Since World War II, our country has a long tradition of offering educational assistance to returning veterans.
In the 1940s, the first G.I. bill helped 7.8 million veterans and helped spark economic growth and expansion for a whole generation of Americans. The G.I. bill program was designed to help veterans readjust to civilian life, avoid high levels of unemployment, and give veterans the opportunity to receive the education and training that they missed while bravely serving in the military.
As a veteran who benefited from the G.I. Bill upon returning from Vietnam, I understand the importance of supporting veterans transition to civilian life and am proud to have offered the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 as my first piece of legislation in the United States Senate. This bill is designed to expand the educational benefits that our nation offers to the brave men and women who have served us so honorably since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
Since 9/11, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the demands placed upon our military. Many of our military members are serving two or three tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. In light of these immense hardships, it is now time to implement a more robust educational assistance program for our heroic veterans who have sacrificed so much for our great nation.
The new benefits package under the bill that I have introduced will include the costs of tuition, room and board, and a monthly stipend of $1,000. By contrast, existing law under the Montgomery G.I. bill provides educational support of up to $1,000 per month for four years, totaling $9,000 for each academic year. This benefit simply is insufficient after 9/11.
Currently our nation is fighting a worldwide war against terrorism but the Montgomery G.I. bill that administers veterans educational benefits is designed primarily for peacetime not wartime service. My bill is designed to give our returning troops educational benefits identical to the benefits provided to veterans after World War II.
The United States has never gone wrong when it has made sustained new investments in higher education and job training. Enacting the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007 is not only the right thing to do for our men and women in uniform, but it also is a strong tonic for an economy plagued by growing disparities in wealth, stagnant wages, and the outsourcing of American jobs.
Together we can provide the deserving veterans of the 9/11 era with the same program of benefits that our fathers and grandfathers received after World War II. I am proud to have served this great nation as a U.S. Marine, proud of the service of both my father and my brother, and proud to be the father of a serving U.S. Marine.
As long as I represent Virginians in the United States Senate, I will make it a priority to help protect our brave men and women in uniform.
Senator Webb (D-VA), is a Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War and former Secretary of the Navy, serves on the Senate Committees on Foreign Relations, Armed Services and Veterans Affairs, as well as the Joint Economic Committee.