|Propaganda poster for the new G.I. Bill|
Today’s topic is a World War II themed ‘on this day in history’ for June 22.
On June 22, 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law the G.I. Bill; a legislative act intended to compensate returning members of the armed forces. The G.I. Bill, known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, was one of the last New Deal reforms. The idea was to help all the displaced men and women returning from war to avoid a relapse into another depression. FDR remembered the Bonus March of 1932, where 20,000 unemployed veterans marched on Washington, and wanted to avoid a repeat of that event. The American Legion was able to gain many provisions for the bill that are now included, such as, giving returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, education funding, and low-interest rates on home and business loans.
|Soldier reading the G.I. Bill of Rights|
By giving our Veterans an advantage, and incentive, to further their higher education, the Bill inadvertently altered higher education in America. Suddenly, college degrees that were only available to 10 to 15 percent of the privileged classes were now accessible to our Veterans. By 1947, World War II vets made up half of the country’s college enrollment. With such a drastic influx of people, colleges and universities were forced to adapt and compensate to the growing demand for higher education. Not only were facilities and staff improved, but also vocational studies were developed and flourished, like education, agriculture, commerce, and mining skills. Not only that, but thousands of veterans were now able to move from their urban homes to new, sprawled out, suburban communities!
|Advertisements promoting loan coverage under the G.I. Bill.|
Millions of veterans, and their families, were able to have a comfortable life and further their education, which in-tern drove a thirty-year economic expansion in America. Since the signing of the bill, the impact has changed education, quality of life, and even the landscape of America! Some famous Americans to benefit from the G.I. Bill were former President Gerald Ford, Johnny Cash, Paul Newman, and Clint Eastwood.