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.