Veterans, Educators, Business and Government Leaders Gather In Chesterfield County To Celebrate 75th Anniversary of the GI Bill ®
(Midlothian, Va.) Educators, business leaders, military veterans, state officials and Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) staff members convened on Friday, June 21 on the Midlothian campus of John Tyler Community College to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the GI Bill.
Officially called the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act when it was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944, the GI Bill was landmark legislation aimed to assist the millions of servicemen and women returning from World War II.
The GI Bill established veteran hospitals, made low-interest mortgages available, provided unemployment compensation while veterans transitioned from military service to civilian jobs, and most notably, granted stipends covering tuition and expenses for veterans attending college or trade schools.
“The birthday of the GI Bill is certainly worth celebrating here today,” said John L. Newby II, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Veterans Services. “No other legislative act played such an important role in shaping Post World War II America. The GI Bill allowed hundreds of thousands of returning veterans to purchase homes and pursue higher education. Many of these veterans could not have afforded to go to college or vocational schools otherwise.’
Speakers at the celebration noted that from 1944-1949, nearly 9 million veterans seeking civilian jobs received nearly $4 billion in unemployment compensation. The GI Bill also gave veterans the opportunity to attend college or vocational school tuition-free up to $500 while also receiving a cost-of-living stipend. As a result, almost 49% of college admissions in 1947 were World War II veterans.
Annie Walker, DVS Deputy Commissioner for Education and Career Programs, said the GI Bill continues to be important to veterans, especially here in Virginia. “In fiscal year 2018, nearly 50,000 Virginia veterans and their family members received $890 million in GI Bill assistance payments. In fact, Virginia was the #4 state in receiving these payments behind only California, Texas and Florida.”
Deputy Commissioner Walker explained that, as do most states, Virginia has established a State Approving Agency for Veterans Education and Training (SAA) to work with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) which administers the GI Bill programs. Virginia’s SAA is part of the Department of Veterans Services.
“Our SAA staff is responsible for reviewing and approving the approximately 1,000 public and private colleges and universities, vocational schools, licensure and certification exams, on-the-job training and apprenticeship programs throughout Virginia currently approved for GI Bill use,” Walker said.
The 75th Anniversary Celebration of the GI Bill was hosted by the Virginia Department of Veterans Services and John Tyler Community College. Participating partners included Virginia State University, Northern Virginia Community College, the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, and the State Council of Higher Education. For more information on the GI Bill in Virginia, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.
Photos from the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the GI Bill event are available on the DVS Flickr page: https://www.flickr.com/photos/130477507@N05/albums/72157709232118643).
About the Virginia Department of Veterans Services
The Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) is a state government agency with more than 40 locations across the Commonwealth of Virginia. DVS traces its history to 1928 and the establishment of the Virginia War Service Bureau to assist Virginia’s World War I veterans. Today, DVS assists veterans and their families in filing claims for federal veterans benefits; provides veterans and family members with linkages to services including behavioral healthcare, housing, employment, education and other programs. The agency operates two long-term care facilities offering in-patient skilled nursing care, Alzheimer’s/memory care, and short-term rehabilitation for veterans; provides an honored final resting place for veterans and their families at three state veterans cemeteries. It also oversees the Virginia War Memorial, the Commonwealth’s tribute to Virginia’s men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice from World War II to the present. For more information, please visit www.dvs.virginia.gov.