The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, G.I. Bill 1944
This act, often known as the GI Bill, was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, and gave payments to veterans of World War II for college education, unemployment insurance, and housing.
While World War II was still being waged, the Department of Labor predicted that 15 million men and women who had served in the military would be unemployed after the war. To prevent widespread unemployment from causing postwar depression, the National Resources Planning Board, a White House department, began studying postwar labor needs in 1942 and recommended a series of education and training initiatives in June 1943.
The fundamental components of what became the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act were created by the American Legion and pushed through Congress. In the spring of 1944, the bill was unanimously passed by both chambers of Congress. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, just days after the D-day invasion of Normandy.
It was dubbed “the GI Bill of Rights” by American Legion publicist Jack Cejnar because it provided Federal assistance to help veterans adjust to civilian life in areas such as healthcare, home and business purchases, and, most importantly, education. For veterans who wanted to continue their education in school or college, this act provided tuition, subsistence, books and materials, equipment, and counseling services. Approximately 8 million veterans earned educational benefits during the next seven years.
Approximately 2,300,000 people attended colleges and universities, 3,500,000 people received school training, and 3,400,000 people obtained on-the-job training as a result of the act. Between 1940 and 1950, the number of degrees issued by American colleges and universities more than doubled, and the percentage of Americans with bachelor’s or higher degrees increased from 4.6 percent in 1945 to 25 percent in 1950.
The education and training section of the GI Bill had given $14.5 billion to veterans by 1956, when it expired, but the Veterans Administration predicted that the increase in Federal income taxes alone would cover the bill’s cost many times over. By 1955, 4.3 million home loans had been approved, totaling $33 billion in face value.
Furthermore, veterans were liable for purchasing 20% of all new homes constructed after the war. The consequences reverberated across the economy; there would be no new downturn, only unprecedented wealth for a decade. Several times, the GI Bill has been extended. During the Korean War, about 2.3 million veterans took part in the program, while more than 8 million participated during the Vietnam War.
The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)