The GI Bill of Rights: Definition & Benefits

Instructor: David White
In this lesson, you'll learn about an important piece of U.S. legislation known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, and you'll be given an overview of what benefits it provides to veterans.

What Is the G.I. Bill of Rights?

Following the end of World War II (WWII), the United States experienced a prolonged period of prosperity that gave birth to the idea of the 'American Dream.' As men returned home from serving in the military, they quickly began to buy homes in the newly developed suburbs, started having families, and attended college to establish non-military careers. Although this period of American history was the result of several contributing factors, much of this prosperity would not have been possible without the benefits afforded to soldiers through the G.I. Bill of Rights.

The G.I. Bill of Rights is the informal name used to refer to the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, which is a congressional act that provides benefits to American soldiers following the end of their military service.

The bill provides benefits to those honorably discharged after at least 90 days.

Passed during the final years of WWII, the G.I. Bill is an important piece of legislation enacted to ensure that returning military veterans are provided with, among other things, adequate health care and opportunities to establish themselves in civilian life.

What Does the G.I. Bill Provide?

Towards the end of WWII, the National Resources Planning Board (NRPB) estimated that nearly 15 million people would be returning to civilian life after the war. In an effort to prevent a dramatic increase in unemployment and homelessness, the NRPB began to craft legislation that would provide certain benefits to these men and women, which would help them re-establish their lives outside of the military.

Although the actual bill itself is quite long, it basically covers two areas of private life. The first area, health care of veterans, ensures that veterans will have access to exclusive hospitals and health care facilities upon their return from service, which they can access at no charge. This section includes the provision that no person can be discharged from the military without a plan for health care, particularly if that person has a chronic illness or disability. Additionally, the health care portion of the bill makes it clear that no person will be forced to disclose the origins of an illness at any time.

The second big focus of the G.I. Bill is in the area of resettlement into civilian life. This part of the bill ensures that returning veterans have access to opportunities for employment, skills training, and education, which would allow them to establish a career. Among the original, important benefits of this section were the funds for up to 50% of a home loan (not to exceed $2,000), up to $500 per year for education costs, up to 52 weeks of unemployment benefits, and assistance with finding employment.

The G.I. Bill provides services to help veterans find employment or pursue an education.

These benefits helped millions of Americans settle back into civilian life through training, education, and access to homes. Also, it is important to note that the benefits afforded through the G.I. Bill provided an entirely new revenue stream in the U.S., which, in turn, provided a major boost to the economy.

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