It directly paid for up to $500 to cover tuition, books, or fees for veterans enrolled full-time at a college or university as long as they hadn’t been dishonorably discharged from the military. To get these benefits, veterans had to apply for them within two years after being discharged and maintain satisfactory progress at the academic institution. Veterans could also receive a $70 dollar monthly “maintenance allowance” if they had no dependents to pay for necessities, which rose to $75 if they had a dependent. image

Veterans were also able to get their loans to buy homes, farms, or businesses guaranteed in full or in part depending on the loan. The federal government would guarantee half of the loan up to $2,000 and if the borrower applied to a federal agency they could get an additional loan of up to $2,000 with a 20 percent guarantee. Homebuyers were able to to get low interest loans (under 4 percent for the first loan) with zero down payment, and loan terms were structured to favor new construction compared to what was offered for purchases of existing homes.

In terms of healthcare, the GI Bill provided for subsidized care at government facilities for veterans with service-connected injuries and also other health issues. Eligible veterans could also receive a disability allowance of up to $265 monthly based on the extent of their disability.The GI Bill also provided discharged servicemembers with where known as “readjustment allowances” that worked in the same way as unemployment pay. Veterans were able to receive $20 a week for up to 52 weeks if they were completely unemployed, and $20 minus their wages plus $3 if they were partially employed.

Why did this come up after WWII?

The GI Bill was written for U.S. military veterans after the end of WWII so as to avoid the controversies and confusion that faced WWI veterans during the 1920s and ‘30s. Lawmakers were particularly eager to avoid a repeat of the Bonus Army incident of 1932, where 43,000 marchers — including 17,000 WWI veterans — marched on Washington, D.C. and set up camp, demanding the veterans be paid bonuses they were due for their service.

After police killed two veterans at an encampment they had cleared, the U.S. Army was sent in and dispersed the veterans and their supporters.Not only were the inequities faced by WWI veterans on the minds of Congress, but many were concerned by reports that as many as 15 million Americans could be unemployed after WWII ended and the military demobilized. The benefits proposed by the GI Bill were seen as a genuine attempt to stave off social and economic instability.

At first, President Roosevelt wanted to means-test the benefits — meaning that only veterans under a certain income level would receive benefits — but that was ultimately left out of the bill. Another sticking point in Congress was the unemployment benefits, as some viewed them as being generous enough that they might create a disincentive to look for work.Despite the misgivings that some members of Congress may have had, there were no votes against the legislation in either the House or Senate — though quite a few lawmakers chose to vote present or not vote rather than oppose the GI Bill. When President Roosevelt signed this bill into law little over two weeks had passed since the Allies invaded Normandy on D-Day, and there were still another 15 months of fighting to go before the war’s conclusion. image

Did it work out?

Looking back, many of the concerns about the GI Bill proved to be ill-founded. Unemployment pay proved to be relatively unpopular among returning veterans, as many found jobs or took advantage of the GI Bill’s education benefits. In 1947, veterans alone accounted for 49 percent of all college admissions, and by 1956 there were 7.8 million of the 16 million WWII veterans who had participated in an education or training program.

This caused the number of degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities to more than double from 1940 to 1950. Many returning veterans also took advantage of the VA-backed home loans as 4.3 million were granted by 1955 with a total value of $33 billion. One out of every five new homes built after the war’s end was purchased by a veteran.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: FDR Library / Public Domain)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(39)
  • Timnyc
    06/22/2017
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    That's when Republican and Democratic law makers had the interest of there country first and the citizens of the United States were a priority. The President was working for the people.People had differences but put country first not special interest.It would do us a great service to look in the rearview mirror and remember where we came from...

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  • Mark
    06/23/2018
    ···

    Time warp to back in the day when Democrats didn’t hate me, you, themselves and or the good ole USA.

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  • Norm
    06/22/2017
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    FDR was on the right path to represent our veteran's in this way. Some of the warriors long ago to current warriors have always suffered from PTSD, we just didn't have a name for it, but we do now. While I don't believe in war for my own reasons, I believe our warriors deserve our very best, especially the wounded in all it's forms. If you have ever looked into the eyes of a wounded warrior like I have, and don't weep for them in the privacy of your own home at the very least, you have missed an opportunity for a deep connection with them.

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  • SneakyPete
    06/23/2018
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    GI BILLS — THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE I’M All in for ALL ELIGIBLE veterans to participate in his OR her appropriate GI BILL BENEFITS. While the GI BILLs generally dealt with educational benefit, there are many other benefits to eligible veterans and their families which can be found at the VA website below. I urge ALL veterans, Active, Reserves, or National Guard to participate in those programs they’ve earned the right to based on their service to the nation. Vietnam ERA GI BILL to qualify, you must have served: Veterans who served on active duty between January 31, 1955 and January 1, 1977 are eligible for the benefits of the Vietnam Era GI Bill. The benefit expired in 1977; however, veterans can still convert their benefit to the Chapter 30 Montgomery GI Bill benefit if the veteran has remaining entitlements under Chapter 34 on December 31, 1989. Post-9/11 GI Bill The Post 9/11 GI Bill is an educational assistance program enacted by Congress for individuals with active duty service after September 10, 2001. The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides up to 36 months of education benefits. To qualify, you must have served: • 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001; OR • 30 continuous days after September 10, 2001, and be discharged due to a service-connected disability. 6*22*18 SEE: https://www.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-details/4731 SEE: https://benefits.va.gov/benefits/

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  • OlderNWiser
    06/22/2017
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    This president,was imperfect, but Eleanor Roosevelt encouraged him to care about and for American citizens. This shows concern for veterans who served us and sacrifice so much, shows admiration for education which they both had, and the wealthy, this couple showed more concerned for American people generally been for their own wealth and the wealth of their contemporaries. What a contrast to this president and cabinet! Internment was an egregious racist error to warn us against demonizing Muslim and Arab-Americans, but the majority of his actions were for the welfare of the people. From a wheelchair.

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  • Gaynell
    06/23/2017
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    he was the best president of all time. president Rosevelt was concerned with the well fare of his citizens. Amen

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  • Dave.Land
    06/23/2017
    ···

    The G.I. Bill is as close as this country has ever come to a guaranteed minimum income. Its huge successes in terms of education and home ownership and general prosperity are ample evidence that we should consider a national guaranteed minimum income right now, instead of pretending that the coal jobs are going to come back. Of course, with a Congress that can't cut benefits fast enough to satisfy their billionaire masters, it's not going to happen until we completely clean House… And Senate.

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  • burrkitty
    06/23/2018
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    Investing in education is always the right choice for a democracy. Education is the foundation of scientific and evidence based policies that support a modern multi-cultural society.

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  • James
    06/23/2018
    ···

    To all of you Leftie liberals out there who claim to like and support us Vets! Bite Me! Because you don’t mean it as you are against this Republic’s military anyway! So please refrain from chiming in on something that you could care less Bout as you don’t mean it in the first place! Our Armed Forces have been All Volunteer since 1973! I can look into someone’s eyes every time they say “ Thank You For Your Service” and I can tell if they mean it or not! Many really mean to say “ Better You Than Me”! I know! Don’t we Sneaky Pete? So we don’t need Leftie Punks Chiming in on Our Business, Thoughts and the many Great Deeds that we have done, because You Don’t Have A Clue! And Your Democrats on the Senate just voted against against a major Veterans bill that would have helped a lot of us! So please quit chiming in as I know a BS er when I hear one or read ones writing! Get the F away from me and my comrades!

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  • Jonathan
    06/24/2017
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    I am a US Marine and veteran who has benefited immensely from this program. I will go on to serve my fellow veterans as a social worker thanks to this. Investing in education invests in our community and is also a public good.

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  • Melanie
    06/23/2017
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    That was a bipartisan bill that help push the USA towards greatness. I am a vet who joined the military in order to further my education. After 3 years of active duty, I used the GI Bill to complete course work and was accepted into medical school. I had my world expanded in the military and attained my dream of being a physician.

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  • Kodiwodi
    06/22/2017
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    But today we pretty much have torn that up and our politicians just play lip service to caring for our Vets.

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  • Isabel
    06/22/2017
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    It's a sad day in America when we have a President who doesn't know his history. He has proven that time & time again. With the NATO Agreement, Paris Climate Agreement, Iranian agreement, Syria, for the love of God even the Civil war.

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  • Vicki
    06/23/2018
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    We need another FDR.

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  • Barb
    06/23/2018
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    An example of what government can do to help citizens. Look at the current news feeds for examples of how toxic a government run by incompetents can be. An incredible comparison.

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  • Dave
    06/23/2018
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    The GI bill is what made America great. In the 40's - 50's people went to college, got an education, that was the biggest boost in economic development of the US. It is the only thing that appreciate as an investment in a country, state, city, community, corporation and a business. That is why China, India, EU and other forward thinking country fund education. The wealth of a country is its people and it's future!

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  • David
    06/23/2017
    ···

    FDR , one of last reformers ! Kennedy tried they killed him, his brother, other than that say what you will Obama were Presidents who cared about the majority not the minority ! The Democratic Party needs to drop their gun BS and lift the prohibition against a benign substance like marijuana 1970 declared war on America and those laws were radical and racists as well as a attempt to destroy dissent.Grow up legislators haven't you destroyed enough of our freedom in this nation. People know when their being bulshitted. Do the jobs your paid to do take care of America and its citizens. Anything else is a violation of your oath to obey the constitution! By the way "gentle person " In 1970, 200,000 in prison, 2017, 2,300,000. Cost just on that alone 1970 30,000,000 and in 2017 88,000,000,00 94% non violent drug offenses. Or in other words persons who politically disagree ( political prisoners) ❗️🇺🇸

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  • Ticktock
    06/22/2017
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    The description given by Countable was incomplete although accurate. It failed to mention the Bonus Army and the virtual civil war after WWI. Veterans of prior US conflicts had received little assistance prior to the GI Bill. Although some veterans or their dependents had received a small stipends due to death or injury but nothing like the assistance that are the mainstay for today service personnel. These desperate veterans and their families had gathered, in Washington, D.C., for Congress to fulfill their promise of medical and financial assistance. The result was that Congress granted a payment to be made in 1945, explaining that due to the 1929 Depression funds were not available for payment until that date. On July 28, 1932, under the command of General Douglas MacArthur, the veterans (approximately 15,000) were driven were out of their makeshift housing and Washington, D.C., by tanks and Calvary before burning the Hoovervilles down. There was resistance and shots fired on both sides. This action in no small part played a role insuring the equitable treatment of WWII veterans and our service personnel today. Prior to WWII most people rented their houses, few owned their own home. The Loan Guarantee enabled veterans to buy their own homes. The GI Bill enabled massive numbers of veterans to obtain higher educations that would have only been available to the wealthy and as result built the basis for the middle class today. Last but definitely not least was medical care. There were so many veterans who served during WWII and Korea that much of the US male population had access to quality healthcare when needed. My father had his appendix removed in a VAMC after the Korean War. Our current economy, middle class whether veteran or not, owes a debt of gratitude to the GI Bill and those veterans who earned those benefits. We should remember the source of our affluence and guard it from those who would be glad to see it diminished.

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  • Gary
    06/23/2017
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    If you make college tuition free then there won't be as many volunteers. Then the draft will need to be reinstated. ALL the Millennials will be eligible for the draft. Haw haw

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  • David
    06/23/2017
    ···

    I should think that FDR is the greatest president of all time since I did attend public school and graduated from a state university, but I am very capable of thinking for myself. I am also capable of reading beyond a textbook. FDR was easily bottom five presidents in my count. Concentration camps, dismantling the federal court system, creating social programs that we will never be able to catch up on our debt, and oh yeah; he thought Mussolini was a swell guy.

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