Serving Our Soldiers

Our View: The Post-9/11 Gi Bill Is The First Step To Restoring A Struggling Middle Class

August 10, 2009

When World War II soldiers returned home, they had an astonishing and fitting opportunity awaiting them - their tuition, books and even a monthly stipend paid in full by the United States government, ensuring that the veterans who risked everything for their country had every opportunity to prosper.

There is no more fitting memorial to the Greatest Generation, with apologies to the stirringly beautiful monument recently erected on the National Mall, than a continuation of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the GI Bill.

And so we applaud the Post-9/11 GI Bill, introduced by Vietnam veteran Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia, backed by then-Sen. Barack Obama and signed into law by President Bush. The payments, the first of which were sent to universities across the country last week, give veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan the same benefits their grandfathers received: An investment in our troops and in our country's success.

In today's economic climate, which is hostile even to college-educated workers with years of experience, it is vital that the men and women of our armed forces are provided for, just as they provided for us.

While the middle class struggles to keep their jobs, their homes and their life's savings, the new GI Bill begins to rebuild the American dream this recession has ripped from so many.

With the adoption of this bill, the federal government acknowledges the importance of higher education.

But this is true for every American citizen, not just our soldiers. This is the first step to making college - and all the benefits that come with it - accessible to more citizens, not fewer.

The Greatest Generation would be proud.

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