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Much-praised GI Bill began amid controversy

   Few might remember that the original GI Bill, otherwise known as the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, almost stalled in Congress before Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it into law in 1944.

   "Some shunned the idea of paying unemployed veterans $20 a week because they thought it diminished their incentive to look for work," according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "Others questioned the concept of sending battle-hardened veterans to colleges and universities, a privilege then reserved for the rich."

   Eventually, according to a historical account of the bill on the VA Web site, all agreed something had to be done to assimilate veterans into civilian life, especially after the government had discharged World War I veterans with little more than a $60 allowance and train ticket home.

   These days, that original GI Bill is a heralded piece of legislation.

   "In the peak year of 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions," the VA states. "By the time the original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million of the 16 million World War II veterans had participated in an education or training program."

  -- Jay Rey

You can read about the new GI Bill here.


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