Many people remember Jerome Kohlberg and his wife Nancy, longtime seasonal residents of the Vineyard and owners of the Vineyard Gazette, who were involved, quietly, in ecological issues here and at their home in Westchester County, N.Y. A lesser-known story of Mr. Kohlberg’s philanthropy and personal decency as we approach Veterans Day was his role in passing the improved GI Benefits bill.

In late 2007, I was approached by Matt Boulay, a former Marine sergeant, to assist in a campaign to pass the GI Bill for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Matt had worked with my firm, DKC, as executive director of the Fund for Veterans Education. Through that organization, Jerome Kohlberg, who had served in the Navy in World War II, had set up an annual college scholarship program for two veterans from every state and the District of Columbia.

After about three years and 400 beneficiaries, Mr. Kohlberg realized more needed to be done to address the scope of issues faced by veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Over time, the benefits of the original post-World War II GI Bill had atrophied. Since that time, lack of interest and budgetary constraints had hollowed out the once robust educational benefits available to veterans like Mr. Kohlberg. After his military service, Mr. Kohlberg completed college, graduate school and law school using his GI Bill benefits. As he studied the issues confronting the current returning veterans, he was appalled at the shabby treatment so many were receiving. He was especially concerned that many who served in the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan were reservists and National Guard members who had specifically signed up in order to get some additional funds to help pay their college expenses. They were sent into harm’s way, to serve and fight, only to be rewarded with a puny set of benefits. Unlike earlier times, this generation of returning veterans included many women.

Fiscal conservatives were opposed to new spending and the Department of Defense saw increased veterans benefits as an impediment to recruitment and retention. Mr. Kohlberg was determined to wage a campaign to change this, and it was that campaign that Matt Boulay was coordinating for the Kohlbergs. It would involve both Democrats and Republicans. The American Legion would be heavily involved, as were the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and also the Vietnam Veterans of America.

We were asked to create a public relations strategy that took the issue beyond the Beltway into cities and towns around the country to bring attention to the plight of the returning vets and counteract those who opposed the bill. The campaign we developed was called Hometown Heroes. The challenge was how to generate impactful media coverage to sway members of Congress who had not taken a stand.

We lined up local city mayors to host events where local members of Congress would be invited. Mr. Kohlberg would issue a statement and a Hometown Hero or two would be available to the press.

Fairly quickly, fence-sitting members of Congress started to line up for the bill. The House of Representatives passed the measure. The Senate followed by a vote of 92-6. President George W. Bush signed it into law on July 4, 2008, greatly expanding educational opportunities, increased medical benefits and more comprehensive homeless prevention measures for veterans.

Jerome Kohlberg did not forget who he was and how he got his start. When faced with the knowledge that current veterans were being shortchanged, though the odds were long, he acted. He didn’t require the spotlight and he didn’t demand praise for what he did. He saw an issue where he could help. And true to his character, he put his resources to work.

There are veterans who now have a shot at a more fulfilling future, thanks to Mr. Kohlberg’s commitment to that noble military idea to leave no one behind. So while his work on environmental issues, campaign reform and his role at the Vineyard Gazette are important and laudable activities, we should also remember this Veterans Day that there are many thousands of veterans who benefited from this man’s sense of decency and fairness. As Matt Boulay would say, “Semper Fi.”

Bill Cunningham, a seasonal resident of Martha’s Vineyard, has been a New York political consultant and public relations advisor for many candidates and organizations.

Editor’s Note: Jerome Kohlberg Jr. and his wife Nancy acquired the Vineyard Gazette in 2010. He died in 2015.