June 23, 2014, WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is celebrating 70 years of investment in the education and economic prosperity of America’s Servicemembers and Veterans. The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the “GI Bill” was enacted on June 22, 1944. The law provided a wide range of benefits for Veterans returning from World War II, including low-cost home loans, education and vocational training. The original GI Bill was heralded as a success and major contributor to America’s stock of human capital that sped long-term economic growth across the Nation. Today, a new group of Veterans is accessing the Post-9/11 GI Bill and other education benefits, following in their footsteps.
Roughly 8 million out of 16 million World War II Veterans used their GI Bill education benefit. Subsequent legislation expanded and extended similar “GI Bill” benefits to generations that followed, including Veterans of the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars as well as those serving during peacetime. Passage of the Post-9/11 GI Bill provided this important benefit to our newest generation of Veterans, including activated members of the National Guard and Reserve components.
This newest generation includes Veterans like Jennifer Martin, who after serving 8 years in the United States Marine Corps, used her Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of the District of Columbia. Jennifer is now conducting research at the VA Medical Center in Portland, Oregon, as part of her Doctoral studies at Gallaudet University. Upon graduation, she hopes to work with Veterans who suffer from hearing loss and tinnitus.
VA provides a variety of education and training benefits for Veterans pursuing a wide range of education goals – including certificate programs, post-secondary degrees and work-study programs. Since August 2009, VA has paid out more than $41 billion in Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to fund the education of 1.2 million beneficiaries. New online tools on the GI Bill website help Veterans learn more about their vocational aptitudes and select an education institution and training program that are right for them.
“In the 70 years since the original GI Bill was signed into law in 1944, VA has provided millions of Veterans and their families with low-cost home loans, education and vocational training,” said Allison A. Hickey, VA’s Under Secretary for Benefits. “VA is committed to ensuring today’s Veterans have every opportunity to achieve their goals, and the GI Bill is one big way in which we are delivering on that commitment.”
VA’s housing benefits, which began as part of the original GI Bill, include programs to help Veterans purchase, repair, retain, and adapt homes. Over 20 million VA home loans have been guaranteed, and nearly 90 percent of these loans are made with no down payment. Through VA’s Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, career counseling, training, employment, and job-placement services are provided to transitioning Servicemembers and service-disabled Veterans.
VA education and training benefits are a key resource for Veterans transitioning from military service to the civilian workforce. The new eBenefits Veterans Employment Center is the first online interagency website that brings together, in one place, public and private job opportunities, as well as resume-building and other career tools. Through the online eBenefits portal, Veterans, transitioning Servicemembers and spouses are connected to high quality career choices by matching their identified skills with available public and private job opportunities. They can easily access this and other online resources, as well as register or upgrade to a free Premium account, at www.ebenefits.va.gov.