Friday, November 9, 2007

Support a Post Iraq G.I. Bill

I'm writing this post to call attention to an Op-Ed in today's New York Times. Written by Senators Chuck Hagel (R) and Jim Webb (D), it's calling for a "Post Iraq G.I. Bill".

It is a very brief essay and if you are interested, you can read it here.

I'll quote the core of the argument directly:

Veterans today have only the Montgomery G.I. Bill, which requires a service
member to pay $100 a month for the first year of his or her enlistment in order
to receive a flat payment for college that averages $800 a month. This was a
reasonable enlistment incentive for peacetime service, but it is an insufficient
reward for wartime service today. It is hardly enough to allow a veteran to
attend many community colleges.

It would cover only about 13 percent of the cost of attending Columbia,
42 percent at the University of Hawaii, 14 percent at Washington and Lee, 26
percent at U.C.L.A. and 11 percent at Harvard Law School.

Even with the soaring costs of college, money spent to ensure that our best young people (those with a demonstrated willingness and ability to serve society) reach their full potential is an intelligent investment. I'm sure many of you would agree that it is also our moral obligation as a nation.

Although this issue seems like a no-brainer to me, we can't seem to take any progressive measure for granted in our government today. So, if you have time, take 5 minutes to email your Representative and Senators to express support for this measure - just a single line asking for their support of the Hagel-Webb Post Iraq G.I. Bill.


Megan said...

what do the dissenters say about the bill, other than the cost?

Jared said...

I haven't heard any objections to the bill and the only one that I could imagine would be the cost as you mentioned.

I'm just writing to make sure this idea gets a little more attention....

Megan said...

i thought the bill sounded like a good idea, but wanted to know the cons before i jumped on it. well, i guess i'm officially an activist now :) because i emailed boozman, lincoln and pryor!

here's what i wrote: I'm writing to ask for your support of the Hagel-Webb Post Iraq G.I. Bill. When I worked as a nurse in the VA medical system, I met so many veterans struggling to make ends meet, several that were even without a place to live. And I was saddened by the recent study that found that as many as 1 in 4 homeless people were veterans. These men and women commit to serving our country when most of their peers are going to college or starting their careers. By the time their enlistment is over, they are far behind their civilian colleagues. We have an obligation to help them pursue the college education that they forwent in order to protect our freedoms, including the very freedom that allows all of us to pursue higher education. The average flat payment of $800/month from the antiquated Montgomery bill is barely enough to cover the cost to attend most community colleges now.

Thank you,
Megan Daniel

Jared said...

You made my day Megan - thanks for writing (and letting me know that you did). I'll try to keep an eye on this and let you know if the effort gets any traction.

Unknown said...

Unrelated: Iraq vs. energy.

Justin said...

Thanks Jared for that post. I've got so many young guys who come from an extremely disadvantaged background who will rely almost exclusively on their Mont. GI Bill once they get out of the Navy. Like you and Megan said, $800 a month isn't nearly enough. While these guys do have the option of investing an extra $600 into their GI Bill, and receiving a total of an extra $5400 of benefits (or about $250 a month), a lot more could be done. Have no doubt, a LOT of these guys and girls join for the education benefits, so any more incentive, education-wise, that can be offered will only increase the number and the quality of those young people who are the backbone of our military. That's just the short term self-interest side of the equation, never-minding the moral and ethical obligation we have to reward them for their service.

Megan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan said...

There was an article about this at this week.

It seems that not even the Pentagon is for this new bill, because it would give the enlisted men and women good reason to leave after their first term. Hmmmm.

Sorry about the removed comment, the first link I used for the article didn't work.

Jared said...

Thanks Megan.

That's one of the reasons I love doing this blog - people bring up things that I fail to consider. It definitely seems like the Pentagon raises a valid point.

Nevertheless, I still land firmly on the side of passing this bill. If the Pentagon needs to keep more of its best young troops past their first enlistment then I bet they could drum up the necessary resources for a counter-incentive somewhere in their $450B annual budget...and I dont mean to say that in a dismissive way. In all seriousness - the money HAS to be there - it just might take a reordering of Pentagon's priorities.