More than 20 attorneys general are supporting a bill to assist the housing and educational pursuits of the families of Black World War II veterans, Big Island Now reported.
The Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr. and Sgt. Joseph H. Maddox GI Bill Restoration Act of 2023 would extend eligibility for Veterans Affairs home loans and the Post-911 GI Bill education assistance benefits to Black World War II veterans, their surviving spouses, and certain direct descendants if the veteran was previously denied benefits due to their race.
H.R. 1255 – introduced by Reps. Seth Moulton (MA-06) and James E. Clyburn (SC-06) – has received the support of 24 attorneys general.
“The Sgt. Isaac Woodard Jr. and Sgt. Joseph H. Maddox GI Bill Restoration Act of 2023 recognizes the discrimination Black veterans often faced when they sought the same educational and housing benefits afforded to others,” Hawaiʻi First Deputy Attorney General Matt Dvonch said. “The bill is an important step toward addressing this historic injustice.”
Black veterans have been subject to discriminatory G.I. Bill administration, exclusion from housing loans due to redlining, and denial of educational benefits at certain schools due to their race.
The bill itself is named in honor of two Black World War II veterans. Sgt. Woodard was beaten and blinded in uniform by South Carolina police who dragged him from a bus in 1946. Sgt. Maddox was accepted by Harvard University but denied financial assistance from his local Veterans Affairs office because the agency wanted to “avoid setting a precedent.”
The bill would also create a panel of independent experts to study inequities in the benefits and assistance given to female and minority military members.