New Bill Would Provide Benefits to Descendants of Black WWII Veterans Who Were Unable to Take Advantage of Original GI Bill

A bill introduced on Veteran’s Day by House Democrats would provide benefits to descendants of Black World War II veterans who were unable to take advantage of the original GI Bill as a result of racist policies and practices.

Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina and Rep. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts introduced the GI Bill Restoration Act on Nov. 11. The bill would provide descendants a “transferable benefit” in the form of loans, and housing and educational financial assistance.

Tuskegee Airmen stand with an airplane and prepare to receive commissions and wings from Colonel Kimble, Commanding Officer of the Tuskegee Army Flying School, Tuskegee, Alabama, 1942. (Photo by Afro American Newspapers/Gado/Getty Images)

While the original 1944 GI Bill promised a measure of security to veterans and their families in the form of the chance to attend college, buy a home and build generational wealth, Black veterans weren’t rewarded for their sacrifices in the same way, according to a release from Clyburn’s office.

“In practice, generations of Black veterans of World War II and their descendants were robbed of this promise because of Jim Crow and the wide racial disparity in the bill’s implementation,” the statement said.

Co-sponsors of the bill say many Black veterans were excluded from benefits because state and local veterans administrations were generally run by white officials. Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia is set to introduce the legislation in the Senate.

“Racial inequity in how the immense benefits of the original GI Bill were disbursed are well-documented, and we’ve all seen how these inequities have trickled down over time, leaving Black World War II veterans and their families without what they earned through service and sacrifice,” Warnock said in a statement.

“The GI Bill Restoration Act represents a major step toward righting this injustice and repairing the economic harms experienced by Black WWII veterans and their families as a result of discrimination, and will help ensure their descendants can access the full range of GI Bill benefits they earned through their heroic service.”

The full name of the bill, The Sgt. Isaac Woodard, Jr. and Sgt. Joseph H. Maddox GI Bill Restoration Act of 2021, is a recognition of sorts for two heroic Black WWII veterans.

Specifically, the bill would extend the VA Loan guarantee program to descendants and surviving spouses of WWII veterans, which could provide financial assistance for school and job training, starting a business or buying a home.

The bill would also establish the Blue Ribbon Panel “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.”

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