News Releases

Sens. Moran, Roberts Work to Award Presidential Medal of Freedom to G.I. Bill Author Harry Colmery

Actions to honor Topeka native and WWI veteran come before tomorrow’s 75-year anniversary of G.I. Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) introduced S. Con. Res. 20, legislation to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to WWI veteran, Kansas native and G.I. Bill author Harry Colmery. Additionally, Sens. Moran and Roberts led members of the Kansas congressional delegation in sending a letter to President Trump urging him to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mr. Colmery and honor his work for veterans.

“As the father of the original G.I. Bill, Harry Colmery has helped facilitate the education and training of more than 20 million veterans,” said Sen. Moran. “Mr. Colmery’s transformational work has ensured the success of our nation’s heroes, and their families, as they transition back into civilian life. I’m proud of our collective efforts over the years to honor Mr. Colmery, and I encourage my colleagues and the president to support these actions to codify Mr. Colmery’s place in history.”

“Harry Colmery dedicated his life and legacy to bettering the lives of veterans after serving our nation himself in World War I,” said Sen. Roberts. “As a fellow Kansan, I’m proud to introduce legislation to award him with the highest civilian honor one can receive, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Mr. Colmery authored the G.I. Bill and worked diligently for years on behalf of veterans across the country, and I cannot think of better time to recognize him than on the 75th anniversary of the G.I. Bill.”

In 1917, Harry Colmery volunteered to serve his country and enlisted in the U.S. Army as the nation entered World War I. Before his discharge in 1919, Colmery was a 1st Lieutenant and pursuit pilot with over 500 hours flying time. Following his service in the Army, Colmery served 10 years as a captain in the Air Service Officer Reserve Corps. In late 1919, Colmery moved to Topeka, Kan. to practice law, and joined the American Legion, eventually serving as National Commander.

As World War II drew to a close, Colmery was compelled to advocate for surviving servicemembers as they returned from war. Colmery then created the original draft of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 or, the G.I. Bill. As recognition of his leadership, Colmery witnessed President Roosevelt sign the landmark legislation into law on June 22, 1944.

In 2017, Mr. Colmery legacy’s was honored when Congress passed and the President signed into law the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 or the Forever G.I. Bill, legislation that would enhance and expand education benefits to veterans, servicemembers, families and survivors. Additionally, VA Eastern Kansas Health Care System’s Topeka location bears Mr. Colmery’s name as the Colmery-O’Neil VA Medical Center.

Items to note:

  • To read the full text of the resolution, click here.
  • To read the full text of the letter, click here.
  • In July 2014, Sens. Moran and Roberts, alongside the Kansas congressional delegation, urged then-President Obama to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Mr. Colmery.


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