G. I. Bill of Rights


By BRIG. GEN. FRANK T. HINES. Administrator of Veterans Affairs and Administrator of Retraining and Reemployment

Delivered at the 26th Annual National Convention of The American Legion, Chicago, Ill., September 19, 1944

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XI, pp. 57-62

IT is always a pleasure for me to address my friends of The American Legion. Before I start my address, however, I have a message of personal greeting for you from the President of the United States. President Roosevelt is deeply interested in your welfare, and hopes that you may have a most successful convention.

Old time Legionnaires in this Convention will recall that I first addressed a National Convention of The American Legion 21 years ago, a short time after I was appointed Director of the Veterans Bureau in 1923.

I have been addressing your National Convention ever since that time, as well, more recently your National Executive Committee meetings and the meetings of your National Rehabilitation Committee.

I always enjoy meeting my old friends in the Legion, and there is no question that I receive as much information from these gatherings as I impart to your members.

Your Twenty-sixth Annual National Convention now in session, meets almost to the day a quarter of a century after the Legion was officially chartered by Act of Congress. You are now the largest and most powerful veterans organization which has existed any place at any time in the history of the world. I am informed that counting the devoted women of your Auxiliary, that your membership is now well over the 2 million mark.

Among these are about a quarter of a million veterans of the present war. I congratulate you upon taking them into your ranks. Each of you will benefit from the association. You have much in common and I do not doubt that there are a great many father-son combinations among your membership.

One of the finest and most unselfish things which the Legion has ever done, in my judgment, was to conceive, formulate, and take a leading part in the enactment of the G. I. Bill of Rights. This is a measure not for the benefit of yourselves, but for the benefit of your sons, nephews, and other young relatives and those of your neighbors, who are fighting World War II.

The G. I. Bill of Rights also incorporated many other excellent provisions including that of declaring the Veterans

Administration to be an essential war agency and entitled, second only to the War and Navy Departments, to priorities in personnel, equipment, supplies and material under any laws, executive orders, and regulations pertaining to priorities. The Act further declared that in appointments of personnel from Civil Service registers the Administrator of Veterans Affairs is granted the same authority and discretion as the War and Navy Departments and the United States Public Health Service.

G. I. Bill of Rights

The general eligibility requirements for the three new benefits under the G. I. Bill (which are educational opportunities, loans, guarantee of loans and employment or readjustment allowances) are service in the active military service on or after September 16, 1940 and prior to the end of the war, discharge or release therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable after 90 days' service, or if sooner discharged for disability incurred in line of duty.

Any such eligible person shall be entitled to education or training, or a refresher or retraining course, at an approved educational or training institution, for a period of one year (or the equivalent thereof in continuous part-time study), or for such lesser time as may be required for the course of instruction chosen by him.

Upon satisfactory completion of such course of education or training, according to the regularly prescribed standards and practices of the institutions, except a refresher or retraining course, such person shall be entitled to an additional period or periods of education or training, not to exceed the time such person was in the active service on or after September 16, 1940, and before the termination of the war, exclusive of any period he was assigned for a course of education or training under the Army specialized training program or the Navy college training program, which course was a continuation of his civilian course and was pursued to completion, or as a cadet or midshipman at one of the service academies, but in no event shall the total period of education or training exceed four years:

Provided, That his work continues to be satisfactory throughout the period, according to the regularly prescribed standards and practices of the institution: Provided, however, That wherever the additional period of instruction ends during a quarter or semester and after a major part of such quarter or semester has expired, such period of instruction shall be extended to the termination of such unexpired quarter or semester.

Such person shall, be eligible for and entitled to such course of education or training as he may elect, and at any approved educational or training institution at which he chooses to enroll, whether or not located in the State in which he resides, which will accept or retain him as a student or trainee in any field or branch of knowledge which such institution finds him qualified to undertake or pursue:

Provided, That, for reasons satisfactory to the Administrator, he may change a course of instruction: And provided further, That any such course of education or training may be discontinued at any time, if it is found by the Administrator that, according to the regularly prescribed standards and practices of the institution, the conduct or progress of such person is unsatisfactory.

The law further provides that any person who was not over 25 years of age at the time he entered the service shall be deemed to have had his education or training impeded, delayed, interrupted, or interfered with.

The Veterans Administration shall use those educational and training institutions which are approved by the appropriate agency of each State and will not be disposed to approve any other institution except under extraordinary conditions.

Recently I appointed a special committee of consultant specialists composed of outstanding educators in this country to consider the problems affecting the vocational rehabilitation and the education and training of veterans. In their recent deliberations in Washington this committee recommended that the Veterans Administration pay the charges for tuition, laboratory, library, health, infirmary and other similar fees customarily made by the approved institution for any student who pursues the particular course of training except that the charge for the tuition fee of a full-time veteran trainee shall not be less than $10 per month, $30 per quarter or $40 per semester.

This committee also recommended that in the case of State and Municipal colleges or universities the charges for tuition, laboratory, library, health, infirmary and other similar fees should be determined for all veteran trainees as the charges customarily made to non-resident students which were in effect prior to June 22, 1944, except that the charge for the tuition fee of a full-time veteran trainee shall not be less than $10 per month, $30 per quarter or $40 per semester, provided that the charges are not in conflict with existing laws or other legal requirements.

I approved these recommendations and the necessary instructions have been issued to our regional offices effective September 11, 1944. Of course, all payments are subject to the provision of the law which requires that they may not be in excess of $500 for an ordinary school year in respect to any person.

While the veteran is enrolled in and pursuing a course of training under this law, upon his application the Veterans Administration will pay him a subsistence allowance of $50 per month if without a dependent or dependents or $75 per month if he has a dependent or dependents.

On July 1, 1944, 8 days after the passage of the law, there were issued preliminary instructions for instituting the program for education and training.

Approximately 10,000 veterans have applied for training under this law and about 5,600 of them have been determined eligible and they are now perhaps waiting for schools to open this month and October. There are 442 now taking educational benefits.

The educational and training benefits under the G. I. Bill were designed for the purpose of aiding non-disabled veterans and should not be confused with the vocational rehabilitation benefits for disabled veterans which I shall refer to in a few minutes.

As you know, the G. I. Bill of Rights provides that private or Governmental (State or Federal) lending agencies, or individuals may make loans to qualified veterans and that the United States will guarantee not to exceed 50 per cent of the loan but not to exceed $2,000.

The loan must not bear interest in excess of the rate of 4 per cent per annum. Loans may be made if the proceeds are to be used for the construction or purchase or repair of a home for the veteran, the purchase or improvement of a farm or building or equipment to be used by the veteran in farming, or for the purchase or. establishment of a business, or for equipment, machinery or tools to be used by the veteran in pursuing a gainful occupation.

I think that most of you realize that contracts made under this law may run for not to exceed 20 years, so that it behooves the Government to be absolutely sure of its ground in working out the regulations which will govern all phases of operations in connection with these loans in the 48 states, the several territories and the District of Columbia, and inorder that each lender or borrower may know the exact terms of his contract.

It must be remembered in this connection that Congress had in mind—and it is our endeavor to follow this Congressional intent—that secondary loans would be permissible only in certain circumstances, and that the various mortgage laws, which differ in the states, have to be taken into consideration in the fundamental regulations.

I am glad to say that these fundamental regulations have now been worked out in principle, and that they will be submitted to the various cooperating agencies, including those of the Government which may be involved in the processing of loans under joint agreements. We hope to have most of the answers very soon. I think I should emphasize that general over-all control and responsibility is retained in the Veterans Administration, but that the services of existing agencies, to the extent they are equipped and willing to determine and recommend with respect to whether applications for guaranty of loans should be approved, will be utilized by the Veterans Administration.

What we desire to work out, and hope to accomplish, is that a qualified veteran may go to his bank, or Federal or other lending agency or even an individual, and with the Government guarantee make a loan, for any one or more of the purposes authorized by the Act, and with the minimum of delay or red tape.

Such, I am confident, was the intention of Congress, and it is our purpose to exert every effort to see that this intention is fulfilled.

The unemployment feature of the bill is known as readjustment allowances. The allowance provided is $20 for any week of unemployment or such amount less any wages received in excess of $3 for any week of partial employment, which week occurs not later than two years after discharge or release from active service or the termination of the war, whichever is the later date.

The total number of weeks of eligibility of a veteran for readjustment allowances is dependent upon his length of service. For the first three months of service, a veteran may be entitled to eight weeks of allowances for each of these first three months, and thereafter is entitled to allowances at the rate of four weeks for each month of active service during the period September 16, 1940 to the end of the war. The maximum number of weeks to which an eligible veteran may be entitled under the law is fifty-two.

The provisions of the act relating to readjustment allowances is now in effect, and the regulations governing the payment of allowances through state unemployment agencies have been promulgated. Applications for allowances are made through the various local employment offices throughout the United States. Veterans desirous of making applications for allowances must be available and able to work and must register for employment through one of the local offices of the United States Employment Service in order to establish eligibility. Veterans filing applications through these local employment offices are cautioned to present their discharge papers at the time of making application. This is necessary requirement for them to establish eligibility under the law.

The various state unemployment compensation agencies in the respective states are cooperating with the Veterans Administration in the administration of Title V of the act. These various agencies function on a cooperative basis with the local employment offices. Veterans seeking information with respect to their rights and entitlements under Title V may obtain information by contacting the local office of the employment service nearest their place of residence.

The law also makes provisions for unemployment allowances to veterans who are self employed. Those veterans engaged in self employment, that is for themselves, and whose net earnings are less than $100 per month, may be entitled to readjustment allowances under the act.

In the enactment of the provisions of Title IV of the G. I. Bill, the Congress declares as its intent and purpose that there shall be an effective job counseling and employment placement service for veterans, and that to this end, policies shall be promulgated and administered so as to provide for them the maximum of job opportunity in the field of gainful employment.

For this purpose there is created to cooperate with and assist the United States Employment Service, a Veterans' Placement Service Board, which consists of the Administrator of Veterans' Affairs as Chairman: the Director of the National Selective Service System, and the Administrator of the Federal Security Agency, or whoever may have the responsibility of administering the functions of the United States Employment Service.

The Board shall determine all matters of policy relating to the administration of the Veterans' employment Service. The Chairman of the Board shall have direct authority and responsibility to carry out his policies through the veterans' employment representatives in the several states, and the Chairman may delegate such authority to an executive secretary who shall be appointed by him and who shall thereupon be the Chief of the Veterans' Employment Service of the United States Employment Service.

Although the employment features of the bill have to do primarily with veterans of the present war, all war veterans are granted the same employment assistance.

An appropriate pamphlet will be available at Information Centers, Office of the United States Employment Service, Selective Service and the Veterans Administration, containing sufficient information relative to the benefits to which a veteran is entitled and the places where they may be obtained. At the time of discharge or release from the service, the veteran is also given a pamphlet of a similar nature by the armed services.

Mr. Commander, I think most of us realize that the ample character and broad variety of benefits which our Government provides for the relief of our disabled veterans of the present war, are a far cry from the European concept of such measures in past centuries, when an emperor rewarded his disabled veterans with tin cups, and the license to beg alms on the highways and streets of his empire.

But I do not think it is generally realized that the benefits now supplied are much more adequate than those which were available to the disabled veterans of World War I, at the time that conflict with Germany was terminated by the Armistice of 26 years ago.

I would remind you in this connection that the War Risk Insurance Act, upon which major benefits for the last war were based, was hailed at its enactment in 1917 as the most enlightened veterans' relief measure in our national history— which it was indeed in fact, at that time.

Present disability laws follow the general pattern set in 1917, but the sums of money now provided are much greater than those originally planned by the men who conceived their provisions in the beginning.

Some examples of the extent to which money payments have been increased, are illustrated by the following comparative figures:

At the end of the last war or in 1918, a widow received $25 a month. A widow of the present war receives $50 a month, or double that former amount.

A widow with one child received $35 a month in 1918. A widow with one child now receives $65 a month.

A widowed mother in 1918, received $20 a month. A dependent mother now receives $45 a month.

The increase in the amounts payable for various disabilities are even more striking. Examples of these are as follows: A single man who was totally disabled in 1918 received $30 a month. Such a man now receives $115 a month.

If this man were so helpless as to require an attendant, he received $20 a month extra, or $50 altogether, in 1918. Such a man now receives $165 a month.

A man who lost both eyes received $100 a month in 1918. Such a man now receives $190 a month.

Many other comparisons might be given, but the ones I have chosen illustrate the great advances which a quarter of a century has brought, in the sums payable to veterans on account of disability and death due to service.

The larger sums I have mentioned are now also payable on account of death and disability due to service in the last war, the Congress having equalized the payments as between the two World Wars.

It will be seen therefore that financial benefits for disabled World War II veterans, and dependents, are starting out at the rates which it took World War I veterans and dependents 26 years to obtain.

These payments it must be remembered are on account of service connected disability and death. The equalization which I have referred to, also pertains now to nonservice-connected payments.

In 1930 the Congress provided nonservice-connected disability pensions in certain cases for veterans of the last war, and a few years later provided nonservice-connected death pensions for widows and children, where a veteran with a service-connected disability dies of other causes.

Under Public Laws 313 and 312, approved last May 27, the Congress increased the pension rates in both these cases, and extended eligibility to them to the veterans and dependents of the present war. The amounts, and the conditions under which these pensions are payable on account of service in both world wars, are:

Nonservice-Connected Disability Pensions

The nonservice-connected disability pension rate is $50 a month; but for those who have been on the rolls ten years, or attained the age of 65, the rate is $60 a month.

These nonservice-connected pensions are payable only to veterans who served 90 days or more, or if less than 90 days were discharged for disability in line of duty and who are permanently and totally disabled from nonservice-connected disability, whose annual income if unmarried does not exceed $1,000, or if married or with minor children does not exceed $2,500.

Nonservice-Connected Death Pensions

These nonservice-connected death pensions are for cases where veterans with service-connected disability die from other causes.

The rates are: widow, $35 a month; widow with one child, $45 a month; with additional children $5 a month each. For one orphan (no widow) $18 a month; two orphans $27 a month; three orphans $36 a month, with additional orphans $4 a month each.

The nonservice-connected pensions cannot be paid to a widow without children, or an orphan, whose income exceeds $1,000; or to a widow with a child or children whose income exceeds $2,500. Parents are not eligible to these nonservice-connected death pensions.

As you are aware the Congress last year granted hospitalization regardless of service connection for disability to veterans of the present war, including Wacs, Waves, Spars, and women members of the Marine Corp.

This hospitalization for nonservice-connected disability was not granted to veterans of World War I until 1924.

Thus, before the termination of the present war, the same right to hospitalization for nonservice-connected disability has been granted to our young war veterans, which was not granted to veterans of World War I, until five and one-half years after the end of that war.

Vocational Rehabilitation

You probably realize that the great demand for workers in war industries, and the relatively high wages paid, has resulted in only a comparatively few eligible veterans taking advantage of our Vocational Rehabilitation training program for the disabled. When a disabled man's clinical papers are reviewed in connection with a claim for pension, if it is found that his service-connected disability has resulted in a vocational handicap, he is forwarded an application blank so that he may make a claim for Vocational Rehabilitation.

Up to the present time these application blanks have been mailed to 149,600 eligibles but only 26,204 of the application blanks have been returned to us in the form of claims. We now have 3,590 men in training and 76 have completed their training courses, most of those having been trained on the job. About two-thirds of those in training are taking the institutional training and about one-third taking job training.

After the war is over and the intense demand for workers no longer exists, we expect that many thousands of eligible young men will apply for Vocational Rehabilitation training.

The courses may last as long as 4 years. While the man is in training his pension is increased to $92 a month if single and $103.50 a month if married, with additional payments for dependents.

We are preparing against the time when many disabled men may apply for training in many parts of the United States. As you know, we have the definite responsibility of counseling and guiding these men into the courses best adapted to their abilities and in which they would be most likely to attain success. Until recently, these counseling centers have been restricted to our Regional Offices and our Facilities with Regional Office activities, 53 in number altogether.

In order to augment these we are now establishing counseling services in colleges and universities where trained personnel and excellent equipment will give the very highest type of service in assisting a disabled man to choose a new career in which to earn a livelihood. These universities counseling centers will not replace the services now being rendered—they will be additional to them and will be especially valuable after demobilization when applications will show a considerable increase.


The Veterans Administration is now conducting the largest insurance company in the world under the National Service Life Insurance Act of October 8, 1940. This authorizes life insurance for each person in the armed forces who applies therefor in an amount not to exceed $10,000. Some 16 million applications have been received, some of them duplicates in that they apply for increased insurance on the same person, and the total insurance coverage under such applications is in excess of 121 billion dollars.

During his first 120 days of service, a man may be insured without a new examination. After that he must pass an examination, unless where a man is overseas, on ship or at a port of embarkation, where he cannot be examined fully, the Veterans Administration may take the statement of his Commanding Officer that he is performing full duty and is in good health.

Rates vary according to the man's age but these rates are lower than any private company could afford considering the extra hazards of war. The Government pays all administrative costs and the cost of the extra war hazard. The insurance is initially issued as a 5-year level premium term policy. After it has been in force 1 year, it may be converted to ordinary life, 20 pay life, or 30 pay life which require higher premium payments. No examination is required for conversion and beneficiaries are restricted to wife, children, parents, brother and sister.

Premiums may be deducted from a man's service pay while in the service. After discharge from the service, we strongly urge that veterans keep their National Service Life Insurance in force by forwarding their monthly premiums to the Collection Subdivision, Veterans Administration, Washington 25, D. C., remitting the same amount as the premium which was deducted from service pay. The remittance should be in a form of check or money order, made payable to the Treasurer of the United States.

They should carefully consider converting to some one of the permanent forms of policy.

Mustering out pay has been provided by the Congress varying from $100 to $300 according to the type and length of service rendered. No bonus or adjusted compensation has so far been provided, and I am of the opinion that the constructive provisions of the G. I Bill of Rights will be far more valuable to the younger veterans of this war than the adjusted compensation was to the veterans of the last war.


You are naturally aware that our men in the Armed Forces receive their initial hospitalization in Army and Navy hospitals.

Last March the War Department announced that more than 850 hospitals with nearly half a million beds, were being operated by the Army Service Forces, in the continental United States and overseas excluding some 35,000 beds in overseas mobile units, and roughly 85,000 beds at overseas fixed hospitals which could be used for emergencies.

The Navy has not announced the number of its hospital beds, but I feel confident that like the Army, the number available is sufficient to the needs of the Navy, Coastguard and Marine Corp.

The medical services provided by our Armed Forces are of the highest type and superior to those furnished during the last war. As a consequence of this, a greater per cent of battle casualties are cured and returned to active duty with the Armed Forces, and the percentage of those who die of battle wounds is also much less than in the last war. Blood plasma, sulpha drugs, and combat medical units up in the lines with the troops, are in a great measure responsible for this great saving of life of our wounded.

Where members of the Armed Forces are disabled to such an extent that they can not be returned to duty, Army and Navy hospitals retain them, and give them the most careful and scientific treatment until they are sufficiently cured to receive medical discharges and be returned to their homes or transferred to veterans hospitals. Our veteran hospitals up to date have received only a comparatively few battle casualties form Army and Navy hospitals. However, it should be kept in mind that should these men require further care, they can enter our hospitals immediately or receive outpatient treatment for their disabilities, whichever seems advisable for particular cases.

Different situations confront those who develop tuberculosis or neuropsychiatric disease in the Armed Forces. Neither the Army nor the Navy are prepared to retain large numbers of these men and in consequence we are hospitalizing more of these two groups for service-connected disabilities than for battle casualties.

At the present time, we have 94 hospitals with 89,000 beds, some of which are for domiciliary patients.

On June 30, 1941, approximately six months before Pearl Harbor, there were available in Facilities operated by the Veterans' Administration a total of 61,849 hospital beds, as compared with 74,168 hospital beds on July 31, 1944. This total includes 8,774 emergency beds.

A distribution of these beds by types is as follows: T. B. 6,493; General Medical and Surgical 26,641 and N. P. 41,034. The patient load on June 30, 1941, totaled 58,417, and on July 31, 1944, 64,742. The total number of hospital beds available represents an increase of approximately 20% over 1941, while the patients under hospitalization represent an increase of only 10.8%.

In addition to the hospital beds now available, 9,271 additional beds will be obtained when construction and certain rearrangement of space now under way are completed. Of this number, projects providing 5,228 N. P. beds; 407 T. B. beds and 110 General Medical and Surgical beds are scheduled for completion prior to December 31 of this year. Construction work will be started within the next seven to eight months on approximately 9,500 additional beds which include all which are now authorized.

Between June 30, 1941 and June 30, 1944, a total of $58,234,500 has been appropriated for the erection of additional Veterans' Administration Facilities.

In compliance with Section 101 of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, the Veterans' Administration, submitted to the Federal Board of Hospitalization an estimate and program covering the hospital needs of the Veterans* Administration up to and including June 30, 1947. This program covered the estimated requirements for additional N. P., General Medical and Surgical and T. B. facilities, and provided for the acquisition by new construction or by transfer from the Army and Navy of a total of 27,630 beds, divided by types as follows: 8,610 N. P., 13,970 General Medical and Surgical, and 5,050 T. B.

Among the projects included were new hospitals for New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware, the only three States at present without veterans' facilities. It is anticipated that of the total of 27,630 beds that will be required, 2,050 T. B., 500 N. P. and 1,668 General Medical and Surgical will be attained by transfer from the Army and Navy.

After the termination of the present war, the Veterans' Administration expect to acquire from the Army and Navy sufficient beds to bring our total beds available to 200,000 beds of all types.

We estimate that our peak requirements for beds will not be reached until 1975. Between the end of the war and that date, we estimate that we shall construct or acquire gradually another 100,000 beds, which would give us a grand total of 300,000 beds of all types.

I think most of you are aware that the chief demand for our beds over the past 20 years has been for the nonservice-connected cases, and the program which I have just outlined to you is designed to meet the need for nonservice-connected cases as well as service-connected cases. Since veteran hospitalization without regard to service-connection was authorized in 1924, we have hospitalized 2,900,000 cases, 900.000 of which were for service-connected disabilities and 2,000,000 for nonservice-connected disabilities. So far as the veterans of the present war are concerned, the ratio of service-connected cases to nonservice-connected cases hospitalized, has beenabout one to two and one-half. As to our present sufficiency of hospital beds, I will make this statement to you: None of the Managers of any of our hospitals has reported to me that they have refused hospitalization to any veterans on account of a shortage of hospital beds. Some cases are in State Hospitals which we hope will soon be transferred to Government Hospitals.

Thanks to our gallant troops, air force and navy, our superb leadership, efficient supply lines and matchless production—plus the efforts of our gallant allies—victory in Europe would seem to be within our grasp in the not too distant future.

We have confidence this time the mistakes of a quarter of a century ago will not be repeated. Our terms are unconditional surrender. This time American doughboys will march down the streets of Berlin.

With victory just ahead of us, we must give serious thoughts to gaining a lasting peace, both on the home front and in the continent of Europe—a peace which because of its justice and its common sense, will endure throughout the lives of our sons and other young relatives, whose spirit of intrepidity and self-sacrifice will make the victory and peace possible and secure.

No post-war conditions will satisfy Americans—and especially our returning war veterans,—which do not provide full employment, and a maximum of job opportunities on our home front—for all who are willing and able to work.

This will require the active cooperation of Government, industry, labor and management. The efforts of these four partners in prosperity must be integrated and coordinated, to the end that our country will embark upon the greatest era of peacetime prosperity and happiness, which this fruitful land of ours has ever known. All of us must give and take to ensure that this is accomplished.

As Justice Byrnes has said, our present high level of employment and national income, and the maintenance of a sound economy, should be our goal.

I am confident you will find that your Government is doing and will do its full part toward accomplishing this most desirable end.

When victory has been attained, there will be much to be done to make sure that the peace that follows victory will be a lasting peace and that the United States is prepared to make sure that it lasts. The veterans who have served in this war, with their fathers and grandfathers who served in World War I, will undoubtedly take a leading part in the future of America.

We will have problems at home—readjustment problems of great magnitude that will reach down into the smallest communities. Because of the great interest the Legion has taken in community affairs and the work you have already done in mapping future benefits for veterans of World War II, your members will be in a position to take a leading part in bringing to the United States a stronger and better disciplined citizenship. In other words, Legionnaires will be in a position to influence for good the construction of strong communities, truly American homes, and to fight for the ideals which your forefathers intended should be the basis of our Government and of the welfare of our country.

For the first time in five years, the lights in London went on night before last.

Let us hope that this will be the harbinger of a new era for all of us—and that the permanent lights of peace, happiness and prosperity will soon go on throughout the world— not to be extinguished in our time, or in the time of our children's children.

Mr. Commander, I thank you for the opportunity of addressing this patriotic Convention.