Democrats in Congress are presenting a bill that would compensate the families of Black American WWII troops who were denied GI Bill payments.
On Veterans Day, House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) proposed the GI Bill Restoration Act.
The Act would provide a transferrable benefit to descendants of Black WWII veterans that could be utilized to get housing, attend college, or establish a business
The bill would give surviving spouses and direct descendants of Black veterans who were alive at the time the measure went into force access to GI Bill educational assistance benefits. It would also make the VA Loan Guaranty Program, which assists veterans and their surviving spouses in obtaining home loans, more accessible. Because most state and local veteran administrations were run by racist white officials, Black veterans had restricted access to GI Bill benefits, the senators said.
In a statement, Congressman Clyburn said, “We must rectify what happened not only to Sgt. Woodard, but to all the Black World War II veterans who were treated unjustly when they returned home from serving their country and denied their GI Bill benefits.”
“We all know that the quickest way to build wealth is through education and homeownership. So many Black families were denied this path to the middle class. It is important to acknowledge this injustice and help address the wealth gap that was exacerbated by the government’s failure to fulfill this promise to World War II veterans of color,” Clyburn added.
The bill would compel the Government Accountability Office to appoint a panel of independent experts to examine inequalities in the distribution of GI Bill benefits to minority and female service members.
Most Americans are unaware of how many Black veterans were refused GI Bill benefits despite putting their lives on the line, according to Moulton, who wrote the bill.
“We all know the GI Bill lifted up a generation of WWII veterans and built the American century. It’s been called the most successful piece of legislation ever. But most Americans don’t know that many Black veterans were left out: denied benefits, denied homes, denied the generational wealth that comes from going to college,” said Moulton. “We can never fully repay those American heroes. But we can fix this going forward for their families.
While our generation didn’t commit this wrong, we should be committed to making it right. This legislation honors our nation’s commitment to America’s vets.”