On Thursday, far-left Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, in an attempt to push the idea that all student debt should be canceled, compared college students to the veterans who have fought for America in wars from World War II to present-day Afghanistan, retweeting a quote that stated, “Imagine what it would do for our country and those who live here if we were to take the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill and apply it to everybody—canceling all student debt and making public colleges, universities, and vocational schools tuition-free.”
“Imagine what it would do for our country and those who live here if we were to take the ethos behind the original G.I. Bill and apply it to everybody—canceling all student debt and making public colleges, universities, and vocational schools tuition-free.” 💪🏽 https://t.co/P6LNRv6h9w
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) February 7, 2020
The GI Bill was passed by Congress in 1944. Warren Atherton, the National Commander of the American Legion, noted the varied resolutions adopted by the Legion at their 1943 National Convention in Omaha, and discussed them with Francis Sullivan, the Legion’s Acting Legislative Director. Atherton said later, “Francis Sullivan told me that our most urgent problem was for right then, not later. Cash was needed for disabled, discharged veterans. Hundreds were being released weekly without a cent in their pockets and no provision for support or care. Hundreds of thousands of service records had already been destroyed in little incidents on land and sea. Under then existing laws, the services were not paying discharges whose records weren’t in order. Service pay for some was a year and more in arrears.”
Atherton spoke to the House Veterans Affairs and demanded that $500 mustering-out pay be paid to all dischargees immediately so that they could survive. The Hearst newspapers entered the fray, supporting the American Legion. Jack Cejl1ar, the Legion’s acting Director of Public Relations, stated, “It’s a bill of rights. The GI Bill of Rights!”
The Department of Veterans Affairs delineates how powerful the GI Bill was:
Before the war, college and homeownership were, for the most part, unreachable dreams for the average American. Thanks to the GI Bill, millions who would have flooded the job market instead opted for education. In the peak year of 1947, Veterans accounted for 49 percent of college admissions. By the time the original GI Bill ended on July 25, 1956, 7.8 million of 16 million World War II Veterans had participated in an education or training program. Millions also took advantage of the GI Bill’s home loan guaranty. From 1944 to 1952, VA backed nearly 2.4 million home loans for World War II Veterans.
The Department states, “Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped qualifying Veterans and their family members get money to cover all or some of the costs for school or training.”
Over 290,000 U.S. soldiers died in World War II. Over 33,000 more died in the Korean War. Over 47,000 died in the Vietnam War. Over 240 died in the 1983 attack on a barracks in Lebanon by Islamic fundamentalists. Roughly 150 died in the Gulf War. Over 1,800 have died in Afghanistan. Over 3,800 died in the war in Iraq.
Chris Manning, who served in Afghanistan and ran for Congress in 2018, had a succinct response for Omar, tweeting, “I’m a recipient of the GI Bill. The GI Bill was earned by agreeing to serve my country for six years and to put my life at risk as an infantryman in Afghanistan. It wasn’t something just given to me with nothing expected in return. Don’t cheapen our sacrifice w/ this comparison.”
I'm a recipient of the GI Bill. The GI Bill was earned by agreeing to serve my country for six years and to put my life at risk as an infantryman in Afghanistan. It wasn't something just given to me with nothing expected in return. Don't cheapen our sacrifice w/ this comparison. pic.twitter.com/4CNspm8gXt
— Chris Manning (@Manning4USCong) February 7, 2020
My dad was a WWII vet who went to Brown University on the GI Bill. He still worked as a truck driver on the side to pay for his family's food and housing while attending school full time.
He didn't get "free" college. He paid his way with his service to the nation. https://t.co/lRQ6oRsck5
— Cam Edwards (@CamEdwards) February 7, 2020