MAY 5, 1945
WASHINGTON, Friday—I have had letters from a number of veterans stating that the GI Bill of Rights, as far as getting a loan is concerned, gives them nothing that they could not get in the ordinary way. They add that the red tape surrounding it makes the whole proceedings so long and complicated that most of them feel difficulties are being put in their way, instead of help being extended.
This is another reason why I think local committees should be functioning. The information bureaus set up by the Veterans Bureau for the benefit of returning servicemen probably can give all the necessary information in reply to the questions that a boy has at the start. But, unfortunately, they are rarely set up to follow through and see that each individual's problem is properly considered to the end.
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I know of one boy, for instance, who wanted to buy a farm. He knew rather little about farming, and in his ignorance was about to purchase some land where it would have been impossible for him to make a living. Fortunately, a kindly and public-spirited farmer learned about his plan in time. He came over and explained to the boy the kind of land he was buying; that the cost of making it productive would be far too great for the resources which the boy had at hand.
I know, too, that many a young man, when he first gets home, should not be allowed to make a decision about a permanent occupation too quickly. Certain things, like quiet surroundings, have a greater appeal when you have just spent months as a target for bombs dropping from the sky, and when noise has been one of your constant companions. Later, they may not loom up as important.
Every returning serviceman should be allowed some months to reorient his life, and I believe one or two experiments in different occupations may be advisable. Many men will go back to what they did before the war and function happily. Others will know precisely what they want to do and will go ahead without hesitation. But we should not be surprised if for some there is a period of uncertainty. We should try to cooperate and tide over the period until the man is again stable and secure.
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Yesterday was my daughter's birthday, and so we visited her little boy, Johnny, in the hospital, taking with us a birthday cake made for his special benefit. His one favorite kind of cake, which I imagine is also a favorite with many other little boys, is chocolate all the way through, with white icing. Since supper has to be at 4:30 in the hospital, we had to light the candles while it was still daylight outside. He was a little disappointed, because he prefers to have them lit in the dark. Such creatures of habit are we, even at the age of six.
I am afraid this could not be a very happy birthday for Anna, but she and her husband and I dined together and we talked a great deal about her father and how much he enjoyed all family celebrations.