Archive for Monday, May 19, 2008

New GI Bill

The program that helped so many World War II veterans and fueled the U.S. economy is worthy of revival.

May 19, 2008


It's been a common refrain during the current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan to say that Americans should support their troops even if they don't support the policy that took us to war.

That seems to be what members of the U.S. House had in mind this week when they refused to approve $163 billion in spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but approved a measure that had been split from that bill to provide $52 billion over the next 10 years to fund a new version of the GI Bill that benefited so many veterans of World War II.

The new GI Bill would guarantee a monthly stipend and full scholarship to an in-state public university for any member of the military who had served at least three years. To pay for the measure without adding to the nation's deficit, a surtax of one-half of a percentage point would be placed on individuals with annual incomes above $500,000 and couples earning over $1 million.

That funding method already is drawing protests from some U.S. senators. Their concerns may be valid, but another way to look at it is that most people who serve in an all-volunteer military come from families whose incomes fall far below those that would be affected by the surtax. Those higher-income families can easily afford to send their children to the college of their choice, which seems to offset the tax sacrifice to allow U.S. military vets to pursue their own higher education goals.

The original Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944 is credited with helping fuel America's postwar prosperity. By the time the program ended in 1956, almost 8 million World War II veterans had used its funding for an education or training program. The bill also underwrote nearly 2.4 million VA home loans for veterans.

The current GI package also would give a 13-week extension for unemployment benefits for veterans. Interestingly the original GI Bill also provided for unemployment benefits, but less than 20 percent of the funds that were set aside for that purpose were ever used. The nation's economic situation was different in the 1950s, but the Greatest Generation once again set an example of self-reliance that is worth emulating.

The benefits package that passed the House is unlikely to make it through the Senate intact, but it sends a message that shouldn't be ignored. Both in the 1940s and today, the military personnel who have served this nation so well in war deserve the best America can provide when they return home.


Brent Garner 10 years, 1 month ago

One of the objections raised, even by the Pentagon, is that the 3 year service commitment is too short. The Pentagon had advocated for either a 4 year or 6 year service commitment. The rationale for this is that a shorter period would result in an accelerated loss of experienced personel who would exit the military at the 3 year point instead of say the 4 year point.

antney 10 years, 1 month ago

It doesn't matter if you serve 2 yrs, 3 yrs or 4yrs the Military Service Obligation (MSO) is always 8 yrs accorting to current contracts. The service only means the years of "active duty" service. I'm of the opinion that there should be a one for one exchange. You want four years of schooling paid for, serve 4 yrs active duty.

monkeyspunk 10 years, 1 month ago

Two key Repubs that have signed on are Hagel of NE and Warner of VA. McCain has yet to endorse it and is most likely going to support a less inclusive, more restrictive Republican sponsored option, a system very similar to what antney suggests above. If McCain supports the alternative it will doom BOTH bills and neither will get through congress. So our vets will be left with the status quo, which just isn't acceptable.

KsTwister 10 years, 1 month ago

Even 2 years service deserves the same as years past, this war is no picnic either.

monkeyspunk 10 years, 1 month ago

Hawk, this new plan is specifically for education, it has nothing to do with medical benefits. www.gibill2008.orgYou bring up an excellent point, and if you are concerned about the medical care of especially the Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, check out this or www.thisisforthesoldiers.orgThis is a non partisan group dedicated to making sure Iraq and Afghanistan veterans receive the benefits they deserve, especially medical benefits. The new GI Bill is supported by the following groups:Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)The American LegionThe Military Officers' Association of America (MOAA)Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)AMVETSThe Air Force Sergeants Association (AFSA)The Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States (EANGUS)The Student Veterans of America (SVA)The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)The National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC)The Partnership for Veterans' EducationThe American Council on Education (ACE)Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU)Disabled American Veterans (DAV)

monkeyspunk 10 years, 1 month ago

Oh by the way, neither Brownback or Roberts has given support to this in the Senate. I wrote Pat and he responded that he is supporting a different bill and would not vote for new GI Bill.All of the Kansas Representatives voted in favor of this bill, with the exception of Jerry Moran. He actually supported it initially but voted against it when it came to the House.

Christine Pennewell Davis 10 years, 1 month ago

I think this bill should pass no matter if you serve 3 or 4 years. I also think a medical bill should be separate they should never be toghether they are two diffrent issues. The medical support and enrollmeant should be automatic, no and ifs or but. Then they should make it easy for the guys and gals to use it no matter if they move once in their lives or 100 times.

pace 10 years, 1 month ago

Call or write your senator,this should be passed.

preebo 10 years, 1 month ago

What should be taken from this issue is that McCain has essentially parroted the Bush Administration on this measure as many others. I know the media would like you to believe that he (McCain) is a "maverick" and independent, but on many issues, namely, the war effort , the economy, and this issue particularly they are in lock-step. Come this fall the nation will be introduced to the real John McCain and I suspect they will not like what they see.

ndmoderate 10 years, 1 month ago

If the Republicans wrote this bill and the Dems did not support it you know all we'd hear is "Democrats don't support the troops!" -- but since it's the other way around, why aren't the Repubs getting nailed to the wall on this?

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

the military advertises that they provide quality training and preparation for careers and makes me wonder why there would be such a demand for college after leaving the military...

Karl Rubis 10 years, 1 month ago

Definately support this! In addition to the active duty who should get more support for education (who saw the article about tuition raises for KU amounting to ~9% published in LJW last Friday?), Reservists do the same work overseas and don't even get the same coverage as active duty members. Plus, they are the ones interrupting their lives to fulfill their duty. Don't forget, this just doesn't apply to undergraduates, but also Graduate students. I know several who could benefit from this increase.

napoleon969 10 years, 1 month ago

To stuckinthemiddle:Have you ever been in the military? There are quite a few "jobs" that don't have a civilian equivalent. Not much call for civilian folks to load bombs and rockets on airplanes; not many tanks to drive; not much call for M16 proficient marksmen, etc.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 1 month ago

napoleon969I would think that those experiences and skills would serve well in a number of civilian occupations... maybe in manufacturing... construction... equipment operation...and right... maybe not the M16 proficiency... other than maybe law enforcement...maybe the recruiting advertisements overplay the career preparation aspect... a bit...

denak 10 years, 1 month ago

As a veteran, I'm not sure what I think of this. Mostly I'm just envious. I don't begrudge the servicemen and women in the Armed Forces from getting this if they do but it would have been nice to get this.The Montegomery GI Bill is nice but it isn't what the military makes it out to be. It doesn't cover four years of schooling. If I remember correctly, it came out to around 400 a month. I still had to take out loans and grants which I will still be paying for for another decade.So, if they get free instate tuition, I think that is great! Although I do worry about the serviceperson who needs to go out of state to study a major that a university close to him or her doesn't offer. I understand that Congress wants to keep costs down but I can see a scenario where an individual has to either make the choice of not pursuing his or her dream or paying for his or her college.As for the time in service issue, I tend to agree that 3 years is a little too short.As for the medical issue, given the amount of injuries in this war, I think this is imperative. In fact, if I had to choose between the two issues, education or medical care, I would much rather see or men and women receive medical care for the rest of their lives. Not just those who are moderately or serverely injured, but all of them.DenaP.S. The whole retroactive thing was great. Ahhhh, but that won't ever happen.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.