February 12th, 2008

WATCH: Shortchanging Our Veterans

How do we reward our veterans for putting their lives on the line? Most soldiers say they want an education, and plan to pay for it using benefits provided under the GI Bill—the same GI Bill that allowed veterans of WWII to attend any college or university that accepted them, even Harvard, for free. But times have changed.

Today’s benefits wouldn’t even cover the costs of a single year at a prestigious private university. For more than 400,000 servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s a rude awakening.

According to Virginia Senator Jim Webb, a former marine and Vietnam vet, it’s also wrong. “If we’re going to spend a trillion dollars on this war, the least we can do is to provide the people who have had to go and fight it the right kind of thanks.” Watch the full program now.

Download transcript (PDF)

This program is made possible by the following funders:
Grade Level Reading Fund of the Tides Foundation, The Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki Foundation, The Wallace Foundation, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


PodcastA Cost Of War

U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia goes through the numbers on veterans and education, and concludes that it is, essentially, a cost of war. Listen to the story.

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I find it pretty “piss-poor” that we have several veterans that have just about given up on the GI Bill due to our inability to make adjustments to the real world. When I got out of the Marine Corps in 2003, I applied for the GI Bill and was accepted. I started going to the University of Cincinnati, but for only two classes a term. I have a wife and a daughter, and a full time job to support my family. I went for two-terms and was on the Deans list for both, but was blind-sided with the reality that the GI Bill was only good for 3 years once I started it up. I was shocked and appauled, but figured there was nothing I could do.

A Bachelors Degree, for the most part, takes 4 years of full time studies, and this isn’t even efficient enough to cover that for someone that has the ability to take on that kind of post military schedule. For myself, and several others that I have spoke with, it just seems out of reach because there is no way for us to keep up with the bills, the student work-load, and the main reason for our departure from what we came to love in the military, our family.

I have been pushing for reform on this Bill since 2004, but it seems that my concerns have fallen on deaf ears. I wish this gentleman well in his pursuit of corrections with this system.

Congress is entirely too distant from the current war to even care if those troops have adequate equipment or protection much less funding for an education. The American people, as a whole, totally ignore the fact we have American men and women fighting a war that was never declared and they think because it is a “volunteer” force, these Americans are nothing more than paid merceneries. Many of these young people have served more than one tour and they most certainly do not have a choice about whether to return to Iraq or not. This has been extremely hard on these troops. their families, and the lives they cannot just pick up when they return. Yes, I agree that something must be done for these young people who have put their lives on hold in order to serve in a war that most of us do not believe has an end. I wish you success in this endeavor.

[...] You can watch this program and listen to its companion podcast right here. [...]

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