- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2009

Dear Sgt. Shaft,

Recent media reports have highlighted efforts to limit military recruiters’ access to high school students, but we have seen little coverage of initiatives to preserve recruiter access as prescribed in the No Child Left Behind Act authorized in 2001. The Fleet Reserve Association invites you and your readers to weigh in on this important issue.

Federally funded schools are now required to provide student contact information to military recruiters, and parents have the option to request that their children’s information be withheld. Congress will weigh opposing viewpoints as it considers reauthorizing this provision.

The association strongly supports legislation, introduced by Sen. David Vitter, Louisiana Republican, and Rep. Duncan Hunter, California Republican, (S 87 and HR 1026, respectively) that would clarify and strengthen the existing law, ensuring that military recruiters are provided the same access to schools and basic student contact information that is given to colleges, universities and civilian employers.

Rep. Michael M. Honda, California Democrat, has introduced a competing bill (HR 1091) that would require a parent’s written permission for schools to share student information. This opt-in or opt-out distinction may seem like hair-splitting, but it makes a tremendous difference in the military’s ability to reach prospective recruits.

With unemployment rates at a 15-year high, it seems illogical to make it more difficult for America’s youth to get information about opportunities to serve their country. The association believes they deserve the opportunity to explore all employment and education options, including opportunities with the armed forces. Military service is not only essential to our national security, it offers limitless opportunities for personal and professional growth, job security in a troubled economy and a wide array of benefits, including funds for college.

The association invites your readers to visit the Action Center at www.fra.org and send a message to their representatives asking them to support the Fairness for Military Recruiters Act (HR 1026) that maintains the current law requiring federally funded schools to provide equal access to military recruiters.


Joe Barnes

FRA national executive director

Dear Joe,

I urge all my readers to support this vital legislation, which strengthens access to military recruiters. Our youngsters today fall prey to our tax-funded academia propaganda factories, which unfortunately have become all to prevalent in our school systems. For this reason it is vital that our students have access to a comprehensive quality education.

With the Department of Veterans Affairs ready to begin accepting sign-ups for the Post-9/11 GI Bill this month, the Defense Department is working to get word out on its proposed policy regarding the bill’s transferability provisions to help service members decide whether the new benefit is right for them.

Bob Clark, the Pentagon’s assistant director for accessions policy, called the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which takes effect Aug. 1, an important new benefit. In addition to providing broader educational benefits, it includes a provision that enables enrollees to transfer their benefits to immediate family members.

“The transferability is going to be a tool that will allow us to retain members who have earned that great benefit and share it with their family members and continue to serve,” Mr. Clark said. “This gives them the opportunity to share those benefits that they have earned with those they love.”

The rules for Post-9/11 GI Bill transferability are in the final stages, and Mr. Clark said the Defense Department expects few changes, if any.

In a nutshell, any enlisted or commissioned member of the armed forces serving on active duty or in the Selected Reserve on or after Aug. 1 will be eligible to transfer their benefits as long as they qualify for the Post-9/11 GI Bill in the first place and meet specific service requirements, Mr. Clark explained.

He emphasized that, by law, anyone who has retired or separated from the service before that date - even if it’s July 31 - won’t be entitled to transfer their benefits. Also excluded will be members of the Individual Ready Reserve and Fleet Reserve.

Most service members who have at least six years of military service as of Aug. 1 and agree to serve an additional four years qualify, he said. But the Defense Department has proposed measures to cover several categories of service members whose circumstances don’t fit neatly into this formula.

For example, those with at least 10 years of service - but who can’t serve an additional four years because of a service or Defense Department policy - also would qualify, Mr. Clark said. They must, however, serve the maximum time allowed before separating from the military.

Another Pentagon proposal would cover service members who will reach the 20-year service mark, making them retirement-eligible, from Aug. 1 to Aug. 1, 2013.

The breakdown, which basically enables those affected to transfer benefits as long as they complete 20 years of service:

The service member’s 36 months of benefits could be transferred to a spouse, one or more children or any combination, Mr. Clark said. The family member must be enrolled in the Defense Eligibility Enrollment Reporting System to receive the benefits.

Service members also have the option to use some benefits themselves and transfer what they haven’t used to one or more family members.

Even after transferring the benefits, they remain the “property” of the service member who earned them, who can revoke them or redesignate who receives them at any time.

More details about the Post-9/11 GI Bill are posted on the Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs Web sites, and the Pentagon’s proposed transferability policy is on the Defense Department site.

• 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 [email protected]

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