Can We Just Do the Right Thing? Can We?

Monday, March 31, 2008
I attend the University of Denver. It's a private university, and tends to be more expensive than public ones. An undergraduate degree (without textbooks) costs over $75K.

I receive tuition assistance from my company. Full-time employees are entitled to $7K a year for undergraduate programs, and $10K a year for individuals pursuing graduate degrees. Since most full time employees don't attend school full-time, the assistance is usually plenty to cover the costs of most programs. It's a pretty sweet deal, and just one of many reasons why I think my company is a decent employer.

So how does the current GI Bill compare? Pretty fucking poorly, in my opinion.

First, you have to pay to play. A contribution of $1,200 from the service member is required to participate. And then once you're out and ready to "cash in," the maximum benefit is $9,306.00 a year for four years for full time students. Part time students (such as myself) receive a maximum of $275.25 a month. That's $3,700.00 less per year than my private company provides me, and I'm not getting shot at.

Pretty fucked up.

Enter James Webb, Senator from Virginia, who we're keeping an eye on.

On February 28th, Senator Webb introduced the “Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act” S.22. This bill is an effort to allow our veterans to really go to college on Uncle Sam's dime, to make a life for themselves after they risked everything in Kabul or Baghdad. It's provisions would allow a veteran enough financial help to cover the full cost of the most expensive public institution in any given state, including tuition and a stipend for books and subsistence.

This is similar to the kind of help received by our World War II era veterans, which ushered in a substantial middle class and an age of prosperity unknown in this country. The WWII bill (the Servicemen's Readjustment Act) was a visionary piece of legislation, and guess what? It was also the right thing to do. When men and women agree to sacrifice everything in service to their country, the correct response is not "kthxbai."

Hence S.22.

But there are those who think the bill is too "generous." And you'll never guess who. Not the Dems. Not the Republicans. Wait for it...the Department of Defense.

That's right, the DOD is concerned that the passage of such a bill, and the subsequent benefits, would cripple their retention efforts. Because clearly, all those multiple deployments to a war zone, food stamps and stop-loss threats were really doing the job before. Asshats.

The cost of the bill is estimated at $2 billion.

The proposed 2009 budget for our country is $3.10 trillion. Surely there's enough there to do the right thing by our veterans. Surely.

I'll be writing my Senators and Representative today, and I ask you to do the same.

9 comments:

John the Scientist said...

Unfortunately the Marine Corpos Gazette is not available on the Web, but my favorite Marines excerpted this atricle that describes the DoD phenomenon.

I think that they surgically remove common sense and decency for the majority who attain O-6 in any branch. But that's not a new trend. I'm reminded of Vinegar Joe's cable to the O-4 he asked to be his aide when he made O-7: "I'll be a new kind of General, and you can be a new kind of aide".

Where have the men like you gone, Joe?

Janiece Murphy said...

John, fortunately for all concerned, in the civilian controlled military, if the legislative branch approves it, and the Prez doesn't veto it, it's the law.

The DOD asshats will just have to learn to live with it.

Bastards.

Shawn Powers said...

would cripple their retention efforts.

Isn't that the military version of keeping 'em barefoot and pregnant?

Or is it more like we're hoping to keep 'em dumb enough to stay in the military?

Really, what kind of message does this send from the DOD? "Those desiring anything more than blowing crap up need not apply?"

Sheesh...

John the Scientist said...

Shawn - I think is has more to do with the budget imapct and that some former Colonel won't be able to swing a contract for $500 toilet seats for his new employer if it passes.

vince said...

Janiece, this type of post is one of the reasons I love coming here. I'll be writing my Senators and Representatives this evening. Thanks for pointing this out.

And I second John.

Nathan said...

Like you say Janiece, luckily DoD will have to accept whatever legislation is passed. And hopefully, someone in congress will notice that when you take someone who's already learned military discipline and then you provide further education, you're likely to get a fairly valuable member of society. There's nothing generous about investing in the country's future.

Janiece Murphy said...

Vince, you mean you don't hang around for discussions of high heels and body lotion?

Shocking, just shocking...

Nicole Neroulias said...

Sen. Schumer (D-NY) is on board with this, too. I blogged about it today at http://veterans.lohudblogs.com.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, Nicole.

I know there are several Senators that are championing the bill, but strangely, Senator McCain is "uncommited."

I used to like him, until he compromised himself in order to get on the ticket...