On January 10th, 1944, Congress passed the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act of 1944. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the bill, more commonly referred to as the GI Bill, into law in June of 1944.  Originally titled, the GI Bill of Rights, it was signed about two weeks after the Allied invasion of Normandy in France.

Before this point, the military didn’t offer any help for education, housing, or job training to help after military life was over. The GI Bill changed this and ended up being one of the most significant pieces of federal legislation.

2019 marks the 75th anniversary of the GI Bill. Here’s a look at how transformative the GI Bill has been over the past seventy-five years…

World War II

After World War II, 16 million americans who had been serving their country would be unemployed when the war ended. The worry was that this would cause another depression and widespread economic instability similar to what happened in 1929 during the stock market crash. Experts studied the issue and recommended adding educational and training programs to help.

What is the GI Bill of Rights?

Originally, the GI Bill was called the GI Bill of Rights and offered federal aid to help veterans buy homes, get jobs and pursue an education. The assistance bill provided for books, supplies, counseling services, a living allowance, and of course tuition. The result of this was that postwar college and vocational school attendance jumped exponentially which kept veterans from flooding the job market all at one time.

According to federal statistics, during the first seven years of the GI Bill’s use, 8 million veterans took advantage of what it had to offer. The program doubled the amount of university degree holders. Within 50 years, the number of Americans with advanced degrees rose nearly 20% and by 1956, when the Bill first expired, almost half of the 16 million World War II veterans had received their education because of the GI Bill.

Buying a Home

Another result of so many coming home from the war was that so many of the veterans got married and started families, basically known as the Baby Boom and creating the Baby Boom generation. Because of this, there ended up being a housing shortage.

Veterans were responsible for buying 20% of all new homes built after the war because of the Home Loan provision in the GI Bill, commonly referred to as the VA Loan. By 1955, 4.3 million home loans worth $33 billion had been granted to veterans.

This had a ripple effect across the economy, creating unparalleled prosperity for a generation as well as taking away fears of another Great Depression.

Extending Benefits

Over the years, the GI Bill has been extended several times, which helped 10.3 million more veterans after the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Post 9/11 GI Bill passed Congress in 2008 and was implemented in 2009. Since then, the Department of Veteran Affairs has provided educational benefits to nearly 800,000 veterans and their families, totalling more than $12 billion. Veterans can choose from a few versions of the GI Bill today, such as choosing between the Post 9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill. The Forever GI Bill, signed into law in 2017, expanded even more benefits for veterans starting in 2018, with future updates in the years to come.

As you look back, you can see how much the GI Bill of Rights has helped the military and their families, and how the GI Bill continues to offer extra benefits to those who have served their country.