A generation of World War II veterans went to school with the G.I. Bill, boosting enrollment in colleges several fold, building national wealth, and, in the process, creating the middle class. But despite the program’s acknowledged rate of return for the country, today’s G.I. Bill is a shadow of its former self. That could change, however: Several plans to strenghten it are moving through Congress, made urgent by the hardships facing veterans of the Iraq War.
On National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition” today, reporter John McChesney interviewed WW II vets who benefitted from the G.I. Bill, including former Sen. George McGovern and film director Arthur Penn.
For Penn, whose directorial credits include Bonnie and Clyde, Alice’s Restaurant and Little Big Man, the G.I. Bill made it possible to study at Black Mountain College, surrounded by artistic visionaries including Buckminster Fuller, John Cage and Merce Cunningham.
“It was just an extraordinary place,” said Penn in the interview. Before the G.I. Bill was passed in 1944, “College was simply not anything I thought of,” he said.
To listen to the feature, click here.
— Kent Priestley, staff writer