Steve Gonzalez, assistant director of The American Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Division, spoke at VA's GI Bill anniversary event at the George Washington University on June 23. (Photo by Marty Callaghan)

Legion attends VA’s GI Bill anniversary event

The Department of Veterans Affairs celebrated the 70th anniversary of the GI Bill at a June 23 event on the George Washington University campus with featured speaker VA Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson.

Originally drafted by The American Legion, the GI Bill (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944) was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 22, 1944. It enabled about 20 million World War II veterans to buy houses and earn college degrees, thereby helping to create America’s postwar middle class.

Steve Gonzalez, assistant director of the Legion’s Veterans Employment & Education Division, also spoke at the event. He reminded the audience that the GI Bill was “drafted on stationery at Washington’s Mayflower Hotel by Harry Colmery, a World War I veteran and past national commander of The American Legion. The provisions of the GI Bill reflected the input of a committee of prominent Legionnaires.”

Gonzalez quoted Colmery’s own words: “The American Legion proposed this first (GI) bill because we believe it to be the duty, the responsibility, and the desire of our grateful people to see to it that those who served actively in the Armed Services in the war … should be aided in reaching that position which they might normally have expected to achieve, had the war not interrupted their careers.”

Gibson said, “What we’re really celebrating here today (is) lives that are being changed, society being changed, America being changed – all for the better. That’s really what the history of the GI Bill is all about.” Referring to a group of young veterans in the audience, all going to school on the Post-9/11 GI Bill, he said, “Like the Greatest Generation before you, our latest generation is poised to make their mark on America. And my confident forecast is that you will.”

Responding to a question from the press about the cost of the current GI Bill – $41 billion over five years – Gibson said he couldn’t imagine Congress stepping back from continuing to fund veterans education benefits. “What we’re talking about are successful outcomes for veterans.”

Gonzalez added that “it’s more than just economics; it’s more about the readjustment. The GI Bill, especially now with the drawdown, is more vital than ever to ensure that we continue to have that commitment.”


  1. I am a compliance officer for the U.S. Department of Labor (Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs and I would like to be representing the OFCCP and partnering with your organization at special outreach events to educate the population of Protected Veterans in Puerto Rico about what the OFCCP's does to find and protect the employment opportunities for Veterans. The purpose of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is to enforce, for the benefit of job seekers and wage earners, the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government. On September 24, 2013, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs published a Final Rule in the Federal Register that makes changes to the regulations implementing the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended (VEVRAA) at 41 CFR Part 60-300. VEVRAA prohibits federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment against protected veterans, and requires these employers to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain these veterans. The new rule strengthens the affirmative action provisions of the regulations to aid contractors in their efforts to recruit and hire protected veterans and improve job opportunities for protected veterans. The new regulations require that contractors establish annual hiring benchmarks for protected veterans. Alternatively, contractors may establish their own benchmarks using certain data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and Veterans’ Employment and Training Service/Employment and Training Administration (VETS/ETA) that is also published by OFCCP, as well other factors that reflect the contractor’s unique hiring circumstances. The data is posted in the Benchmark Database, below. The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs is also collaborating with Ms. Yolanda Piovanetti – Senior Employment Coordinator for the Department of Veterans Affairs to educate and prepare veterans to get employment opportunities. Please let the Department of Labor (Office of Federal Contracts and Compliance Programs participate with your organization at special events for protected veterans and employers. I believe joining forces we can help protected veterans transitioning from military to civilian life. Together we can make this transition smoother in re-entering civilian life and finding employment. Sincerely, Gilbert L. Sepulveda Compliance Officer U.S. Department of Labor Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs 525 F.D. Roosevelt, Suite 1202 San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918 (787) 771-1458
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