CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I must set the record straight for readers, especially Mr. Steve Lane, of White Sulphur Springs, and suggest that he more closely read my op-ed of Oct. 9, then research the hard facts before making wild accusations that my GI Bill comments were "untrue."
Verbatim, I said "The 'cost-cutting' Republican Congress and president had done away with the GI Bill and, for the first time in history, began requiring the military to pay income tax."
While nicknamed "The GI Bill," the history-making legislation was officially titled The Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944. It passed Congress by one vote (a Georgia Democrat) and was signed into law by Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt on June 12, 1944. In 1952, a Democratic Congress amended and extended that law for those serving during the Korean War era. Democratic President Harry Truman signed it.
During the administration of Republican President Dwight Eisenhower, with both houses of Congress in Republican hands, the GI Bill was terminated. The repeal provided that persons entering the military after Jan. 31, 1955, would not be entitled to any benefits at all, and those in the service prior to that date who had not signed up for its benefits by July 25, 1956, would receive nothing.
Mr. Lane says, "I don't know the exact date when the military was required to pay taxes." Well I do, because I was there. That same Republican president and Congress passed a law making, for the first time in history, military pay subject to income tax and FICA deductions effective Jan. 1, 1957. From that date on, military personnel have had to file income tax returns.
In 1959, a new Democratic Congress, led by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon Johnson, passed a "Peacetime GI Bill" but it was vetoed by Eisenhower.
People who entered the military service of the United States between Jan. 31, 1955, and March 3, 1966, did not receive any GI Bill benefits whatsoever during that period. They were also excluded from membership by the American Legion and certain other "wartime" veterans groups. While the closest some of their members came to combat was in the bars and cathouses of Phoenix City, Frankfurt and Uijeongbu, many "Cold War Warriors" were being shot at in the Middle East and Vietnam during those infamous 11 years when those who served were treated as if somehow inferior.