Today, Congressman Joe Donnelly expressed his support for a new G.I. bill with updated benefits for veterans pursuing higher education. Donnelly is a co-sponsor of legislation currently being considered in Congress.
"The original World War II GI bill was one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation's history," Donnelly said. "Enabling our veterans to obtain a government-sponsored college education is a fitting payback for their selfless service, and it pays dividends many times over for our veterans and our country."
The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, which was the original G.I. bill, provided for college or vocational training for returning World War II veterans. It is credited with forestalling a widely-feared post-World War II economic depression by expanding the home-owning middle class and forever changing the nature of higher education in the United States.
Since 1944, the G.I. bill has gone through many updates, the most recent being the Montgomery G.I. Bill of 1987. However, the benefits have not kept pace with the increasing cost of attending higher education institutions, and many veterans are being forced to forgo higher education because they cannot afford it. Others are having to take on extra loans to cover the cost of a full four-year education.
The proposed G.I. bill improvements would help resolve these benefit shortfalls by increasing the amount of Basic Education Assistance available to veterans, so they can pay for the full cost of a four-year public college. The new G.I. bill also would extend the entitlement eligibility from 10 to 15 years after release from active duty and provide veterans with a monthly stipend to cover living expenses while in school.
"Our servicemen and women deserve to attend college without having to worry about how they will pay," Donnelly expressed. "That is why I strongly support legislation that would update the G.I. bill to ensure that it covers the costs of today's higher education. We must take care of our veterans because they have taken care of us."
Donnelly was joined by two veterans who have benefited from the G.I. bill. Donald Mitchell, a Korean War veteran and former Marine, graduated from Indiana State University and became a teacher as a result of his benefits under the G.I. bill.
"The G.I. bill enabled me to pursue a higher education, which was the foundation for my success as a teacher. I commend Congressman Donnelly for recognizing the need to update this bill so our younger veterans can benefit from it as much as I did."
Eric Mentz just returned from Iraq and is looking into classes at Indiana University South Bend using his G.I. bill benefits.
"Making ends meet while paying for college is a major concern for veterans who have just returned from combat and are still readjusting. For this reason, the G.I. bill's benefits are essential for us."