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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The Bush/Chaney Administration Has Lost Its Moral Compass; If It Ever Had One

Harry T. deMoll

Although I had heard the statement before, it never the less caused me to question whether this Administration has any standards of morality; an Administration comprised of two Vietnam draft dodgers, which is so quick to send our children to war. The statement which was made in response to Sen. Jim Webb's (D-Va, a Vietnam War veteran) bill to provide educational benefits to our service members, equal in amount to the cost of tuition at any public university, was that the benefit "could hurt retention rates in the all-volunteer military because service members would be tempted to leave when they have earned the full college benefits." It was made by Defense Secretary Robert Gates (USA Today, "G.I. benefits stymie funding bill).

The whole purpose of the original G.I. Bill, which was enacted near the end of WW II, was to help returning veterans assimilate back into society. Congress, at that time, had not forgotten the immoral treatment given the WW I veterans. With suicide rates in the Army being the "fourth leading manner of death for soldiers" and the highest on record since 1990 (The Frederick News-Post, "Army Suicides Up Again", Friday, May 30, 2008) and with our economy in recession; the need for updating the G.I. Bill has, since Vietnam, never been greater.

As bad as things were for us Vietnam veterans, we enjoyed the educational legacy of WW II. I, for one, received my masters and Jurist doctorate degrees under the G.I. Bill. At the same time Cheney was getting his fifth or sixth draft exemption; because he "had better things to do"; and W's daddy got W into the National Guard where he flew F-4's for sport. W never completed his National Guard commitment because he had to campaign for some southern Republican. We all knew that during Vietnam only men with political connections or sports figures got into the National Guard or Reserves. If Bush was so gung-ho to fly F-4's in combat he could have easily volunteered for active duty in the USAF.

Fortunately more than half the Republican Senators chose to abandon the sinking Bush/Cheney Ship of State, and joined the Democrats in passing the educational benefits. Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam war hero and originally my sentimental choice for President, is opposed to the Bill and decided not to show up for the vote. By opposing the Bill "McCain went against virtually every veterans organization." (Washington Post, "Senate Passes $165 Billion Measure to Pay for Wars", Friday, May 23, 2008).

"The White House (of course is still) opposed (to) the expanded G.I. Bill, concerned that the price tag is too high and that the generous benefits could entice service members to leave the overburden military rather than reenlist." (Washington Post, Id.). The White House must know that over the years the price of the G.I. Bill has been returned many fold through the taxes paid by the more highly educated veterans. For an Administration that takes every public relations opportunity to praise our service members, its opposition to the G.I. Bill once again proves that our service members are mere cannon fodder as far as they are concerned.

Harry T. deMoll is a Vietnam veteran and City of Frederick, Maryland attorney.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What is truly sad is that GI benefits ( health,education) are slowly being deleted year by year. Just this month - TRICARE, the military form of civillian health insurance, reduced the doctor payout by another 10%. Doctors will be less likely to take on new TIRCARE patients. This change in benefit will make it much harder for families to find off post medical care and will come at a higher cost.
The education benefits are totally messed up! The benefit can be hard to obtain and often to not cover the total cost. Military members will oten help with their college GI funding by donating a small % of their pay, only to see that the amount needed to go to school full-time vs. the amount granted to them, fall short of the costs.
Andrew spoke with Congressmen Bartlett about the Webb GI bill and Bartlett was very non-plus about the idea.
Service in the military doen not make a good congressperson but it does not hurt either!