Thursday, January 08, 2015

A DFL slap in my veteran face

With the start of a new legislative session comes the news that a priority bill by the DFL will be 'free tuition' for high school students for a two year degree.  Typical of their limited experience with the current generation of military members and recent veterans, this idea of state paid college tuition for anyone is a direct slap in the face to those who earned theirs.

Like many veterans, I took advantage of the school benefits offered to me by the GI Bill.  In exchange for limited tuition assistance (capped at $4500 per year) I was obligated to serve a minimum of 24 months on active duty, 2 years of my life.  Those two years of service that qualified me for the GI Bill consisted of 6 months in Mississippi away from my family for mobilization training, and 16 months in a combat zone, where we were subject to conditions that most civilians would consider intolerable; no right to privacy while living in an open air tent, threat to life and limb from constant mortar attacks, Improvised Explosive Devices, and the old fashioned gun battle, and further separation from friends and family.

For that service, I along with many other veterans feel that we earned the school benefits we used after returning home.  I was obligated to submit mountains of paperwork, monthly verifications of my attendence, and acheive a final grade of no less than a C to keep my benefits.

In contrast, the DFL wants to give high school students a free two year college degree, no strongs attached and limited rules that would apply.  Minnesota students are already eleigible for Post Secondary Enrollent Options, which allow hard working high school students to double up on college classes while still in high school, a program which encourages hard work and ambition.  A free college degree would enable high school students to avoid adulthood for two more years, taking dual advantage of the fact that Obamacare requires their parents to carry them on their health insurance plans.  Free college for any high school student would draw an enormous number of non-motivated students, who will see college as a way to avoid having to get a job.

But most of all, free tuition to any high school student will devalue and disrespect the agreement millions of veterans made with their Uncle Sam-first you serve your country, then you get school.

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