Arguably Mac’s greatest efforts were in preparing for the return of millions of World War II veterans. He recalled the tragedy of Anacostia Flats following World War I. There would be four times the number of veterans, sixteen million, and America would likely revert to the economic crisis of the Great Depression.
While the American Legion promoted a veterans omnibus bill drafted by Warren Atherton (R-California) containing health and economic benefits, Mac drafted a bill that also included provisions for home and business loans and educational benefits.
Working with both houses of Congress to incorporate the two bills, Mac and Atherton worked to promote what became the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act.
By unanimous votes, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives approved the legislation in March and May, respectively and on June 22, 1944, President Franklin Roosevelt signed what is now known as the G.I. Bill of Rights, or G.I. Bill, into law.
The bill has helped millions of returning veterans to obtain educations and zero-down home loans since its passing. Congress attempted to reduce benefits to military personnel serving during the Korean Conflict but Mac lobbied heavily to assure all benefits remained intact.
For his efforts Mac is considered (with Atherton) a Father of the GI Bill, which is considered by many to be one of the most successful pieces of social legislation ever written.
“And since the G.I. Bill of Rights was used so extensively, I think it brought a new middle class to our country because we had — I’ve had many doctors say, “Well, I would never have been a doctor if it hadn’t been for your father.” And then I hear lots of people say that, “Well, we would never have owned a home.” -
Jewell Lewis, daughter of Ernest W. McFarland
The Veterans Business Journey is proud to celebrate the achievements of Navy Veteran Ernest W. McFarland, a Father of the G.I. Bill, U.S. Senator, Governor, and Chief Justice of the Arizona Supreme Court.
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