My position as CEO of To The Fallen Records requires me to be nonpartisan because our primary purpose is to support music artists within the military, but this is an issue that transcends politics and I feel compelled to speak out on behalf of my fellow service members.
The new GI Bill is a great opportunity for the American public and Congress to reward and encourage service to one's country. To not do so is to undermine and devalue the service of every single service member who has ever served.
If you do not support the new GI Bill you are wrong.
I don't care what your reason is, it is not good enough. I don't care if you think we can't pay for it, it's your job to figure it out and society would benefit from it greatly. I don't care if you think retention would go down in the military, because you are dead wrong (it will definitely increase recruiting, just like if you increased pay). If you oppose giving service members more benefits, more pay, more education, more anything...then you need to wake up because it sends a terrible message to our soldiers, our citizens and the rest of the world about how we value service to our country.
Since its beginning, the military has not had any lobby group fighting for "workers' rights". It has no labor unions. It only has Congress. Congress is supposed to be the military's voice and make sure it is treated fairly and given its just due.
For too long there have been far too many citizens who have raised their hand and volunteered to serve a greater good. They are severely underpaid. They are severely underequipped, undertrained, underappreciated and undermanned and yet they don't say shit. They go about their duty to the country and drive on. The military just doesn't speak out. It is ingrained in our nature to drive on even when conditions are miserable, i.e. in World War II, Vietnam, Korea, etc. It is ingrained in our nature to never quit and to work with what we have to complete the mission.
We depend on Congress to be our union, to fight for us, to set the standard for the rest of the country as to how we are perceived, how we are respected within society, and how we are valued.
Honestly, how valued is military service? How many members of Congress are raising their children to serve their country in the military? Which option would you choose for your child? To be a doctor, lawyer, accountant, businesswoman, teacher, pharmacist, policeman, etc....or would you want them to be a soldier or an officer in the United States Army or the United States Marine Corps?
I thought so.
The value of service to one's country is obviously not enough because this funding of the new GI Bill would not even be an issue. It makes me very bitter that Congress devalues our service members and yet pays themselves over $100,000 a year. I wish the military could set its own pay scale and benefits package!
Also, do we really want to lower standards and devalue the quality of our military? With this new GI Bill, or any increase in pay and benefits, we will increase the quality of soldier and officer in each branch of the service. In our society, people follow the money. For examples, see the quality of teachers and/or doctors whose salaries are extremely low. Do we want our greatest diplomats to be undereducated and of a lower quality? US troops are most often the first Americans foreigners meet. We need to set our standards higher and bring in the best educated soldiers and officers.
The Congress sets the standard for the rest of the country. How Congress lobbies for us and values us trickles down to the rest of the population. Let's increase the quality of the military. Let's offer these veterans who have fought for the country a GI Bill that will actually pay for current tuition rates. If you would honestly stand there and say they don't deserve it, no matter what your reason is, this is how it will be interpreted by service members across the board.
Congress had the opportunity to reward service to our country and the service members who have served since 9/11 and they said no.
Congress had the opportunity to increase recruiting and retention by sending a loud and clear message that service to the country is a valued commodity and they decided against it.
Congress had the opportunity to put their money where their mouth is and support the troops which is a phrase they throw around when it's convenient to them and they chose to go back on their word.
If Congress does not push forward the 2008 GI Bill then they will have failed the American service member and devalued service to this country, which in turn, will hurt the American military strength and quality in the long term.
Thank you for taking the time to read and please visit the 2008 GI Bill Website to see if your senator or congressman/congresswoman is supporting the bill. There are tools on the site for you to reach out to them and tell them how important it is to our military and the people who volunteer to serve the country that they support this bill.