The New G.I. Bill (bumped)

Updates: The bill becomes law! From Newsweek:

Under the bill, veterans can attend the most expensive public university in their home state for four years with tuition fully covered—or they can apply the amount to tuition at a private university. They will also get $1,000 a month for housing and living expenses and more money for books and tutoring. The Pentagon opposed the bill, fearing fewer GIs would re-enlist as a result, but VirginiaDemocratic Sen. Jim Webb, the bill’s sponsor, believes it will actually lead to higher recruitment numbers.

Now what gets soldiers like me really going is the transfer of benefits to spouses. (see below). Dartmouth College President James Wright helped craft the bill. He pointed out that the cost of private universities made the Pentagon balk at first. Senior DOD leadership feared an exodus of non-commissioned officers and junior officers (sergeants, lieutenants and captains). They are the middle management of the military. They left in droves during the Clinton years and to some extent after the first phases of the Iraq war. However James Wright adds:

I think the Congressional Budget Office suggested there could be up to a 16 percent drop in re-enlistment [as a result of the new bill]. … But they also thought there would be a 16 percent increase in enlistments. So I think recruitment is going to increase significantly and the quality of recruitment is going to increase significantly. Over the past two years, the Army has had to accept enlistees who need a waiver of their education or some of their behavior requirements, and I don’t think this is how you build an all-volunteer army.

Their will be a short term loss, but long term gains. When my dad was at Costco, I had to convince him that instead of paying for tire repairs, he could buy the $40 warranty (back then it was $40 per tire I think). That warranty covered everything for the life of the tire. Given the way my dad drove, it saved him loads of money. He was against it at first, but when we ran over nails and deflated two tires, he thanked me.

Check out Military.com’s guided tour of the new G.I. Bill. We get to transfer our benefits to our spouses. Like that warranty, this G.I. Bill is expensive upfront, but the money saved by keeping troops in the ranks (and sending many more spouses to college) will pay huge dividends.

Wired raked the president over the coals for his opposition to the bill. I have a love-hate relationship with Wired. They pimp the latest tech, they had free online versions of their dead-tree edition articles before it was cool. However when it comes to defense and government, they drink deeply of the haterade.

I find it insincere to diss the military and troops on one hand then say you support them on the other. Bush had reasonable objections, you have to pay for this bill after all. But that does not matter when it come the Bush derangement syndrome.

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