The G.I. Bill
Initially, President Franklin D. Roosevelt favored a comprehensive approach to dealing with postwar demobilization, especially in the areas of job retraining and vocational rehabilitation. However, faced with significant opposition in Congress and among veterans’ organizations to such broad‐based plans, he bowed to political realities and supported narrower legislation aimed at veterans. Substantial public pressure developed in 1943 and 1944, led by the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Hearst newspaper syndicate, to provide a bonus and other benefits to discharged service men and women. The American Legion, eager to attract World War II veterans to its organization, played a pivotal role in drafting and lobbying for the so‐called G.I. Bill.
The bill's emphasis on aiding able‐bodied veterans established important precedents that stemmed in part from fears of massive unemployment caused by demobilization and the return of millions of ex‐service men and women.
Between 1944 and 1949, nearly 9 million veterans received a total of $4 billion from the G.I. Bill's compensation program. Although unemployment increased after V‐J Day, the provisions of the bill, the unemployment insurance popularly known as the “52‐20 club,” played an instrumental role in ensuring that the United States avoided a postwar depression similar to that after World War I. In addition, over 3.5 million mortgages would be partially guaranteed under the homeowners’ loan provisions of the bill, and this was instrumental in encouraging rapid growth of suburbia after 1945. At the peak, in 1947, slightly over 40 percent of all housing starts in the nation would be funded by the guarantee.
The G.I. Bill's education and training programs reached slightly over half of the nearly 16 million eligible veterans in 1945–56. College enrollments increased by 70 percent over prewar levels. Ex‐service men dominated student bodies at American colleges in the late 1940s; in 1947, close to half the college students had served in the military. G.I. Bill recipients as a group tended to outperform traditional nonveteran students.
Benefits similar to the G.I. Bill would be extended to veterans of the Korean War. Subsequently, the Veterans’ Readjustment Benefits Act of 1966 extended such provisions to all who serve in the armed forces, even in peacetime. The precedents established by the G.I. Bill for federal aid to higher education would expand over the course of the Cold War. Totaling over $14 billion, the bill was crucial to the expansion of the middle class.
[See also Veterans: World War II.]
Davis R. B. Ross , Preparing for Ulysses: Politics and Veterans During World War II, 1969.
Keith W. Olson , The G.I. Bill, the Veterans, and the Colleges, 1974.
Michael J. Bennett , When Dreams Came True: The G.I. Bill and the Making of Modern America, 1996.
G. Kurt Piehler
"The G.I. Bill." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 14, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gi-bill
"The G.I. Bill." The Oxford Companion to American Military History. . Retrieved December 14, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/gi-bill
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.