Friday, June 22, 2012

G.I. Bill

G.I., "Government Issue",  is a noun used to describe members of the United States Military and items of their equipment.

On, June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the G.I. Bill.  It was an unprecedented act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services for their efforts in World War II.  The American Legion, a veteran's organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen and women access to unemployment compensation, low interest home and business loans, and most importantly funding for education.

By giving G.I.'s money for tuition, living expenses, books, supplies and equipment it transformed higher education in America.  Before the war, college had been an option for only 10-15 percent of young Americans.  By 1947 vets made up half of the nation's college enrollment.  Three years later nearly 500,000 Americans graduated from college, as compared to 160,000 in 1939.

The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America after World War II.  Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education.  Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban areas and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs.  Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion.  Money well spent starting with America's "Greatest Generation".

In 1973 the military went to an all volunteer system rather than the draft.  In 1976 the requirements to qualify for the GI benefits changed and have continued to change through the years.

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