Tag Archives: GI Bill

National Guard Not Invited To GI Bill Party

The new GI Bill which provides excellent education opportunities to those who have served in the armed forces does not apply to members of the National Guard who also risked their lives. According to military spokesmen, about 33,000 Guardsmen who served during the post 9/11 crisis don’t qualify for the generous program which covers the entire tuition bill. These members of the National Guard were activated for federal duty under the control of their governor even though they were paid with federal funds instead of being activated under Title 10 under which they would be considered full time members of the armed forces.

The legislation had a blind spot and it should not be that difficult to overcome this unfortunate denial of the GI Bill to those who risked their lives in service of the nation. Anyone reading this should please contact their congressmen and urge a change that would assist these gallant men and women of the National Guard.

Veterans Get Short End Of Stick Once Again!

Congress passed a new education benefit bill that was intended to acknowledge the dedication and patriotism of those who served in the armed forces as well as being an inducement for those seeking to remain in service. The bill is called, the “Post 9/11 GI Bill” for anyone who served in the military during that time period. A feature of the legislation was allowing service members to transfer benefits to a spouse or child. However, as always there is something in the small print which says that transfer right was only available to those who were in the service on August 1, 2009. Thousands of servicemen are leaving the military in the coming months and were unaware of the provision so they, in effect, have lost transfer rights.

Dana Beausoleil, was severely wounded in combat and had to leave the military. “I am not eligible to transfer any benefits to my children, even though my disability cost me my military career.” There are times in life when common sense should over-rule bureaucracy. This is one of those examples. Let anyone who served after 9/11 be eligible to all parts of a bill that is designed for those who served after 9/11.

Confusion Over Provisions Of New GI Bill

The recently passed bill that guarantees veterans a modern version of the GI Bill of Rights apparently contains some errors of omission that must be corrected. The office of Senator Jim Webb of Virginia who pushed for the bill expressed surprise to learn the bill will not take effect until August 1, 2009 since it was the senator’s assumption the bill would immediately go into effect for this academic year. However, the Pentagon says there is no retroactive provision to allow such an action. The bill also raises a problem for those veterans currently enrolled in the Montgomery Bill which requires them to make a contribution to their education. There is no provision allowing those veterans to immediately switch over to the new bill which pays all tuition plus provides for living expenses.

We assume Congress will take swift action to remedy these problems in order to ensure all veterans of the opportunity this fall of enrolling in a new GI Bill of Rights. They have earned this right and minor errors should immediately be corrected. We are surprised the new bill does not contain the old bill’s provision allowing those seeking skill training to receive benefits. That is a needed provision of a revised bill.

Medal Of Honor Parent Backs Jim Webb G.I.Bill

The parents of Sgt. Ross McGinnis, who died while valiently trying to save the lives of his comrades, used the occasion for receiving their dead son’s Medal of Honor to support efforts to further the education rights of soldiers and veterans. Bill McGinnis said “I feel there is someone out there more important than(my wife) Romayne and I, and that is the troops who are still active.” Mr. McGinnis announced his support for the G.I. Bill for the 21st Century which was introduced by Senator James Webb of Virginia. McGinnis felt it was the best bill available that would benefit educational needs of troops and veterans as well as having bipartisan support in Congress.

The Pentagon wants a different version which is designed to restrict the ability of service men to get these educational benefits because they claim the Webb bill will reduce re-enlistments. Senator John McCain has made clear he opposes the Webb version and will support the Pentagon version of education benefits.

No To GI Bill Transfer Rights Says Senator

A Pentagon initiative which would allow career service members to share GI Bill e ducation rights with a spouse or children was opposed by the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Sen. Daniel Akak said: “I believe that those who would rely on transferability as an incentive to longer service would be disappointed.” He said studies indicate fewer than 2% of soldiers showed interest in giving their GI Bll benefits to family members which indicates there is need for further testing and review “before anyone can positively say that this benefit would have the desired impact on retention.”

Akaka is one of the sponsors of the 21st Century GI Bill pushed by sen. James Webb. Webb’s proposal would ncrease GI Bill benefits from the current $1,100 a month for those with at least three years of service, to cover full cost of attending a four year college plus provide stipends for living costs.

The House version of the bill would cover costs by adding a surcharge of 0.47% to couples with incomes of $1 million and to single taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of $500,000. There is no question President Bush will oppose raising taxes on the wealthy in order to pay for the cost of the Iraq war. He, naturally, would prefer cutting taxes since it violates his political beliefs that wealthy people should ever be forced to endure any financial burdens.

American Dilemma-Good GI Bill Or Poor One?

A new report by the Congressional Budget Office highlights the dilemma confronting America’s military– enact a GI Bill of Rights which will honor the sacrifices of those who have served or reduce benefits in order to force more soldiers to remain in service. The report said passage of the proposed legislation, which provides free tuition and living assistance, would most probably result in a 16% drop in re-enlistments. It suggested the only way the military could avoid such a conclusion was by raising its re-nlistment bonus payment. The estimated cost of the new bill over the coming ten years is about $51.8 billion.

The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been fought on the assumption the American people will not have to endure any hardshps such as higher taxes or requirements that people are drafted into the services. It is among the first wars in American history in which taxes were cut rather than raised. Perhaps, the nation must confront the issue as to whether it is time to institute some form of national service for young Americans. A nation can not endure over time only relying on volunteers, at some point the entire society has to meet its responsiblities. Or, perhaps, the alternative is not to become involved in wars leading nowhere and having no purpose.

Defense Secetary Gates Opposes New GI Bill!

Twenty-six veterans groups have come together to support an improved GI Bill which significantly raises benefits for those attending college. The 21st Century GI Bill has been pushed by former Marine, Senator Jim Webb, in an effort to ensure those who have served receive the similar benefits as to what was provided veterans of World War II and Korea. “We need,” said Webb, “to move expeditiously to get this vital piece
of legislation passed this year for our returning Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The educational benefits in this bill are crucial to a service member’s readjustment to civilian life,and are a cost of war that should receive the same priority that funding the war has received the last five years.”

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates agreed to support the concept of “transferability” which allows family members access to edcuational benefits, but he reaffirmed his opposition to a veteran’s education bill that provides “too generous” benefits. The Webb bill is modeled on WWII benefits since it provides for full tuition payment and a monthly living stipend, but Gates prefers if members of the military use educational benefits while remaining in the service. The Pentagon believes having generous benefits is an inducement to leave the service and pursue a civilian career. As a Pentagon offiical noted: “Congress must understand that the volunteer force relies for its very life on retention– not departure incentives.”

Members of the National Guard and the Reserves had active civilian careers and were not envisioning a life in the military until forced to undergo one deployment after another which impacted their civilian careers. The United States government should not be deciding whether or not a member of the military leaves or remains. The original GI Bill of Rights was designed to recognize the heroic service of those who fought for their nation. Similar benefits should be provided this generation of warriors.

Democrats Support Servicemen-Why Doesn’t Bush?

Senator James Webb, D-Va, has been fighting to obtain a new version of the G.I. Bill of Rights for veterans of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan without any active support from the Bush administration. He wants adaptation of the post WWII bill that provided free tuition, payments for books, and living stipend. That version of veteran benefits played an hisoric role in transforming American society by educating millions. Senator Webb told Defense Secretary Robert Gates, he would like to get the bill passed this year” We’ve been working on it for a year. We’ve been trying to get the other side to understand that this is not a political issue.” Republican Senator John Warner reached over and announced to his comrade from Virginia that he would support such a bill.

Democat Senator Levin asked Gates to at least provide the Pentagon’s view and respond to the request for a new version of veteran benefits. President Bush loves making speeches condemning Democratic opponents of failing to “support our fighting men” but he is surprisingly quiet when it comes to paying for those servicemen. He opposed the 3.5% pay raise put forth by Democratic leadership as “excessive” and he initially refused to go along with expanding mental health efforts. The Republican party is verbally a great supporter of our fighting men and women, but when it comes to paying out money the Bush administration has never seen a tax cut for the wealthy that is not worthy of support. As for servicemen, they will receive words, not dollars.

Improved GI Bill Will Result In Improved Economy

Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, urged the president and Congress to incorporate a new version of the GI Bill of Rights that is closer in content with the WWII bill that stimulated America’s economy by enabling millions of veterans to obtain college education. He noted the original GI Bill, “resulted in higher national productivity, consumer spending and tax revenue. Every dollar spent sending the Greatest Generation to college added seven dollars to our national economy.” The Congressinal Research Service estimates the World War II GI Bill resulted in a $5 to $12 increase in tax revenues for every $1 spent on sending veterans to college.

The Bush administration has been hesitant to make dramatic changes in veteran benefits due to the estimated $5.4 billion cost. Of course, President Bush sees no problem in spending over a trillion dollars in search of WMD and costing the lives of thousands of soldiers and Iraq civilians. There is something fundamentally wrong when a president hestiates about spending $5 billion to improve the nation, then again, President Bush opposed extending medical care to children.

Veteran Pay For Job Training Reduced

GI Bill payments for on-the-job and apprenticeship training have dropped more than a hundred dollars a month due to failure on the part of Congress to extend a two-yer-old program that offered higher rates of pay. The GI Bill allows those who have served to enter apprenticeship programs such as hotel management or fire fighting, plumbing and other skills. The benefits are paid for full-time employees in VA approved programs that cover entry level positions. Payment is provided only to those with no prior work experience in the field. These benefits are only available to a veteran of the armed forces or those who served in the National Guard.

Hopefully, Congress upon its return this month will make sure this program continues. Many members of the Reserve and National Guard were taken away from their regular occupations and forced to spend a year or so fighting for their country. Many men and women have, essentially, been compelled to end their current career, the least American can do is provide them financial support to enter a new occupation.