What is the 'Servicemen's Readjustment Act'

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, signed into law on June 22, 1944 and amended several times since, provides benefits to military veterans. Benefits include loans and mortgages at low interest rates, unemployment compensation, and payments to cover college tuition and board. Initially, the benefits were made available to any veteran who served during World War II, provided they served for at least 90 days and were not dishonorably discharged. Combat service was not a requirement. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Servicemen's Readjustment Act'

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, which became known as the GI Bill, was one of the U.S. government’s ways to reintegrate in society when they returned from World War II service. At the time, the U.S. Department of Labor said as many as 15 million veterans coming home could overrun the labor market. Poor treatment of veterans following World War I remained a public topic of discussion, including protests like the Bonus March and the creation of shanty towns.

The Servicemen’s Readjustment Act-sponsored low-interest mortgages, helping to drive a substantial boom in the housing market with many veterans moving out of urban areas to suburban communities. Nearly half of all veterans used the tuition benefit to go seek higher education or to attend training programs. The initial law expired in 1956, but the Veterans Readjustment Act of 1966 extended benefits to all veterans of the armed forces, including those who had served during peacetime.

Updates to the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act

A 1984 movement by Mississippi Representative G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery resulted in the GI Bill becoming permanent. One of its more prominent features at the time was that it allowed Vietnam War veterans to seek higher education. Today, the GI Bill is an opt-in program that provides assistance to veterans and service members with at least two years of active duty experience. It covers those in the Selected Reserve who meet specific criteria as well.

The Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also called the Post-9/11 GI Bill, became law in 2008. It offers veterans on active duty on September 11, 2001 or after increased educational benefits. It also allows them to transfer unused educational benefits to their spouse or kids.

In 2017, the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, also known as the Forever GI Bill, became law. The bill further expanded veterans’ educational benefits by eliminating the 15-year limitation on Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for eligible veterans and their dependents, authorizing work-study programs and offering veterans priority enrollment educational counseling, among others.

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