Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Courageous Courier

I must admit, I've become a little obsessed over the issue of the presently shitty G.I. Bill and the efforts of two Senators that aim to give it an overhaul fitting to the service our military has performed the past seven years. I wrote about the topic yesterday for Vet Voice before I chanced upon another piece. With a hat-tip to Blackfive, who linked to the Army Times.

The money quote:

The Bush administration has remained wary of the bill, because of its $5.4 billion cost and concerns that significant improvements in veterans’ education benefits might encourage people to get out of the military to go to college, which in turn could hurt military readiness.

So the ridiculously out of control spending of the war in Iraq aside, Bush is all of a sudden fiscally sagacious when it comes to $5.4 billion clams. You might recognize that as the amount spent in Iraq over a period of nineteen days. So if this is the best argument they have to reject a new G.I. Bill, I have a little spending advice of my own: stop paying Blackwater and other mercs a cool half million to go gun crazy in Baghdad, and leave Iraq three weeks ahead of schedule, whenever that happens (unless McCain is elected, then we'll be bomb-bomb-bombing our way into a recession as soldiers prepare for their deca-deployments).

The second half of that quote is so finely crafted by the non-serving administration that my head is still spinning twelve hours after I read it. It should be taken like a fine brandy, swirled around the brain, every syllable savored for its underlying neglect for our veterans - not only is the administration aware of how woefully inadequate the current G.I. Bill is, they aim to keep it that way. Exactly what veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan deserve for their multiple deployments and dedication to this country is being held hostage. They must be living in a world where half a trillion dollars spent in a needless war, creating more insurgents, sending back hundreds of thousands of veterans, some of them disabled for life, and telling them to fuck off when they get back from war is building military readiness.

Go to Iraq for a year. No, make that fifteen months. Shut the fuck up. Take this Humvee with plastic doors and do your patrols while KBR counts their money. Risk your life on behalf of an ungrateful nation, and when you want to finally get out and make something of yourself, too fucking bad. By the way, care to reenlist?

The military, government et. al do not have our backs. That is nothing new. But even civilians are lining up to take credence out of a reformed G.I. Bill. From the acclaimed Findlay Courier:

For many, but not for all. We need to face the fact that not all of our military veterans are college material. Just last week an analysis of Army enlistee education levels was released by the National Priorities Project, revealing that those with a high school diploma dropped to just under 71 percent in 2007. The increasing unpopularity of the Iraq War has made it an extreme challenge for recruiters to get enough quality young people to sign on. The original goal, established when the draft was replaced with an all-volunteer military, was to have no more than 10 percent of recruits lacking a high school diploma. But current desperation has eroded that plan. The report also indicated that at least 70 percent of Army recruits in FY 2007 were not high school graduates.

I imagine the guy who wrote this had his feet kicked up on his desk, tapping his loafers and imagined all the po' folks who stopped gang banging, dropped out of high school and joined the Army. I would surmise that I know a lot more people in the military than this anonymous editorial scribe, and there are a considerable amount of them already drawing their paltry G.I. Bill money two months after separating from the Army. Yes, shadowy figure of Findlay, Ohio. We want to use the G.I. Bill. A friend of mine is going to the firefighting academy so that he may continue to serve his community. Will he be able to pay for it all with the current bill? I don't know. The editorial doesn't offer any ideas besides vaguely asserting that not everyone deserves a full G.I. Bill and enlightens us that "If a new GI Bill is written, it should be one that realistically benefits all deserving troops, not just those who are suited to college." Thanks for the insight! And who deems someone "deserving" anyhow? No one is certain if they belong in school until they get there. Rising from the depression and World War II, there was a whole generation of folks who weren't properly educated but needed a new start. The G.I. Bill of 1944 educated fourteen Nobel Prize winners and two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners, including authors Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, and Frank McCourt. Giving everyone a shot is not as risky and expensive as this editorial alludes to. Not even a little bit.

Hey, Findlay, Ohio. Do you like the acting style of Gene Hackman, the music of Johnny Cash and the poetry of James Wright? They all used a full G.I. Bill not afforded to the hapless goons of today's military. Another generation of young volunteers waiting to become tomorrow's lawyers, doctors and firemen are being stifled by this inane reasoning.

Support The Troops, indeed.



Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post Alex -- I'm consistently dumbfounded by the way our bureaucrats conveniently deploy the phrase "support our troops" to whatever political purpose of the moment, only to completely abandon it when it comes to honoring that commitment.

Maybe the worst thing is that they truly believe they are supporting the troops, even while fighting a fair GI Bill tooth and nail.

I don't think our politicians are so much worried about the $5.9B as they are the fact that troops might actually dump the military for a hotter, more attractive (and less deadly) college education. The administration needs volunteer troop levels high, and a fair GI Bill is a threat to that goal.

The problem is, that mindset can't be called "Support The Troops" -- it can only be called "Support the War".

And that consideration, as much as any, should demonstrate that those phrases clearly don't mean the same thing anymore... if they ever did in the first place.

Unknown said...

Look out, America, Alex has got his mission. He's cocked and locked, good to go and ready to launch. I wish I could remember who wrote this phrase, but anyway, it fits. I firmly believe that in finding his voice in the advocacy of America's deserving veterans, Alex has "laid his hands on the great shaft of his destiny."

There'll be more to come from him, folks, stand by...



Nixon said...

Thanks for advocating this! I always told everyone who was getting out to go to college. It's not so much about making money afterwards, but rather a more coherent way to think about the world and understand different perspectives. Meeting a variety of different people is important, and with guys coming out of the service, I believe they will have a very interesting viewpoint to share. Good luck!

Unknown said...

Good post. The original GI Bill was excellent. It let me leave the farm and get a degree in physics. We should go back to it.

David M said...

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 02/01/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the check back often.

Anonymous said...

just thought you'd want to see (though may have already seen)Montel Williams defending the troops to the lame media.

take care.
Eli (US Marine Corps)

Anonymous said...

I "PCS'ed" back in late 96, and i have yet to adorn my car bumper with that idiotic, yellow ribbon with those empty, meaningless, hollow, rhertorical words. I have always hated that bumper sticker, both while i was in, and particuarlly since ive been out - its the biggest lie in America.

Anonymous said...

First we must decide if going to college or Iraq is worse...then we can make the rational decision if the G.I. Bill is worth it...

Anonymous said...

Good job, dude. And the poster who talks about the value of college education beyond increasing earning power is right on.

grezelda said...

You are right about all but one thing..This nation does care about our soldiers.
I am 48, I remember watching the news as a child during the Vietnam War. I remember Walter Cronkite, the evacs, the bodies, I remember Mei Lei (?). My mother was a Hippie, was a member of Mothers against the War. My neighbors had gone off to war. I remember some of them not coming home and some of them coming home to what was at least an unpleasant situation.

My cousins Mark an MP and David a helicopter gunner came home but part of them had died. They were only perhaps 8 years older than myself. The stories they told me are not much different than yours.

Mom is still anti war and military. I am anti-war but pro-military! I am so very proud of all of you! Many of my peers have children on their 3rd tour.

It isnt the every day person that doesnt care about you or any soldier. It is the power brokers, all of those that stand to make a buck over every death or injury. It is Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush. Halliburton and everyone else that makes a profit off of this war. It is them that feel...I got mine who cares how I got it as they lie by their pools or fire up thier jets.

Every soldier deserves college free when they get home, they deserve every bit of medical attention they need and support for their families for life. That includes the National Guard!

In closing I will continue to read your posts and you continue writin them! I cant wait to buy your book and I will! And I will have my 11 year old read both also. She needs to see the world as it is. The good and the bad.

It never goes away...those memories of Nam never have left me and I wasnt even there...I was young but not too young to learn to respect our soldiers. They are doing their duty and are there to protect us...even if that is not what the government has you doing.

God Bless Our Military!
Good Luck!
Jeanmarie Gavin!

Nikki Elyce said...

The GI Bill was the single most successful social welfare program in the United States and paved the way for the most successful generation our our country has ever had. Interestingly enough, it seems to me that same generation is doing it's best to disable it.

Keep up your fight. The GI Bill should be reinstated as it was originally written for the soldiers and for this country.

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