Saturday, June 14, 2008

How can McCain not support the GI Bill?

Because we're veterans, not victims. Part 3.

'The 21st Century GI Bill'
'What we owe to out military men and women'
'What they've earned'
'The least we can do'.

These are all things you will hear said in the debate over an expanded GI Bill. To anyone not in the military today, it has to be confusing why the two Republicans that have been staunchest in their support of the war and of the military in general, President Bush and Senator McCain, could possibly be against expanding benefits to the military. So why is the proposal authored by Senator Jim Webb not the right thing to do?

There are two reasons that this is a bad bill. First, as I have mentioned before, we are starting down a slippery slope when we put veterans, or any group, on too high a pedestal. If a free college education is the least we can do, what's next? How about a free car for every man and women in uniform? A free house? Why not give every combat vet a million dollars?

Churchill famously said of the defense of Britan that 'Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few'. Given the small number of men and women serving in the military today versus the population at large, the same sentiment may be true of today's veterans. But what we are owed as veterans does not have to include a dollar sign.

When liberals look at the troops today, they see a group of mostly young people who have been forced to sacrifice and die in an unjust and uneccesary war in Iraq. Thus they see veterans as a group deserving of victim status. How do liberals take care of victims? Why, money, of course.

When conservatives look at the troops today, they look in awe at a group of mostly young people who know full well the dangers and harships likely to come, yet raise their hands and step forward anyway. They see veterans as a group deserving of thanks and respect.

And how big of a dollar sign does Sen Webb propose? $58 billion over 10 years according to the CBO, or as much as $65 billion by the VA. As with all entitlements proposed by liberals, there is no end date, no exit strategy on this benefit. No distinction between today's veterans serving in time of war and tomorrow's veterans serving in time of peace. For that matter, this bill makes no distinction between a Marine who spends two tours in Iraq and another in Afghanistan, and the Army supply clerk who spends three years in an office on a stateside base.

The GI Bill came into existence as a measure of compensation for the millions of men drafted into service during WWII. The compensation was justified because those men had set aside their lives and careers to defend their country. But today's vets are all volunteers. Furthermore, nearly every man and woman in uniform today has enlisted or re-enlisted since 9/11. Thus, we all knew we were volunteering to serve in a time of war.

Also, the new GI Bill gives a great benefit to anyone without a college degree. But if you already have one, you get nothing. The general requirement for officers in today's military is a college degree, so officers would disproportionately not benefit. The competing Republican versions of the new GI Bill would let soldiers gift their accrued benefits to their spouses and children. That would give soldiers who already have a degree a stake in the pot.

Overall, the new GI Bill is an overreacing attempt to paint today's Iraq and Afghanistan veterans as victims who need to be compensated for the awful things that the evil Bush/Cheney did to us. It has the advantage of being 'for the veterans', so no politician wants to vote against it. But welfare, whether it is given to a man too lazy to work, or a combat veteran of the US military, is still welfare.

Proud veterans, not helpless victims.

2 comments:

CP said...

"The GI Bill came into existence as a measure of compensation for the millions of men drafted into service during WWII. The compensation was justified because those men had set aside their lives and careers to defend their country. But today's vets are all volunteers. Furthermore, nearly every man and woman in uniform today has enlisted or re-enlisted since 9/11. Thus, we all knew we were volunteering to serve in a time of war."

I'm confused by this message, you're saying that these brave men and women have not set aside their lives and careers to defend their nation? Several people I know left well paying Wall Street jobs to enlist. For those who joined the military right out of HS this is the least we can do to honor their service. This is not welfare, it's an investment in the future of this country. It's not like you can just say "hey, I'm in college now give me my cash!". You have to certify every month that you're still going via the VA rep at the school. If you take your average college tuition these days it is brutally expensive. A book runs anywhere between 60-120 dollars and most classes require 2 books or so. After having served 7 years I got out and went to college and am now paying out my nose for student loans. A college education is a necessity these days in order to land a well paying job and it's the least we can do for the brave men and women serving in uniform. For them to get out of their service, go to college and then make something great of themselves down the road, it's an invesment well worth paying out.

Sgt Patrick said...

I wonder if the author would change his tune if he were to learn that the White House and John McCain now both support this new GI Bill proposal. They even requested an expansion of the program by another $10 billion to include transferability.

The truth is that the GI Bill was never meant to be a form of compensation but rather a readjustment benefit for the men and women who honorably served their country. The GI Bill offers an opportunity to decompress in a safe environment and even allows a veteran catch up with their civilian counterparts who did not put their lives on hold to fight a war.

The GI Bill is also an investment in this country's future, not only in increased productivity but also by building a class of educated men and women who have already shown a dedication to public service.

Even if you don't feel like we owe a renewed GI Bill to this generation of veteran, it would be foolish not to give to them.