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 GI Bill increased the country's intellectual capital exponentially. The Bill funded the education of 22,000 dentists, 67,000 doctors, 91,000 scientists, 238,000 teachers, 240,000 accountants, and 450,000 engineers, as well as three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, a dozen senators, 14 Nobel Prize winners, and two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners." - American Radio Works, 2015
"There were things that needed to be done in order that our government and our economy would remain strong and the returning veterans would have a strong economy and a proper place in society upon their discharge from the services."
Senator Ernest W. McFarland, August 13, 1943
"The postwar [WWII] GI Bill of Rights - and the enthusiastic response to it on the part of America's veterans - signaled the shift to the knowledge society. Future historians may consider it the most important event of the twentieth century. We are clearly in the midst of this transformation; indeed, if history is any guide, it will not be completed until 2010 or 2020. But already it has changed the political, economic, and moral landscape of the world."
Peter Drucker, known as the Father of Modern Management, in Post-Capitalist Society, 1993
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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