73 years ago today in 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into the law the landmark G.I. Bill of Rights. Nearly every one of the 16 million Americans who served in WWII — our "Greatest Generation" — were eligible for benefits ranging from college and vocational support to home mortgages.
It not only helped the veterans of World War II to resume their interrupted civilian lives, it improved their lives dramatically. It also sowed the seeds for decades of tremendous economic growth and expanded opportunities for America's working families.
Historian Milton Greenberg estimates that the WWII G.I. Bill enriched the United States by producing 450,000 engineers, 240,000 accountants, 238,000 teachers, 91,000 scientists, 67,000 doctors and 22,000 dentists. Their legacy returned $7 to the American economy for every $1 invested in the educational benefits, a huge return on investment.
The Vietnam-era version of the G.I. Bill helped reshape my life. Following active duty as an enlisted sailor 1965-67, I continued my education at Florida State University and, a few years later, bought my first home in Tallahassee with a G.I. mortgage.
I'll never forget how it gave me such a good start in life -- and I'll always fight for the same for the young men and women of today's working families.