Magazine article The Crisis

New GI Bill to Restore Educational Benefits for Soldiers

Magazine article The Crisis

New GI Bill to Restore Educational Benefits for Soldiers

Article excerpt

When Joe Wynn came out of the military in 1974, he wasn't much better off than when he went in. He was back in his hometown of Washington, living with his girlfriend and their two kids, doing the best he could on his cab driver salary. With just a year of college behind him before serving nearly four years in the Vietnam War, Wynn wasn't really qualified to do much.

"Then I started with the, 'Hey, this ain't working out. How can I go back to school?'" Wynn says. "I always knew there was this whole GI Bill education thing, and I just did it."

The GI Bill of Rights was initiated after World War II to provide education, home loans and unemployment benefits to millions of veterans. At the height of its popularity in 1947, veterans accounted for 49 percent of all college admissions.

Wynn used the GI Bill to earn a bachelor's degree in computer information and systems science from Federal City College (now the University of the District of Columbia) and was even able to use some GI Bill funds toward his master's in business management. He's now Washington liaison for the National Association for Black Veterans and runs VETS Group, his own non-profit.

Robert Harris Jr., a World War II veteran, also used the GI bill to attain a college education. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in education.

"Had it not been for the GI Bill, many of the African American soldiers would not have been as successful in their lives. I can attest to that," Harris says. "It really afforded us opportunities that we would not have had. …

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