GI Bill Restoration Actwould repair the economic harms experienced by Black WWII veterans and military families denied access to the full range of GI Bill benefits
Earlier this year, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn and Congressman Seth Moulton introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives
Senator Reverend Warnock: “By creating a fair and inclusive path to these essential resources, we are upholding our commitment to these heroes and building a more equitable future for the next generation of men and women in uniform”
Washington, D.C. – Today, ahead of Veteran’s Day 2023, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) reintroduced legislation to repair the economic harms experienced by Black World War II veterans and their families who were denied access to the full range of GI Bill benefits. The GI Bill Restoration Act would allow the family members of Black World War II veterans to access the VA home loan guarantee, provide educational assistance benefits, and establish a study to fix inequities in how benefits are given to female and minority members of the Armed Forces.
“Our servicemembers and veterans are the best among us, and as a champion for all Georgians in the U.S. Senate, I will continue working to ensure they are afforded the full rights and benefits they are owed for their service to our nation–and that includes rectifying past wrongs that still impact veterans and their families in the present,” said Senator Reverend Warnock.“The GI Bill Restoration Act is a beacon of justice and opportunity for our veterans’ surviving family members, ensuring they have access to housing and education benefits they have already earned without unnecessary barriers. By creating a fair and inclusive path to these essential resources, we are upholding our commitment to these heroes and building a more equitable future.”
“We can never undo the injustices that befell Black World War II veterans who were wrongfully denied the original G.I. Bill benefits due to their race. However, we can begin to make amends by offering housing and education benefits to their descendants,” said Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn. “This legislation will honor our commitments to the nation’s heroes and restore the possibility of full economic mobility for those that the original G.I. Bill left behind.”
“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 Congressman Seth 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. I’m grateful for Senator Warnock’s leadership on this in the Senate, and I look forward to working together to move this ground-breaking legislation forward.”
Specifically, the GI Bill Restoration Act would:
- Extend access to the VA Loan Guaranty Program to the surviving spouse, child, grandchild, or other direct descendant of African-American World War II veterans who were denied access to this program on the basis of race and alive at the time of this bill’s enactment;
- Waive the loan fee associated with the VA Loan Guaranty Program for the surviving spouse and children of African-American World War II veterans;
- Authorize the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a down-payment assistance program for the surviving spouses and children of African-American World War II veterans who participate in the VA Loan Guaranty Program;
- Extend access to the Post-911 GI Bill educational assistance benefits to the surviving spouse, child, grandchild, or other direct descendant of African-American World War II veterans alive at the time of this bill’s enactment;
- Require a GAO report outlining the number of individuals who received the educational and housing assistance; and
- Establish a Blue-Ribbon Panel of independent experts to study inequities in the distribution of benefits and assistance administered to female and minority members of the Armed Forces and provide recommendations on additional assistance to repair those inequities.
The GI Bill, signed into law in 1944, sought to compensate veterans for compulsory service, encourage voluntary service, avoid veteran unemployment, and provide equitable benefits to all who served. It accomplished these goals through several programs, including financing veterans’ education and insuring veterans’ home mortgages. But because of the discrimination Black servicemembers faced in segregated America and because of intentionally discriminatory policies and programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and in various States who administered many of these programs, many Black servicemembers were not able to access the full benefits afforded to them for their service. A segregated postwar U.S. society severely limited Black veterans’ higher education opportunities, particularly as the administration of G.I. Bill benefits was largely under state and local control, entrusting locally appointed VA officials with dispensing benefits.
In addition to Senator Warnock, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ron Wyden, (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Patty Murray (D-WA). Earlier this year, Assistant Democratic Leader James E. Clyburn and Congressman Seth Moulton introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives, demonstrating bicameral support for the bill.
Senator Warnock has long been a champion in the Senate for all of Georgia’s veterans, servicemembers, and military families. In September, Senator Warnock led a bipartisan resolution honoring families of fallen servicemembers, designating the week of September 24-30, 2023, as Gold Star Families Remembrance Week. This year, Senator Warnock secured several provisions benefiting Georgia’s military communities in the FY24 annual defense bill currently being considered by the Congress. The bill provides for a 5.2 percent pay raise for both military servicemembers and the Department of Defense (DOD) civilian workforce. It also strengthens Georgia’s military installations and base communities, protects servicemembers from debt collection harassment, improves base housing and base housing access, and expands benefits for surviving spouses. In 2022, Senator Warnock helped to pass the bipartisan PACT Act, the largest expansion of veterans’ health benefits in decades. He was also successful in securing multiple important wins for military families in the FY23 NDAA, including securing two of his provisions in the NDAA that will make housing more affordable for military families, easing the burden of relocation for military families and raising servicemember pay by 4.6%.