Audio

My first “Special Comment”. It’s on the issues that student veterans are facing with the New GI Bill.

TRANSCRIPT:

Today’s special comment: Issues with the New GI Bill.

Before I get started with the special comment, I need you to know that I’m a veteran. I served 7 years in the Army, and saw combat in Iraq.

That is why hearing that myy fellow vets are still having trouble getting their studies paid for makes me angry.

Two years ago, Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia proposed reforming the GI Bill – one of the main catalysts of our economic might after World War II. His reforms made the benefit powerful again, by including living expenses in the bargain. The reforms took effect earlier this year.

No one was surprised when the number of vets seeking a hand up, not a hand out, outstripped the VA’s capacity.

To be fair, the VA warned lawmakers and veterans’ groups that it lacked that capacity. And to its credit, the Department has responded with alacrity, first by issuing emergency checks of $3,000 apiece to help student warriors, and now by hiring an outside contractor to help with claims.

Yet, even with that emergency response, there are still veterans who could fall through the cracks…all because of the inability or unwillingness of schools to be flexible and help pay a small portion of their population.

You heard that right: people who have already given and sacrificed so much are being forced to do so yet again – their dreams deffered and, yes, denied because of an ucommon lack of common sense on the part of collegiate offices.

Let me be clear: if Alabama can afford to pay Nick Saban millions of dollars, and fully fund the studies of his football team for 4 whole years, then Tuscaloosa can temporarily foot the semester’s bill for a former infantryman. If North Carolina can foot 4 years for a student named Smith, it can easily afford a semester for Airman Ramirez.

That colleges and universities aren’t doing this, and instead demanding cold hard cash upfront, is an insult to our service. By their deeds, not their words, you shall know them, says the Good Book.

Don’t thank us for our service; show us your thanks by showing a little grace and forbearance, and instead of deferring or denying our dreams, allowing us to attain them.

Thank you for listening.

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