- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2008

Dear Sgt. Shaft:

As our nation enters into the sixth year of the Iraq war this month, the time for a new GI Bill for our post-9/11 service members is six years overdue. On my first day as a United States senator, I introduced a bill — the Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S22) — that would provide proper educational benefits for our returning servicemen and women. For the last year, I have committed myself to ensuring that this bill passes Congress and is signed into law.

This legislation has received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House of Representatives and a majority in the Senate. It has also been endorsed by all of the major veterans” service organizations.

These past six years have placed hardships on all aspects of our military. I firmly believe that our military men and women, most of whom have served multiple tours in Iraq or Afghanistan, have earned this educational benefit. The bill would provide not only for our active-duty service members, but for our National Guard and Reserve units as well.

It would provide full tuition for any service member that has served since 9/11 at any public university including a housing allowance based on the cost of living in the area. For those who wish to attend a private university, the benefit would provide the amount of the highest in-state tuition and match dollar for dollar any aid distributed by the university.

It is time that the administration and Pentagon get behind this piece of legislation. It is one thing to call our returning men and women the next “greatest generation,” but until we give them the educational tools that transformed a nation over 50 years ago, it is simply rhetoric and not reality.

Whether you agree with the current policy in Iraq or not, one thing that we can all agree on is that the unwavering commitment of our men and women serving abroad deserves a commitment from our nation that we will take care of them when they return home. I hope that you”ll join me in urging Congress to pass S22.

Sincerely,

Sen. Jim Webb

Virginia Democrat

Dear Sen. Webb:

I am reminded of a quote by our first commander in chief, George Washington: “The willingness with which our young people are likely to serve in any war, no matter how justified, shall be directly proportional to how they perceive the veterans of earlier wars were treated and appreciated by their nation.”

I join you and the many veterans’ service organizations that support your efforts to promote the welfare of our nation”s veterans, As the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has so aptly stated:

There is nothing controversial about S22 or its companion bill in the House, H.R. 2702. It would provide our troops a new GI Bill that is more representative of today”s cost of education in our nation”s colleges and universities. The current Montgomery GI Bill accounts for only 50 percent of the average cost of college today, and the benefit for Guard and Reserve members is drastically less.

A responsible, educated, military veteran re-entering society is a win-win for America, and we sincerely hope that those who are running for public office this fall will also embrace its passage as their goal, too.

Send letters to Sgt. Shaft, c/o John Fales, P.O. Box 65900, Washington, D.C. 20035-5900; fax 301/622-3330; call 202/257-5446; or e-mail sgtshaft@bavf.org.


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