The bill which President Franklin D. Roosevelt initially proposed was not as far reaching. The G.I. Bill was created to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932 and a relapse into the Great Depression after World War I ended. The American Legion was essentially responsible for many of the bill's provisions. The Legion, led by Atherton, managed to have the bill apply to all who served in the armed services, including African Americans and women.
An important provision of the G.I. Bill was low interest, zero down payment home loans for servicemen. This enabled millions of American families to move out of urban apartments and into suburban homes. Prior to the war the suburbs tended to be the homes of the wealthy and upper class. Although black servicemen were eligible for these loans they were prevented from leaving the inner cities or rural areas because many suburban communities, and real estate brokers used redlining and other racial segregation techniques to not sell homes to African Americans and other minorities.
Another provision was known as the 52–20 clause. This enabled all former servicemen to receive $20 once a week for 52 weeks a year while they were looking for work. Less than 20 percent of the money set aside for the 52–20 Club was distributed. Rather, most returning servicemen quickly found jobs or pursued higher education.
A cursory look at the available statistics reveals that these later bills had an enormous influence on the lives of returning veterans, higher education, and the economy. A far greater percentage of Vietnam veterans used G.I. Bill education benefits (72 percent) than World War II veterans (51 percent) or Korean War veterans (43 percent). The government poured over 38.5 billion dollars into higher education under the Vietnam-era bills, almost two-and-a-half times the cost of the World War II G.I. Bill (when adjusted for inflation).
Moreover, because of the ongoing military draft from 1940 to 1973, as many as one third of the population (when both veterans and their dependents are taken into account) could potentially have benefited from the elaborate and generous welfare system created by the expansion of veterans’ benefits.
The success of the 1944 G.I. Bill prompted the government to offer similar measures to later generations of veterans. The Veterans’ Adjustment Act of 1952, signed into law on July 16 1952 offered benefits to veterans of the Korean Conflict that served for more than 90 days and had received an “other than dishonorable discharge.” Korean Conflict veterans did not receive unemployment compensation — Korean Vets weren't members of the 52–20 Club like WWII vets, but they were entitled to unemployment compensation starting at the end of a waiting period which was determined by the amount and disbursement dates of their mustering out pay. They were entitled to 26 weeks at $26 a week to be paid for by the federal government but administered by the various states. One improvement in the unemployment compensation for Korean War veterans was they could get both state and federal benefits, the federal benefits beginning once state benefits were exhausted.
One significant difference between the 1944 G.I. Bill and the 1952 Act was that tuition was no longer paid directly to the chosen institution of higher education. Instead, veterans received a fixed monthly sum of $110 from which they had to pay for their tuition, fees, books, and living expenses. The decision to abort direct tuition payments to schools came after a 1950 House select committee uncovered incidents of overcharging of tuition rates by some institutions under the original G.I. Bill in an attempt to defraud the government.
Although the monthly stipend proved sufficient for most Korean conflict veterans, this decision would have negative repercussions for later veterans. By the end of the program on January 31, 1965 approximately 2.4 million of 5.5 million eligible veterans had used their benefits. Roughly 1.2 million had used them to enter higher education, over 860,000 for other education purposes, and 318,000 for occupational training. Over 1.5 million Korean Conflict veterans obtained home loans.
Whereas the G.I. Bills of 1944 and 1952 were given to compensate veterans for wartime service, the Veterans Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 forever changed the nature of military service in America by extending benefits to veterans who served during times of war and peace. At first there was some opposition to the concept of a peacetime G.I. Bill. President Dwight Eisenhower had rejected such a measure in 1959 after the Bradley commission concluded that military service should be “an obligation of citizenship, not a basis for government benefits.” President Lyndon B. Johnson believed that many of his “Great Society” social programs negated the need for sweeping veterans benefits. But, prompted by unanimous support given the bill by Congress, Johnson signed it into law on March 3 1966.
Almost immediately critics within the veterans’ community and on Capitol Hill charged that the bill did not go far enough. At first, single veterans who had served more than 180 days and had received an “other than dishonorable discharge” received only $100 a month from which they had to pay for tuition and all of their expenses. Most found this amount to be insufficient. In particular, veterans who had endured the hardships of the Vietnam War recoiled at the government’s failure to provide them with the same generous educational opportunities as their World War II predecessors. Consequently, during the early years of the program, only about 25% of Vietnam veterans used their education benefits.
But for the next decade, a battle raged in the government to increase veterans’ benefits. Congress succeeded, often in the face of fierce objections from the fiscally conservative Nixon and Ford Administrations, to raise benefit levels. In 1967, a single veteran’s benefits were raised to $130 a month; in 1970 they rose to $175; under the Readjustment Assistance Act of 1972 the monthly allowance rose to $220; in 1974 it rose to $270, $292 in 1976, and then $311 a month in 1977.
As the funding levels increased, the numbers of veterans entering higher education rose correspondingly. Indeed, it was not until 1976, fully ten years after the first veterans became eligible, that the highest number of Vietnam-era veterans were enrolled in colleges and universities. By the end of the program, proportionally more Vietnam-era veterans (6.8 million out of 10.3 million eligible) had used their benefits for higher education than any previous generation of veterans.
And contrary to the popular stereotypes of the Vietnam veteran, most who served in Vietnam used their benefits to construct productive and successful lives after service. Education benefits during the Vietnam era did not have the same impact on higher education as the original 1944 Bill because higher education had become much more commonplace in America. But the G.I. Bills of this period did have a similarly positive impact on the lives of the beneficiaries.
Despite the movement to an all-volunteer force in 1973, veterans continued to receive benefits, in part as an inducement to enlist, under the Veterans Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), and the Montgomery G.I. Bill (MGIB). From December 1976 through 1987, veterans received assistance under the VEAP. The VEAP departed from previous programs by requiring participants to make a contribution to their education benefits. The VA then matched their contributions at a rate of 2 to 1. Enlisted personnel could contribute up to $100 a month up to a maximum of $2700. Benefits could be claimed for up to 36 months.
To be eligible, a veteran had to have served for more than 180 days and received an “other than dishonorable discharge.” Nearly 700,000 veterans used their benefits for education and training under this program. The MGIB replaced the VEAP for those who served after July 1, 1985. This was an entirely voluntary program in which participants could choose to forfeit $100 per month from their first year of pay. In return, eligible veterans receive a generous tuition allowance and a monthly stipend for up to 36 months of eligible training or education.
Congress failed to include merchant marine veterans in the G.I. Bill, even though they are considered military personnel in times of war in accordance with the Merchant Marine Act of 1936. As he signed the G.I. Bill in June 1944 President Roosevelt said: "I trust Congress will soon provide similar opportunities to members of the merchant marine who have risked their lives time and time again during war for the welfare of their country." Now that the youngest veterans are in their 80s, there are efforts to recognize their contributions by giving some benefits to the remaining survivors. In 2007, three different bills related to this issue were introduced in Congress, one of which passed the House of Representatives only.
The 10-year period can also be extended if one reenters active duty for 90 days or more after becoming eligible. The extension ends 10 years from the date of separation from the later period. Periods of active duty of less than 90 days qualify for extensions only if one was separated for one of the following:
For those eligible based on two years of active duty and four years in the Selected Reserve, they have 10 years from their release from active duty, or 10 years from the completion of the four-year Selected Reserve obligation to use MGIB benefits.
Under this bill, benefits may be used to pursue an undergraduate or graduate degree at a college or university, a cooperative training program, or an accredited independent study program leading to a degree.
Vocational rehabilitation for individuals that do not necessarily have military affiliations is set up on a state-by-state basis under Federal guidelines. Funding is obtained through the Federal government with a legislated match by each state. Vocational rehabilitation (VR) services include things like provision of assistive technology, medical and psychiatric intervention to improve work-readiness, on-the-job supports (for example, a job coach) to help an individual acclimate to a work setting and requirements of the job, job assistance, vocational training, college education related to employment preparation, and VR counseling and guidance. VR services may begin as early as the senior year of high school.
Another criticism is that the government, rather than the service member, dictates how and when potential benefits are used. This is rarely the case with other types of financial aid.
By far, one of the biggest concerns is the use of the MGIB in recruiting material. Often, recipients receive amounts far less than those advertised. While huge amounts are touted in recruiting material, the amounts actually received do not match those advertised. What some people do not know, is that there are 2 separate programs, the standard MGIB which is roughly $35,000 and the Army College Fund, when which coupled with the MGIB, can equate to upwards of $80,000.
|Type||Active Duty Chapter 30||Active Duty Chapter 30 Top-up||Vocational Reabilitation Chapter 31||VEAP Chapter 32||DEA Chapter 35||Selected Reserve Chapter 1606||Selected Reserve (REAP) Chapter 1607||Additional Benefits Tuition Assistance||Additional Benefits Student Loan Repayment Program|
|Time Limit (Eligibility)||10 yrs from discharge||Entered service for the first time between January 1, 1977, and June 30, 1985;Opened a contribution account before April 1, 1987;Voluntarily contributed from $25 to $2700||Prior to October 1, 1992 = 14 years, on or after October 1, 1992 = 10 years, or on the day you leave the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.||10 Years from date of eligibility, or the day you leave the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.||On the day you leave the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.||On the day you leave the Selected Reserve; this include voluntary entry into the IRR.|
|Months of Benefits (Full Time)||36 Months||1 to 36 months depending on the number of monthly contributions||up to 45 months||36 Months||36 Months||Contingent as long as you serve as an Active Reservist.||Contingent as long as you serve as an Active Reservist.|