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.