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GI exhibit at Columbia College honors veterans

Veteran's Day is Nov. 11

The GI Bill exhibit at the Columbia College Library is up to honor the veterans who came to Columbia College Chicago after WWII.  The exhibit highlights material from 1945 to 1956.

Heidi Marshall, the archivist for the college, put together the exhibit, which consists of photographs, a display of the fields introduced and different historical documents from the alumnae who attended the school on the GI Bill, including a current Board of Trustees Howard Mendelson. He graduated from Columbia College with a degree in Speech.

The exhibit, on the third floor of the library, is tucked away near a study lounge. It covers the walls and windows with black-and-white photographs and tattered documents that could not be fully restored. Students wander by, while others study at tables with their laptops.

The library hosts other exhibits on various floors through the building at 624 S. Michigan Ave.

The GI Bill was a law passed in 1944 that provided college or vocational education as well as unemployment compensation for up to one year for WWII veterans. Veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are using the GI bill still today.

“The GI Bill made college available for those [veterans] that couldn’t afford it,” Marshall said.

In 2010 congress passed a new law often referred to as GI Bill 2.0 for veterans, including National Guard, to get an education and have a place to live. This bill made college more affordable than in the past, advocates said.

At Columbia, 213 students currently are using the GI bill, said EJ “Chip” Talbot, Veterans Educational Benefits Coordinator at Columbia College.
Students either can receive $1,000 a month, $1,500 a month or a partial payment depending on their situation.

“If a student is disabled all of their expenses are paid,” Talbot said.

Talbot works with veterans and the dependants of veterans who are interested in enrolling at the college.

Columbia will have a celebration from 4:30 to 7 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the library honoring veterans. Students, staff and alumnae veterans will be there along with special guest speakers.

“Its nice to go out and spend the time to pay homage to those people that served.” Marshall said. “We run around like we’re crazy and we have so many other obligations but it’s nice to spend a moment to thank them for their heroics.”

Reporters Chad Taylor and Jennifer Zipser contributed to this story.

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