More than 100,000 veterans have already submitted claims under Sen. Jim Webb’s new GI Bill, which aims to pay for the college tuition, housing and books of students who served in the military after 9/10/2001. That number is expected to hit 500,000 in the program’s first year.

President Obama was on-hand Monday to celebrate the bill’s enactment, framing it not just in terms of coming through for veterans, but as a social program that will help America compete in the global marketplace.

“And we do this not just to meet our moral obligation to those who’ve sacrificed greatly on our behalf and on behalf of the country,” Obama said. “We do it because these men and women must now be prepared to lead our nation in the peaceful pursuit of economic leadership in the 21st century.” He went on to say, “We owe a debt to all who serve. And when we repay that debt to those bravest Americans among us, then we are investing in our future — not just their future, but also the future of our own country.”

Americans are all for social programs, whether health care, education benefits or jobs programs, as long as they have something to do with the military.

There’s an interesting twist in the bill: Veterans who go back to war can transfer the benefit to a spouse or kid.

Read the full text of the president’s speech here.

Read AP’s take here.

More details on the program from the White House, the Defense Department and the VA.


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