[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]
Here is one paragraph from an article on FDR’s signing of the G.I. Bill, formally known as the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The full article appeared in This Day in History [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-signs-g-i-bill?].
The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.
Also among the millions who have taken advantage of the bill is me. I finished college thanks to the bill and I also took out a home loan on my first house. It was the first single-family home I ever lived in. FDR had the foresight and the guts to invest in the American people. Today many of his programs would be called socialist. They are. They worked. Through Roosevelt’s initiatives America did not fall back into a recession, or worse, after WWII. His treatment of soldiers coming home from the war, in my opinion, was the cherry on the top of his presidency.
Although the war was not fought in America, thousands upon thousands of Americans fought in the war. They interrupted their lives–and some gave their lives–in a cause that did not specifically affect them or their country. The G.I. Bill told them what they needed so badly to hear: Welcome home!
It is incomprehensible to me why our current legislators can’t do anything to help struggling Americans. If democrats propose free community college tuition for all, which they have, republicans call it socialism which we all know is akin to communism which we also know still threatens Western values and would bring about the downfall of civilization as we know it.
There is common ground, and it must be tilled. Washington and Lincoln found it, so did FDR. It may just be coincidental, but these were war presidents. Maybe the ravages of war led them to visions of better times, better times that were achievable. A key difference between the three presidents mentioned above and modern presidents is that the former were trying to end wars, while today’s leaders seem content trying out all the new toys corporations have made for them. Body count be damned.
The purpose and subsequent unprecedented success of the G.I. Bill should inspire today’s leaders. The economy does well when people have jobs, live in decent conditions, pay taxes, purchase goods and services. The time has come to put an end to endless war and say to our troops: Welcome home!