History of Veterans Benefits and Servicemember Readjustment
Not only is the history of our country at war important, but we also think it's important to highlight those men and women who are forever changed by their time spent at war. Our Veterans have many great stories and triumphs (as seen on this website), but there is a different side to it all. They return home from war to get on with their lives. This article is part of a series that describe the work of the VA and its programs to aid our military once they return to civilian life.
The Department of Veterans Affairs or VA for short, sole purpose is helping those that have served our country. While the VA has many functions and oversees numerous things, VA home financing (outside website) is one of the benefits of being a veteran.
From its earliest beginnings in 1636, during the war between the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony and the Pequot Indians, whereas the Pilgrims established a law that disabled soldiers would be cared for by the colony, to current day benefits include education, medical and home financing.
In 1930 the Veterans Administration was established by Congress to consolidate all independent agencies. At the end of World War II benefits were reviewed and new ones added and in 1944 the Servicemen's Readjustment Act, also known as the GI Bill, was signed into law.
The bill was created to avoid another Bonus March that followed World War I, where some 15,000 plus WWI veterans and their families stormed Washington DC in 1932. In exchange for service, WWI veterans were given certificates, representing a face value. Much like a bond, the certificates had a maturity date of 20 years. However, due to the depression era, veterans were demanding the cash value of the certificates and marched on Washington in protest. Through orders from General Douglas Mac Arthur and carried out by Major George S. Patton the veterans were removed. Following a battle, the largest campsite was set ablaze (source unknown) which was shown on the front page of the New York Times the following day.
While the Bonus March was a horrible ordeal, it was not without its reward. It is due to these veterans that the GI Bill was passed. While the majority of the bill addresses educational, retirement, unemployment and life insurance benefits, it also includes a section for home loans.
At the end of World War II, home ownership was typically shared with wealthy and upper middle class owners, whereas, most American's leased from them. The GI Bill included a provision allowing veterans to utilize their benefits to acquire home financing requiring zero down payments. This benefit alone literally opened the door for millions of Americans to purchase homes.
Initially the GI Bill was afforded to wartime veterans only; however, in 1966, benefits were added to veterans that served during peace time as well. Over the past thirty years the bill itself has been readjusted several times, with each change effecting entitlement.
Check out other great Military History sites below. Recording our history is a the combined work of all of us, and these are some of the best resources we can find (outside of AllMilitary.com of course!).