In West Virginia, the economic impact of the post-9/11 G.I. Bill is about $80 million a year, said Skip Gebhart, administrator of veterans' education and training at the state's Higher Education Policy Commission.
Historically, the G.I. Bill has paid back the government $7 for every $1 invested because people get better jobs, Gebhart said. Though the government spends about $11 billion in post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits, it is still making money off the bill, he said.
Veterans are contributing to the state's economy by paying taxes on their wages, he said.
"It's the job creation, it's the money the veterans are spending in West Virginia, they're paying tuition, buying cars, trucks, the whole thing," Gebhart said. "The more qualification you have, the more likely you are to get a job and that's what the G.I. Bill is for."
Unfortunately, when some soldiers return from serving overseas, their job doesn't exist anymore, for a number of reasons, Means said.
More than 8 percent of all veterans are unemployed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Almost 30 percent of young male veterans, ages 18 to 24 years old, who served on active duty at any time since September 2001 are unemployed.
But if it weren't for the G.I. Bill, that number would be higher, Gebhart said.
"I would suspect many of them would not be in school. If they don't have the training for another job, they're not going to be qualified for it," Gebhart said. "In many cases, many of them don't have the family resources to go to school."
Means, who is married and has a 12-year-old daughter, said he still would have started his own business if the G.I. Bill didn't pay for his schooling, but it would have been at a much later date.
But for the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the program, it's putting people who "have done the most for our country" back to work, he said.
"These people have went the extra mile doing their duty for their state and nation it's only fair to offer them a little help with their education," Means said.
"A lot of veterans do want to be independent, they do want to have their own business if they can," he said. "The G.I. Bill's purpose is to help them readjust."
Reach Megan Workman at megan.work...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5113.