After signing a $162 billion war funding bill, to include a $63 billion overhaul of GI Bill education benefits on Monday, June 30, 2008, President Bush said, “The bill shows even in an election year, Republicans and Democrats can come together to stand behind our troops.”
Yes, it’s an election year – evidenced by Bush and his Congress having gotten off their fat asses long enough to do something. Yes, they were all together; and yes, they were all behind the troops. They are so far behind, in fact, many troops can’t even see them.
For hundreds of thousands of servicemembers who were on active duty during the 9/11 attacks and who then served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not apply. If a servicemember separated, retired or will separate or retire before August 01, 2009, their GI Bill is per usual (not Post-9/11) – meaning that, among other things, it cannot be transferred to dependents as will be allowed under the Post-9/11 GI Bill.
By the time this bill takes effect, it will benefit more people who will have never deployed and who will never have never seen combat than it will those who have. This is because having been deployed and/or having served in combat is not a requirement. That’s all fine and good until one considers the much-touted motivation behind the bill.
“Eighteen months ago, we began with the simple concept that those who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first-class educational future as those who served during World War II,” Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. said. “Today, we have accomplished that goal.”
Say again your last – over!
Again, for hundreds of thousands of servicemembers who were on active duty during the 9/11 attacks and who then served in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Post-9/11 GI Bill does not apply.
Yes, Virginia, there is no grandfather clause.
A significant percentage of the current military has never deployed, much less been in combat. This is why we hear of those who have served multiple tours. They’re doing time(s) for those we don’t hear about: those who have gone nowhere. Alas, if not for these fortunate souls who will reap the most benefit from this bill, there would be few who would. That wouldn’t look good, now would it?
To answer the question most asked of this newly retired servicemember’s spouse: Yes, our children rate that money. My husband’s college days were over before he enlisted in the Marine Corps, as were mine. We should not have to go into debt again (we’ve long paid off our own college debts) to pay for our children’s college education while their father’s benefit goes unused because of a random date imposed upon those who have served their country in combat.
Forget the benefit it would have had for our children. The benefit to my husband — a Marine with 23 years of active duty that included 9/11 and serving in Iraq — is non-existent. That’s not standing behind him. That’s standing right in front of him and whacking him upside the head with his own wallet.
This is not a benefit for the post-9/11 military. This is a benefit for those who will happen to be on active duty almost 3,000 days later. This is a punishment imposed upon everyone else in the military who enlisted or were commissioned too early, went to war too early, and separated or retired too early – and who were not injured or killed. This bill was passed irrespective of the date for which it was named – and with total disregard for the very people Bush and the Congress would like everyone to think it’s going to help.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs sums it up best in their Post-9/11 GI Bill FAQ (their text enhancement):
How can I apply for the Post-9/11 GI Bill?
The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently “NOT” accepting applications for the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Information will be posted on our website as it becomes available.
A small child with a crayon could’ve written a better bill. For that matter, a small child with a crayon would’ve made a better president.
Forget Post-9/11 already. Let’s just try to get post-Bush. His bill sure as hell is.