I have never worn the uniform of my country’s military and at my age never will. I have almost never agreed with the missions they have been sent on in my lifetime. That being said I have respect for the service of our military personnel and feel safer going to sleep each night knowing they are guarding over my country. While we can’t give our veterans a blank check for the rest of their lives I feel we are not doing enough for most of them and certainly don’t begrudge them the benefits they are receiving. Despite their rhetoric, I can’t say the Republicans have that same respect. A distasteful example of that largely flew under the radar last week and today I’d like to expose it. Let’s explore.
House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe (R-TN) has draft legislation pending before his committee that would effectively tax new enlistees for their GI educational benefits. Roe’s legislation would have new military enlisted personnel buy into their education benefits at a rate of $100 per month for their first 24 months of service. New recruits earn $1,479.30 a month. After two years of service and assuming they have reached the E4 pay grade their annual salary would be $26,348.40. E4’s with less than two years of service gets $25,066.80. Moral of the story: Nobody gets rich as a young enlisted person. However Roe, whose government annual base salary is $174,000, thinks these guys and gals should kick in $2,400 over two years if they want educational assistance after they re-enter civilian life.
It is difficult to pinpoint military pay because many other factors enter into it. The above paragraph was a fair and reasonable representation from a “ground level” view. Now let’s look at it from “30,000 feet”. We are projected to spend about $10 billion a year on those benefits for the next decade. The savings by “taxing” our military personnel would be about $310 million a year over that same period. The $100 a month to a young person who generally came from a poor background and is not making a lot of money is a big deal. $310 million is little more than a rounding error in our military budget (I hope that’s where this money comes from). I won’t get into the moral objection – I have learned most Republicans lack morals.
This benefit isn’t simply given to our veterans; it is earned. In order to be eligible the veteran must have spent three years on active duty, been on active duty as part of a reserve outfit or been wounded while serving.
The benefit is tuition at a four year state school or the equivalent at a private school along with a housing stipend; a great benefit but far from a “luxury plan”.
If Roe and the Trump administration were serious about protecting veterans when it comes to education they would crack down on the for-profit “schools” that are little more than scams that prey on our young veterans. They exhaust their benefits and in return hand them a useless degree that has little or no value in the job market. Instead of continuing the crackdown started under the Obama administration under Betsy DeVos it appears to be a blind government eye and full speed ahead for the exploitation of our returning veterans. Could you expect much more from the man behind Trump University?
Speaking of President Trump, part of what David Farenthold won his Pulitzer Prize for was exposing Trump’s phantom charitable donations to veterans.
Maybe disrespecting veterans by using them is part of the GOP’s DNA. Remember it was Herbert Hoover who set troops with fixed bayonets, tear gas and tanks on veterans who formed the “Bonus Army”. The crux of that incident was veterans’ benefits. Just a random thought: did that incident constitute a chemical weapon attack on unarmed, non-combatant citizens?
They can wave all the flags they like and make a plethora of grandiose speeches; but the Republicans are no friends of America’s veterans!
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