Yesterday, I was in Raleigh, N.C. representing IAVA on behalf of its 425,000 members at U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis’ (R-NC) office. I asked for his help to defend the Post-9/11 GI Bill from proposed cuts. This first swing at the GI Bill involves cutting the housing allowance benefit for children who will receive the transferred benefit from their parents. Proponents of this effort argue that it does not directly affect service members. However, as I told the Senator’s staff — anything that reduces an EARNED and PROMISED benefit to our families directly affects those of us who stepped forward when our nation asked us to.
I am one of the older vets of this current war, and a product of the GI Bill. Both of my children serve, and could be a part of the very same conflict. As a former enlisted soldier, I used a less generous predecessor to the Post-9/11 GI Bill to earn my BS in Nursing from the University of Arizona. My son, Nick, is due to graduate from NC State in three weeks and will receive his commission as a Second Lieutenant. My daughter, Heather, is currently finishing her second year at West Point. They are like many other military children: following their father’s path into service to their country. Like many other military parents, I transferred my remaining Post-9/11 GI Bill to my children. Now, I find out that moving forward, this promised benefit, earned through sacrifice, may be cut for other families.
Sure, we are a volunteer force and we willingly accept this sacrifice, but how can we put a cost on that time? The very least our country can do to acknowledge the contributions our military families make is to keep the promises that were made to us. Promises that were used to bolster retention and recruitment during a time of war. Promises that, in the end, are an investment in our country. Breaking this promise to one is breaking this promise to all — they are one in the same.
This is a symptom of how Congress is out of step with us. We must have more veterans in the halls of Congress and in the Administration. No one understands the issue of selfless service better than us, AND our families.
Combat veterans cannot be passive when our educational benefits are on the line. I hope Senator Tillis heard my voice and stands with North Carolina’s vets.
I challenge each of you to continue your service to each other and our families by making your voice heard. Contact your Members of Congress today to ask them to pledge not to break this promise to our nation’s veterans and their families! Take action here.