WASHINGTON - Hoping to prevent online ads and the websites of for-profit schools from misleading Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has trademarked the words

GI Bill

.

Since the first GI Bill was enacted in 1944, it has represented the government's compact to provide an education for service members returning to civilian life. Recent government investigations, however, have spotlighted problems as for-profit schools compete for government dollars under the latest version of the bill.

Senate and Government Accountability Office investigations in recent months found that some for-profit colleges and universities recruit veterans without telling them the full truth about costs, loans, credit transfers, and dropout rates.

At stake are billions of dollars divided among hundreds of thousands of service members and veterans, and their spouses and children, under the 2008 Post-9/11 GI Bill.

"We will continue to support our veterans by helping them obtain the best education of their choosing - a right for which they have bravely served, and which they have truly earned," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said in a statement Monday announcing the trademark.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.), one of 14 senators who urged Shinseki in March to trademark the expression "GI Bill," said in a statement Tuesday that it was a "significant step towards ensuring that our veterans are not deceived when seeking to further their education."