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The G.I. Bill and Al’s Next Step

June 25, 2012
Honorable Discharge Classification Card

Honorable Discharge Classification Card

Once  Al made it home and through the Christmas holidays, decisions needed to be made about his future.  When Al left Roanoke to serve in the Army, he was employed by Hercules Powder Company in Pulaski, Virginia.  He worked with a crew of three weighing powder, putting the powder in sacks and sewing the sacks,and operated an electric sewing machine.The powder plant,straddling the New River,  was the largest plant ever built in that area. Obviously, Al also  went through a lot of training in the Army.  He’d attended the Coyner Electrical Company in Chicago, in addition to military specific technical and operational training on weapons.  He’d also developed leadership skills as the head of his unit (the guys called him Granny).  He’d been promoted; at the time of his separation, he had attained the rank of Colonel. So when Al returned home, he needed a new direction.

Like so many other returning veterans, Al decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill to get an education.  By February of 1946, he’d made his choice and enrolled at the National Business College in his hometown of Roanoke.

National Business College

National Business College

There is a series of correspondence between the Veteran’s Administration and Al, and between the VA and Al’s school.  All of this ensures that his benefits are in line with the G.I. Bill.  The first letter (below) is from the VA giving notice that they’d been notified of his enrollment by the  National Business College (NBC) and itemizes relevant benefits due him.

VA Letter About the GI Bill

VA Letter About the GI Bill

As a student,  the G.I. Bill also would pay Al or any other single veteran in his circumstances $65 in subsistence pay monthly while he was in school.  If the veteran had dependents, the subsistence allowance increased to $90/ month.    But, actually, Al did have a dependent.  As you may have read early on,  Al was born in 1922, the son of an Lebanese immigrant (although his father had been born in Syria).  His parents raised a large family.  Al was one of the youngest children.  His mother died early and his “Auntie” helped raise them.  She was a strong Lebanese woman who raised them with set moral values and strong opinions.  For example, she didn’t want the boys to marry any woman who was not Lebanese.  He said he made the mistake of bringing a non-Lebanese woman home once and she was not well-received.  Since he wasn’t drawn to any of the Lebanese women he knew and because he loved and respected his Auntie, Al stayed single until after she passed away.  His first and only marriage took place when he was 54.  Al applied filed a claim for his Auntie as his dependent.  The correspondence about this states the applicable provision of the G.I. Bill, and the rules around it.

Al and Auntie

Al and Auntie

So, thanks to the G.I. Bill, Auntie is taken care of  and Al is enrolled at school.   When he graduates in 1948, he will have a degree in Commercial Science (with Highest Honors).  While in school, he participated in the Business Science Society and was on the basketball team and the baseball team.  I include a few photos from the school below.  The students look so carefree, and yet you know the young men particularly have seen things and had experiences that must have been hard to put behind them.

Al is in the front row, on the left.

Al's Graduation Photo

NBC Class Photos

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