​Almanac: The GI Bill

And now a page from our "Sunday Morning" Almanac: June 22nd, 1944, 70 years ago today . . . the day Americans fighting in World War II won a victory far from the battlefield.

For that was the day President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, otherwise known as the GI Bill of Rights.

Although the war still had just over a year to run, the government wanted to assure opportunities for returning men and women in uniform.

Above all, it wanted no repeat of the shabby treatment received by veterans of World War I, whose march on Washington in 1932 to demand promised compensation was met by active duty troops who dispersed them by force.

By contrast, the GI Bill promised Word War II vets a raft of benefits (outlined in informational films), starting with help finding employment:

"If they can't find you a job right away, you'll be given $20 a week for up to 52 weeks."

Relatively big money for the time, believe it or not, as was the educational assistance for GIs looking to go to college:

"The government pays all of your school bills up to $500 a year, and living expenses of $50 a month -- or $75 a month if you have dependents."

In 1947, nearly half the college admissions in the United States were veterans studying under the GI Bill.

And then there was the help the legislation offered to vets hoping to get a loan for their very first home, a benefit one film went to rather dubious lengths to showcase:

Man #1: "Wait a second. What about the beautiful blonde? Don't tell me the GI Bill of Rights guarantees every returning serviceman one of those, too?"
Man #2: "No, that's still up to the veteran, just as it's up to him to take advantage of the GI Bill of Rights."

All told, nearly 8 million returning vets DID take advantage of one or another of the GI Bill's REAL benefits . . . benefits that helped shape postwar America for decades to come.

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