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On this day in history, June 22, 1944, FDR signs GI Bill, with far-reaching impact on American veterans

On this day in history, June 22, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the GI Bill, an act of legislation designed to compensate returning members of the armed services for their service and efforts in World War II.

The legislation is officially known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, according to History.com.

“The American Legion, a veteran’s organization, successfully fought for many of the provisions included in the bill, which gave returning servicemen access to unemployment compensation, low-interest homes and business loans and — most importantly — funding for education,” that site noted.

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“FDR particularly wanted to prevent a repeat of the Bonus March of 1932, when 20,000 unemployed veterans and their families flocked in protest to Washington,” said History.com.

Within the next seven years, some eight million veterans received educational benefits.

“Under the GI Bill, approximately 2,300,000 attended colleges and universities, 3,500,000 received school training and 3,400,000 received on-the-job training,” said the National Archives.

“The number of degrees awarded by U.S. colleges and universities more than doubled between 1940 and 1950, and the percentage of Americans with bachelor degrees or advanced degrees rose from 4.6% in 1945 to 25% a half-century later,” the archives also said.

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As educational institutions opened their doors to this new population of students, full classrooms prompted widespread improvement and expansion of university facilities and teaching staffs, History.com reported. 

“But because they did so in record numbers, they faced a severe housing shortage. A home loan provision of the GI Bill helped with that immensely.”

“It is no wonder that American historians rate the G.I. Bill as one of the most successful pieces of social welfare legislation ever developed.”

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Although the original GI Bill ended in 1956, newer programs have allowed veterans of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other wars to pursue college educations, and to secure for themselves a ticket into careers and professions they would have been unable to enter before, according to the Bill of Rights Institute.

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FDR signs New Deal legislation in the image shown here.  (Getty Images)

“It is no wonder that American historians rate the GI Bill as one of the most successful pieces of social welfare legislation ever developed, a reward to soldiers for serving their country and for defending freedom in World War II and afterward,” it noted.

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President George H.W. Bush summed up the impact of the bill in 1990 by saying that “the G.I. Bill changed the lives of millions by replacing old roadblocks with paths of opportunity,” according to the DOD.

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