Veterans return to school, form support group at Elgin Community College
Bonded by their common interests, a growing number of veterans at Elgin Community College recently formed a new club at the school: Military Branches United.
But what is new is really old.
Not only have veterans had a presence at the college before, they have been a major factor in its formation. It’s a group whose enrollment has been buoyed by the G.I. Bill of Rights, then as now.
“The original G.I. Bill was historic and one of two of the best pieces of legislation ever passed, the second being the G.I. Home Loan program, said John Carr, superintendent of the Kane County Veterans Assistance Commission. “This G.I. Bill allowed the returning World War II vets the opportunity to attend college, which up to that point only the elite could afford to attend, and was instrumental in building the economic engine that made the United States a world power.”
According to information on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website, the G.I. Bill of Rights or Veterans Readjustment Act of 1944 allowed all honorably discharged veterans who served at least 90 days to have their tuition, books and fees paid, as well as receive a monthly stipend. No preference was given to rank, no financial test was applied, and there was a minimum of red tape.
Locally, the University of Illinois met this growing need by establishing about 30 branch campuses across the state, according to “The Community College: 60 Years of Elgin Community College” published in 2009 for the college’s 60th anniversary. One of these branches opened at Elgin High School in 1946.