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Failing Our VeteransThe G.I. Bill and the Vietnam Generation$
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Mark Boulton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814724873

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814724873.001.0001

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For the Wounded and the Worthy

For the Wounded and the Worthy

Veterans’ Benefits from the Early Republic to the Vietnam Era

(p.19) 1 For the Wounded and the Worthy
Failing Our Veterans

Mark Boulton

NYU Press

This chapter traces the history of federal debates over war veterans' benefits from the early Republic to the Vietnam era. After discussing the origins of offering compensation for the hazards of military service, the chapter considers the evolution of the G.I. Bills and the controversies surrounding them. It shows that, for ideological and economic reasons, the provision of veterans' benefits has been a contested issue in American politics since the Civil War. It also examines arguments by politicians from Thomas Jefferson through Franklin D. Roosevelt that military service should be a natural obligation of citizenship rather than a basis for ongoing federal benefits, along with claims that the cost of benefits placed an unnecessary financial burden on the government. Finally, it explains how the enactment of the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 paved the way for a model that provides benefits to future generations of veterans.

Keywords:   war veterans, Vietnam, compensation, military service, G.I. Bills, veterans' benefits, politics, Civil War, citizenship, Servicemen's Readjustment Act 1944

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