A Better GI Bill

Today, as it deliberates over the supplemental funding bill for the war, the House of Representatives will consider the new GI Bill legislation proposed by Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). The bill has broad bipartisan support from 330 senators and represenatives, along with the support of every veterans' service organization and advocacy group, including mine, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. And yet, the legislation's fate appears uncertain, because of opposition from the White House, the Pentagon and Sen. John McCain.

The Pentagon offers two basic arguments against the Webb bill -- that it would make recruiting more costly and that it would give the smartest troops in the service (i.e. those with the potential to attend college) an incentive to get out. To both arguments, I say balderdash.

Educational benefits are the best recruiting tool we have -- they bring in top-quality recruits and ultimately benefit the United States economy with long-term investment in human capital. (Economists report that the WWII GI Bill produced a 7-to-1 return on investment.) This bill will cost between $2.5 billion and $4 billion. Which is a lot of money when compared to the total VA budget (approximately $93 billion) or the current recruiting budgets. But it's a paltry sum when compared with the cost of the war. It's equivalent to two weeks of combat operations in Iraq. And that's the metric we should be using, because taking care of veterans is a cost of war.

Second, I simply don't buy the argument that a better GI bill will hurt the services by giving smart recruits the incentive to leave. I've seen the Pentagon data, and I find it takes a narrow view of the problem. It ignores the positive effects this will have on the aggregate quality of the force and the likelihood that this will bring in more top-quality recruits than it will cost the services.

And, more broadly, I disagree with the beancounter mentality behind this view of the GI Bill. We shouldn't fund veterans' benefits because of cost-benefit analyses; we should fund them because of the sacred trust we hold to take care of America's sons and daughters who serve in the military. The simple fact is that today's GI Bill won't even cover tuition and living expenses at my public alma mater, UCLA, let alone a private college or graduate school. That's wrong. We owe veterans a better GI Bill that they can use in the 21st Century.

By Phillip Carter |  May 8, 2008; 7:34 AM ET  | Category:  Veterans
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Amen! Great post.

You highlight the two points that continually need emphasis: the potential benefits for both our nation and the military that come with an expanded GI Bill.

The military's opposition to expanded GI Bill benefits reveals the cynical worldview that developed with the all-volunteer force: the notion that while technically "volunteers", the DoD doesn't want to give the proper transition assistance for those seeking to do anything other than "revolunteer" due to family considerations or other reasons. I saw this first-hand on active duty in the 10th Mountain where at least 75% of the unit-level reup pitch involved telling young soldiers that they CAN'T afford to get out of the Army; that they CAN'T succeed in college; that they CAN'T do any better than renlisting. What a tragedy. If the AVF's continuation is predicated on creating a sense of doubt on the part of soldiers who would rather not renlist, is this viable in the long term? I'm not sure. It's certainly not a wise course of action.

Although assigned to USAREC upon ETS, I did my ACAP processing through Ft. Drum. Again, even here, at a supposed "transition course", many aspects were a thinly veiled reup pitch. Most of my fellow ACAPers were 10th Mountain E-4s and E-5s just returned from Afghanistan. Even here, there was a subliminal message of "doubt" injected into their plans for the future. The eligibility of recently discharged veterans for unemployment was never discussed nor was the availability of VA healthcare. It was a piss-poor "transition" course that seemed more like "one last bite at the reenlistment apple" than a program to set CIB wearing SGTs on the road to civilian success.

As I said in your recent post re: officer retention, this "danger close"/"just in time" personnel model is unsustainable, widens the civil-military rift and jeopardizes our overall preparedness.

It is my fervent hope that cooler heads prevail and this legislation becomes law. There is no question that more robust GI Bill will positively impact recruit quality and broaden the pool of young Americans that will consider military service.

This is personal for me. The MGIB helped me attain a Law Degree and MPH after active duty and provided financial support to study in South Africa and "survive" while taking a low-paid fellowship at CDC. That said, the MGIB did not come anywhere near to covering expense/tuition and effectively limited my choice to the SUNY system.

Posted by: IRR Soldier .... | May 8, 2008 8:25 AM

Of course, there's one other issue that the opposition to this measure ignores: Without better GI benefits, many of those "smarter soldiers/sailors/airmen" may never join in the first place, neatly "solving" the problem of their departures before the end of a career.

The military -- and society -- benefit from having as broad a spectrum of volunteers in the military as possible. It benefits the military by giving exposure to the good (and the bad) of military service to future potential civilian leaders... which is also a benefit to society. Ironically, this implicates many of the same "high-paying jobs" in the military-industrial complex from those bloated weapons-system contracts.

Posted by: C.E. Petit | May 8, 2008 11:14 AM

The fear may be that a GI Bill for military service equal to its value may cause the infusion of such citizens with this experince but without an approved inheritance to blend among the current elite so well endowed by birth, greed and tax exemption privileges.

Posted by: Bill Keller | May 8, 2008 1:18 PM

McCain's effort to defeat the Webb-Hagel bill is a shameful betrayal of fellow veterans. It is another phony Republican version of "supporting the troops."

Posted by: Glenn Becker | May 8, 2008 3:30 PM

The Army Army (as opposed to the Civilian Administration filled DA positions) response to questions like these is always subject to the caveat that "Good Officers" are well trained in speaking the administration line until they are out of the chain of command.

NO republican administration since Nixon has been willing to pay for a real GI bill, because those programs are basically too "Socialist" for the conservatives who have regularly opposed the idea of ANY GI bill (I remember an article in American Legion magazine describing opposition to the first GI Bill from, among other groups, other Veterans Organizations.) The current Montgomery GI Bill requires significant monetary input from soldiers, especially during their first few, low paid, years in service, (seemingly to discourage use of the system) so that "The soldiers will value the benefit more..."

The real opposition is good old Reagonomics, in that the Federal Government is wrong and shouldn't be well paid because it IS wrong. The GI Bill would be a federal program, it would go to people who otherwise would never even consider going to elite schools because what help they get under the current program doesn't begin to cover real expenses at any private college and really makes attending public schools a tight budget.

The real question will be, when George vetoes the bill will John McCain vote to uphold the veto. If he does, every active, reserve, and guard member of the military ought to accept that as John's repudiation of the troops and vote Democratic, across the board.

Support our troops? Yep, pass the Webb GI Bill.

Posted by: ceflynline@msn.com | May 8, 2008 3:44 PM

Amen Mr. Carter!

The Montgomery GI Bill might have been good enough during peacetime. But service members in today's forces, especially the combat arms, deserve to have Sen. Webb's bill become law.

After all, these guys have the least amount of expertise transferrable to civilan life. The subtext of the "retention" argument is:

These 11B's can't get a job in a tight economy, and if we let them think they can go to college, they won't re-up.

And McCain's opposition is unfathomable to me.

He's not the John McCain of 2000. Heck, he's not the John McCain of 2007.

Posted by: DanPatrick | May 8, 2008 5:18 PM

"To both arguments, I say balderdash."

You also said "good bye" on your way out to nab a law degree at UCLA. Later, you reiterated that point when choosing not to remain in the IRR after your tour in OIF.

I suffer from the same autobiography, so I'm not suggesting what you did was either wrongheaded or perfidious. Like you, I also champion this bill.

But that doesn't mean that the Pentagon's positions are "balderdash." They're probably right. We just happen to believe that the good from the 21st Century GI Bill outweighs these concerns.

I don't know about your time at UCLA, Phil, but when I went to Tulane Law on the Montgomery GI Bill, it provided something like $300 monthly to my sustinence.

Since that didn't even cover rent, it seemed pretty worthless.

Posted by: Carl P | May 8, 2008 5:41 PM

McCain would also require more time served before gaining the GI Bill. This is to extract a greater of the serviceman's commercially competitive time against peers who do not serve. An offering of partnership or access to wealth management would be achieved by those who stay home while the older veteran who be starting as a clerk or intern. It is a bad deal for the vet. (It also demeans the profession of those who choose a full military career.)

Jim Webb has produced a fairer by far GI Bill.

Posted by: Bill Keller | May 8, 2008 9:13 PM

Well, as someone who was covered by the worst GI bill in history--that provided to us from Vietnam--I won't argue with the premise that combat veterans need the best GI bill the taxpayers can afford. I'll also say this: if they'd had a Montgomery GI Bill when I was enlisted, my life might have worked out entirely differently. I got the free ride from the Army: degree and the bar, but I paid for it with years of my life. As I look back, an excellent GI Bill might well have prompted me to leave. Or maybe not. We'll never know.

But now, I'm going to be the proverbial t**d in the punchbowl. It's interesting that the only people posting here are officers, all of whom somehow managed to get very well educated. I'd like to hear something from the enlisted side of the house, preferably from those who entered without any college and from less than privileged backgrounds. Frankly, inasmuch as virtually all officers enter onto active duty with at least a bachelor's degree, I'm not shedding a lot of tears for the officers. Sorry, guys. You were in the top quartile when you entered. You were already ahead of the game. I worry about Snuffy.

Here's what prompts these subversive thoughts:

"The simple fact is that today's GI Bill won't even cover tuition and living expenses at my public alma mater, UCLA, let alone a private college or graduate school. That's wrong. We owe veterans a better GI Bill that they can use in the 21st Century."

And this:

"The MGIB helped me attain a Law Degree and MPH after active duty and provided financial support to study in South Africa and "survive" while taking a low-paid fellowship at CDC. That said, the MGIB did not come anywhere near to covering expense/tuition and effectively limited my choice to the SUNY system."

Well, excuse me, guys, exactly what do you expect from the American taxpayers? From the taxpayers who stretch like hell to send their kids to public schools and for whom private universities are only a dream? And you want them to send you to Harvard? Or to pay for you to study in South Africa? What world do you live in?

The way you who've posted come across is as about as self-interested as I can imagine. It looks to me as if you expect the taxpayers to pay for law school at Harvard. For one year, maybe, in a war zone in which 4K service personnel have died in five years. And when officers other than infantry second lieutenants traditionally do not die in numbers approaching those of enlisted personnel. How much do you want from the American people, now struggling to stay afloat given the gross betrayal by their political leadership?

I'd favor a good, strong GI Bill to cover costs of education at a public university, in-state rates. No private schools. News flash: degrees from public schools are perfectly acceptable in this country. Hate to say it, but what I've seen so far smacks terribly of elitism. Law school. MPH. Studying in South Africa. Complaining about going to a public university. That's elitism, folks.

Let me know when you want to talk about getting PFCs and SGTs a ticket to the big show in America through access to higher education. Your personal distress at not being able to attend private law schools on the taxpayers' nickel doesn't really fire me up.

Posted by: Publius | May 8, 2008 9:53 PM

Senator Webb call's the Pentagon's belief that an expanded GI Bill would make war time retention more difficult "absurd". He then says:

" (the services) have got this one demographic group they keep pounding on and throwing money at. Yet there's a whole different demographic group that would be attracted to coming in and serving a term."

Talk about "absurd". What new demographic group will all of a sudden want to volunteer because of enhanced college benefits? I do see the Pentagon's perspective that they see no realistic increase in recruiting, but more incentives for service members not to reenlist.

The only way I can imagine that a new "demographic" would be attracted would be if the new GI Bill catered to the kids who want to go to the private, Ivy league schools. Is this what he is talking about?

As much as I support the bill and hope it passes, I fear that DoD's fear of falling retention numbers will encourage them to continue the stop-loss policies, which, in my mind, is grossly abused. This is of no fault to DoD who is simply trying to meet the requirements placed on them by the civilian led government, and DoD is forced to use whatever legal means available to include Stop-Loss.

If Senator Webb wants to make serious strides to ensure that this GI Bill gets used, there should be a congressional effort to end Stop-Loss. When a service member's contract is over, it is over. Period. I don't care if they are in the middle of a deployment. It is after all, meant to be an all volunteer force.

Of course, the organization culture of the military will not likely accept this idea, and all kinds of incentives (along with command/peer pressure) will be thrown at a service member who wants to end his/her enlistment during a deployment. Therefore, there should be a provision that allows the service member to extend to the end of the deployment, with a guarantee that upon returning home, he/she will be out of the military within 90 days of returning home.

But ending Stop-Loss may help to overcome another aspect of the military culture. Our military culture is not one to say, "sorry, we can't do it." Instead, we will find a way to make it work. Stop-Loss has been one of those tools we've reached for time and time again to meet manpower requirements. Perhaps if Stop-Loss was gone, our military leaders would finally be able to say, "Sorry, Sir, we just can't support that requirement."


Posted by: bg | May 8, 2008 11:08 PM

Senator Webb call's the Pentagon's belief that an expanded GI Bill would make war time retention more difficult "absurd". He then says:

" (the services) have got this one demographic group they keep pounding on and throwing money at. Yet there's a whole different demographic group that would be attracted to coming in and serving a term."

Talk about "absurd". What new demographic group will all of a sudden want to volunteer because of enhanced college benefits? I do see the Pentagon's perspective that they see no realistic increase in recruiting, but more incentives for service members not to reenlist.

The only way I can imagine that a new "demographic" would be attracted would be if the new GI Bill catered to the kids who want to go to the private, Ivy league schools. Is this what he is talking about?

As much as I support the bill and hope it passes, I fear that DoD's fear of falling retention numbers will encourage them to continue the stop-loss policies, which, in my mind, is grossly abused. This is of no fault to DoD who is simply trying to meet the requirements placed on them by the civilian led government, and DoD is forced to use whatever legal means available to include Stop-Loss.

If Senator Webb wants to make serious strides to ensure that this GI Bill gets used, there should be a congressional effort to end Stop-Loss. When a service member's contract is over, it is over. Period. I don't care if they are in the middle of a deployment. It is after all, meant to be an all volunteer force.

Of course, the organization culture of the military will not likely accept this idea, and all kinds of incentives (along with command/peer pressure) will be thrown at a service member who wants to end his/her enlistment during a deployment. Therefore, there should be a provision that allows the service member to extend to the end of the deployment, with a guarantee that upon returning home, he/she will be out of the military within 90 days of returning home.

But ending Stop-Loss may help to overcome another aspect of the military culture. Our military culture is not one to say, "sorry, we can't do it." Instead, we will find a way to make it work. Stop-Loss has been one of those tools we've reached for time and time again to meet manpower requirements. Perhaps if Stop-Loss was gone, our military leaders would finally be able to say, "Sorry, Sir, we just can't support that requirement."


Posted by: bg | May 8, 2008 11:08 PM

Senator Webb call's the Pentagon's belief that an expanded GI Bill would make war time retention more difficult "absurd". He then says:

" (the services) have got this one demographic group they keep pounding on and throwing money at. Yet there's a whole different demographic group that would be attracted to coming in and serving a term."

Talk about "absurd". What new demographic group will all of a sudden want to volunteer because of enhanced college benefits? I do see the Pentagon's perspective that they see no realistic increase in recruiting, but more incentives for service members not to reenlist.

The only way I can imagine that a new "demographic" would be attracted would be if the new GI Bill catered to the kids who want to go to the private, Ivy league schools. Is this what he is talking about?

As much as I support the bill and hope it passes, I fear that DoD's fear of falling retention numbers will encourage them to continue the stop-loss policies, which, in my mind, is grossly abused. This is of no fault to DoD who is simply trying to meet the requirements placed on them by the civilian led government, and DoD is forced to use whatever legal means available to include Stop-Loss.

If Senator Webb wants to make serious strides to ensure that this GI Bill gets used, there should be a congressional effort to end Stop-Loss. When a service member's contract is over, it is over. Period. I don't care if they are in the middle of a deployment. It is after all, meant to be an all volunteer force.

Of course, the organization culture of the military will not likely accept this idea, and all kinds of incentives (along with command/peer pressure) will be thrown at a service member who wants to end his/her enlistment during a deployment. Therefore, there should be a provision that allows the service member to extend to the end of the deployment, with a guarantee that upon returning home, he/she will be out of the military within 90 days of returning home.

But ending Stop-Loss may help to overcome another aspect of the military culture. Our military culture is not one to say, "sorry, we can't do it." Instead, we will find a way to make it work. Stop-Loss has been one of those tools we've reached for time and time again to meet manpower requirements. Perhaps if Stop-Loss was gone, our military leaders would finally be able to say, "Sorry, Sir, we just can't support that requirement."

Posted by: bg | May 8, 2008 11:08 PM

Wow, how did that happen? Sorry for the rapid fire posts.

Posted by: bg | May 8, 2008 11:10 PM

"And you want them to send you to Harvard? Or to pay for you to study in South Africa? What world do you live in?"

I don't know, Publius. My country didn't mind sending my ass to Ramadi. Why not Harvard?

Still seems like I got the worst end of that deal.

Posted by: Carl P | May 8, 2008 11:51 PM

Oh, yeah, and for the record, I was a CPL.

Posted by: Carl P | May 8, 2008 11:52 PM

Oh, yeah. And I was stop lossed. And I was infantry.

Can I get a real GI Bill now?

Posted by: Carl P | May 8, 2008 11:57 PM

"Well, excuse me, guys, exactly what do you expect from the American taxpayers?"

Look, the GI Bill is not what it used to be or what it was meant to be. Let's forget the Africa studying/toilet building/Harvard Law stuff. This is really about a means to offer our young Soldiers the increasingly elusive American dream. I have zero numbers to support it, so this is all conjecture, but it seemed to me that a good chunk of my Soldiers (40% as a SWAG) came from broken homes/single parent homes, and/or socio-economically disenfranchised backgrounds. So what the heck is wrong with saying, "Hey Snuffy, yeah your last two 15 months rotations (out of your 48 month enlistment contract), the last of which we stopped-lossed you for -our bad...yeah, well, here's a little something to further round-you-out as a productive member of our society. Maybe you when you are taking a break from your studies and watching your buddies on Work Study mopping the Student Union floor, you might laugh to yourself about the nights you spent burning wax to buff the floors. And you can say to yourself, 'Man, I'm glad, I don't have to work, so I can focus on my studying thanks to my GI Bill.'" Okay, so yeah, that's a bit cliche, but not too far off from what our Veterans should be saying to themselves.

I find it whole heartedly unconscionable that the GI Bill doesn't cover public education in the State of California -one of the best valued educations in the country. I think yearly tuition at the UC's is $7200. During the late 90's it was $4500. Even then I had a buddy who had to take a Navy ROTC scholarship to supplement the GI Bill. Does something sound horribly wrong with that? Well it should. The GI Bill, and dang near everything else veteran service related in our country is broken. Our young Service members deserve better. And, yes, Mr Publius, if Joe or Josephine wants to go to Harvard Law or build toilets in Africa and sing Cumbaya (sic) through his GI Bill, that is a small price the American tax payer can pay for the eternal vigilance they provide.

Posted by: Travis Reed | May 9, 2008 3:05 AM

Have to go with Publius on this one. I don't see where funding at the private college level is called for, as much because private tuition has gone insane in the past twenty years as for the strain on the taxpayer. But I will agree that the MGIB payment levels were almost insulting low. I had my BA when I went in (one of I think two enlisted guys with a four year degree in my battalion, BTW, something perhaps we should think about in terms of what it says about the way Americans REALLY think of enlisted service - not so sure we're all that far from "I'd rather see my son dead than in a red coat" if we were honest with ourselves) so I was looking for grad school when I got out of the RA. Good luck with that. The RC had some nickel-and-dime help that I was grateful for but I ended up putting myself through grad school on the cuff...it chapped my ass at the time and still bites a little when I think back. Worth noting that I don't find evidence that this bill would have helped me, either.

Still - better than MGIB and worth passing. Given the miniscule numbers of veterans compared to the nation as a whole, and the qualfications needed to earn these benefits, I'd rather put the money there than in yet ANOTHER tax giveaway to the two-yacht family...

Posted by: FDChief | May 9, 2008 5:31 AM

FDChief/Publius:

"I'd favor a good, strong GI Bill to cover costs of education at a public university, in-state rates."

I feel compelled to point out that this is exactly what the Webb bill does - it indexes tuition reimbursement at rates for public schools, and offers some additional funds matching for private IF the private school coughs up a similar vets program.

Posted by: Ray Kimball | May 9, 2008 6:51 AM

3 points --

First, I should note that I was never eligible for the GI Bill because I joined the Army through ROTC and accepted a 2-year scholarship for tuition at UCLA (total value $10,000). You could say that I screwed up, because had I opted for the GI Bill instead, I would've likely earned a lot more for school.

Or maybe not. The second point is that the total cost of education includes a lot more than tuition. Cost of living is a big expense, usually bigger than the cost of tuition, and the GI Bill doesn't provide enough to cover that these days. I've got no problem with working full time to pay for school; I did it. But we should recognize that today's GI Bill makes that a requirement.

Third point -- states and universities often kick in money too. Some states, like Texas, have extremely generous education benefits for vets. In many cases, this enables vets to stretch their GI Bill dollars to pay for school. The states see it as patriotic, and also a good investment in human capital. Just another sign that our "laboratories of democracy" at the state level sometimes get it right more than the federal govt.

Posted by: Phillip Carter | May 9, 2008 8:46 AM

The current GI bill requires soldiers to pay in to the system early on in order to obtain the benefits later. Problem is, many are never given this key piece of information. So that lose out on it with the assumption that the GI bill is an automatic benefit afforded to them as soldiers. Seems a little disingenuous don't you think?

Posted by: IvyLeagueGrunt | May 9, 2008 8:53 AM

Phil Carter and Ray Kimball raise good points, but what's also forgotten is that Harvard, et al, are more likely to have programs in place that excuse large amounts of tuition for all students, regardless of their veterans' status.

It actually was cheaper for me to attend law school at Tulane than it was Indiana Univerity (home state's school) because the Hoosier state didn't subsidize the institution generously. Adding insult was the fact that I paid taxes during many years of USMC service to Indiana, never once sojourning home on leave.

So Indiana taxed my meager enlisted wages, then offered nothing in the way of tuition rebate for missing out years of my young adult life in uniform.

Now I live in Pennsylvania. While I paid for my graduate schooling on my own, when I returned to active duty and spent my days getting shot at in Ramadi, I found it insulting that upon my return the Montgomery GI Bill hadn't expanded during the last seven years of war.

Not for me, because I have my education, but for all the young men who fought with me. They end up in the PAARNG because the Guard's tuition reimbursement program is far, far, far better than anything GI Bill will provide.

So they continue to trade service for education, expecting to rotate for their 18-month call ups.

I've never bought into the notion that veterans are "better" than anyone else in this society. But we do give up a substantial chunk of our young adult lives for service, often in combat, while our peers back home go to school.

Is it so much to ask that we have the same sort of GI Bill our grandfathers earned on the battlefield?

Posted by: Carl P | May 9, 2008 10:46 AM

"First, I should note that I was never eligible for the GI Bill because I joined the Army through ROTC and accepted a 2-year scholarship for tuition at UCLA (total value $10,000). You could say that I screwed up, because had I opted for the GI Bill instead, I would've likely earned a lot more for school."

That was some pretty important information, Phil. You should have included it when you chose to personalize the story.

Let me 'splain something to you, IRR, and any other officers who feel compelled to complain about their treatment WRT any GI bill: you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You follow? An awful lot of Americans--especially those with enlisted service or who know someone with enlisted service--view military officers as a privileged class to begin with; for officers to personalize this important issue is, IMO, a sure-fire way of turning the audience off. You saw my reaction. Just like big boys aren't supposed to cry, officers aren't supposed to whine. Officers are ultimately free agents, and face it, when it comes to education, they're already better off than 75% of their fellow Americans. Imagine how a high school graduate in Michigan laid off from a well-paying job at GM or Ford and now working at Walmart to support his family will react to your tales of woe. Imagine how willing he'd be to pay for a tax increase to benefit you.

Fundamental journalistic precepts call for "grabbers" in a story such as this. Tales of woe from officers don't fit the bill, especially when they're reservists and haven't spent much time on active duty. The "grabber" I would have liked to have seen would have addressed an RA SGT with 2-3 sandbox tours in five years. Or something about one of the (unfortunately) wounded vets. These are the guys, those with high school or community college, and who want to better themselves, who really need the assistance. Not too many Americans are going to have much sympathy for guys scrounging for law school tuition bucks.

Carl, I know your story and it's a most admirable one. I also like your reporting. But you're not the poster child for this, either. And you know it.

Good subject. This is an area where we need to put the heat on Congress. Don't even try with BushCo. That's a lost cause. I don't know if you guys still in the military have broken the code yet, but you don't have any friends in the administration. And that includes those guys in the Pentagon. It includes your senior generals, as well. They will unfailingly parrot the administration's party line. Want proof? For the past three years, the administration, supported by the uniformed chiefs of the military services, has included provisions to double retiree Tricare fees (triple for officers). Each time, Congress has rejected it. They're trying it again this year, but Congress will likely reject it again. How is that relevant to you? Well, retiree health care is a pretty important retention tool, wouldn't you think? If the Bush Administration doesn't care about that, they're certainly not going to support enhanced educational benefits, especially if they think it'll be a disincentive to stay in.

This administration cares nothing for the military. You don't have any friends in this administration.

Posted by: Publius | May 9, 2008 3:08 PM

Geez, I'm starting to think I should have grabbed one of those bundles of cash we paid our Iraqi contractors with and taken it home to pay for tuition :).

Posted by: PFM | May 9, 2008 3:08 PM

Actually, it can be done. I retired at 27 as a Sergeant Major with an AA, BA, MBA, and a Master of Teaching. I used all except 1.5 hours of my GI Bill. It took careful management, but it was possible.

Posted by: WCR | May 9, 2008 4:04 PM

While fewer and fewer WWII and Korea Vets are around to remember their GI bills (and fewer to serve in Congress and support or oppose giving the same to this generation.) they should remember that that GI bill took out of service, out of work vets, kept them alive and active for four years, and got particularly productive taxpayers as a result. The Viet Nam GI bill was mostly a frustration, since it barely covered tuition except at state resident rates, so if you went to school on the GI bill you had to figure out how to eat, pay the rent, etc on your own. that DISCOURAGED use of the GI bill. WWII vets, facing the post war jobs crash and housing shortage had a real incentive to get the education (or apprenticeship - they were also GI bill recipients, like my dad, who used his GI bill to become a toolmaker) because it gave them a home, food, and an occupation while the economy sorted itself out.

Damn shame that taxpayers have to foot the bill to make more taxpayers, but it makes sense in the long run. And sending the GIs to top private schools, like, say, GW, or Georgetown, or U Dayton, support those institutions as well. The point, that over time the WWII GI bill paid for itself many times over in well compensated professionals paying taxes is reason enough to bring it back.

Publius is quite right, nobody in the military, right up to CJCS himself, has any friends at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. They believe that if you were fool enough to follow the eagles you deserve to be redrafted whenever they find it convenient. Nowhere out there in Republican Strong on Defense LaLa land will you find any dissent on that question.

But, since the service is to be allvol, at least let the vols go when their agreed on term of service is up. Let them become good, well compensated Republicans who don't want THEIR taxes used to educate enlisted men like Bush and McCain propose.

Make more taxpayers, pass the Webb GI bill.

Posted by: ceflynine@msn.com | May 9, 2008 8:32 PM

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