Couldn’t agree with Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen more.? It’s time that we repay our soldiers with a new G.I. Bill.
In 1944 President Roosevelt signed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, commonly known as the GI Bill. It was one of the most visionary and transformative pieces of legislation in American history, providing free education for returning veterans. Its champions believed it was the moral response to the sacrifice those service members had made, but it also solved an economic and social problem. An influx of millions of unemployed and untrained men into the labor force could have triggered another Great Depression. But with 5 million of those soldiers becoming students instead, the result was the ascendancy of the middle class and a period of enormous prosperity. Every dollar spent on the GI Bill was multiplied many times over in benefits to the postwar U.S. economy.
But government institutions are notoriously amnesiac. College costs have escalated, and benefits have shrunk. Service members are surprised to discover that the grateful nation that made it possible for Sen. John Warner to go to both college and law school and Sen. Frank Lautenberg to graduate from an Ivy League university won’t even cover three years at a public institution, much less a private college. Members of the National Guard and Reserves, who have been a linchpin of the current conflicts, receive only a fraction of that help.