Honoring the GI Bill's author

On March 3, legislation was introduced that seeks to honor the author and recipients of the GI Bill with a Congressional Gold Medal for their exemplary service to the country. H.R. 4745, the Achievements of the GI Bill Gold Medal Act, was introduced by Rep. Dennis Moore, D-Kan., and currently has 44 co-sponsors.

This legislation would award the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of the World War II veterans who used provisions of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 - commonly referred to as the ‘GI Bill of Rights' - in recognition of the great contributions they made to the nation in both their military and civilian service. The bill would also recognize the contributions of American Legion Past National Commander Harry W. Colmery in writing the first draft of the bill and leading grassroots efforts that led to the enactment. The American Legion has long honored Colmery's exemplary service to the country and his life-long passion for America's veterans.

In 1943, the country faced an unprecedented number of servicemen and women returning from World War II to civilian life - more than 16 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines. During an emergency meeting in Washington, D.C., leaders of The American Legion addressed the concerns of returning service personnel, and Colmery crafted the initial draft of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944. This pioneering legislation, signed by President Franklin Roosevelt in June 1944, helped GIs buy homes, start businesses, and attend college or technical school after their return from World War II. In the decade following World War II, more than 2 million men and women went to college using the GI Bill; another 5 million received other schooling or job training.

The GI Bill of Rights has been heralded as one of the most significant pieces of legislation ever enacted by the federal government, one that has impacted the country socially, economically and politically. That impact is still felt today by the servicemembers returning from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are able to receive educational benefits due to the advocacy of Colmery.The American Legion is calling upon Congress to join with Moore in support of H.R. 4745. Members of The American Legion family are asked to contact their representative through the Capitol Hill switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask them to become co-sponsors of H.R. 4745; if they are already cosponsors, thank them for their support.