By Carl Singer
First a quick history lesson – the original G.I. Bill was enacted in 1944. JWV proudly can claim to have a strong supporter and advocate for the G.I. Bill. We along with other veterans groups made it happen!
Some say that World War II brought America out of the Depression, but I say that the G.I. Bill enabled and sparked the remarkable growth of the post-World War II American economy. Young soldiers that came home from the war got their education thanks to the G.I. Bill, and they applied their learning, can-do spirit and military discipline to building a better America. VA loans also enabled these GI’s to buy homes and reach for the American Dream.
“The World War II G.I. Bill, it’s one of the most cherished programs in American History, it paid the full cost of an education at any four-year college or university,” said Aaron Glantz of PBS.
For the G.I. – the G.I. Bill provided opportunity and an open door to a brighter future.
For colleges and universities – the G.I. Bill filled classrooms with enthusiastic students and revenue to build, to expand and do research.
For America – the G.I. Bill was the catalyst for fantastic growth, international leadership, the space age – you name it. All thanks to the G.I. Bill.
Over the years G.I. Bill benefits withered – with a less understanding Congress and less pressure from voters, benefits were reduced. In 2008, this was finally addressed in support of the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.
However, there are still many issues to be addressed. For-profit schools have gotten into the act – preying on veterans because they see the opportunity of providing services where the recipient doesn’t pay.
Kate O’Gorman of IAVA said, “many veterans are being aggressively and deceptively recruited by some bad actors in the for-profit school sector.”
For the G.I. – Less benefits with an uncertain future.
For colleges and universities – Huge payouts with very little accountability on how the money is being used.
For America – Veterans that are demoralized and might need constant government assistance.
Lastly, some schools, like ITT Tech, have abruptly closed leaving veterans high and dry – having used their benefits, but leaving them without their diploma. These service members are not getting their money’s worth – many do not get their degrees and many do not learn the skills they need to succeed in the market place. It’s not only the dollars wasted, but about the lives being impacted!
For the G.I. – No benefits with a poor outlook of the future.
For colleges and universities – Receiving veterans’ money without having to do anything for the veteran.
For America – Veterans that might be unable to provide for themselves.
There are several bills before Congress that address some of these problems that JWV is currently promoting with the Military Coalition. They might not be voted on or passed this year, but we will continue to fight for these inclusions.
As National Commander, I introduced a resolution at our National Convention this past August in San Antonio, which included 5 major tenets:
- Provide effective initial counseling to transitioning service members so that they may select appropriate education and training venues, leading towards productive careers.
- Provide additional as needed counseling at the request of service members who are receiving GI Bill stipends.
- Monitor for profit training and education venues to assure that they are providing appropriate services to GI Bill recipients.
- Decertify those training and education venues which fail to meet established criteria.
- In the event that a training or education facility closes prior to a service member’s completing their contracted program, provide appropriate added GI Bill benefits so that the service member is made whole.
Volume 71. Number 3. Fall 2017