Montgomery, G. V. "Sonny" Papers
Mississippi State University Libraries
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A native of Meridian and an alumnus of Mississippi State University, "Sonny" Montgomery was a decorated veteran of World War II, operated a successful insurance business in his home town, and began his public service career in 1956 when he was elected to the Mississippi state Senate. In his ten years in the Senate, he never missed a vote. In 1966, Montgomery, a Democrat, was elected to the United States House of Representatives, Ninetieth Congress, from Mississippi's Fourth District (which later became the Third District). He served continually in the House until early January 1997. He was not defeated for re-election in 1996; he simply decided to retire from office. The focus of Montgomery's years in the House was the U. S. military and service men and women. A career National Guardsman himself, Montgomery put much energy into building up the military and in seeing to it that veterans were taken care of. He chaired the House Veterans Affairs Committee and served for many years on the House Armed Services Committee. He concentrated especially on strengthening the Reserves and National Guard, and worked on several pieces of legislation to protect employment status and health and other benefits. He worked successfully with other members of the Mississippi delegation to save military bases in Mississippi, and was instrumental in getting the regional administrative office for the Veterans Health Administration moved to the state capitol at Jackson. Congressman Montgomery followed the Vietnam War closely, making sure that Americans in Southeast Asia were sufficiently supported by the government. After the war, he was given the role of setting up the House Select Committee on U. S. Involvement in Southeast Asia as well as the House Select Committee on Missing Persons in Southeast Asia. Until the time of his retirement, Montgomery played a major role in the ongoing POW/MIA issue, including efforts regarding the return of remains of American soldiers from North Korea. The Congressman's proudest achievement by far was the passage in 1985 of what came to be known as the Montgomery G. I. Bill. The bill provides financial assistance for veterans to attend college after leaving the service. Its impact has been to improve recruitment and to provide veterans with better paying jobs. It is considered a landmark piece of legislation that appropriately bears the name of the man most responsible for its passage.