Saturday, July 12, 2008
Education! F&*% Yeah!
I know it's a little late. We've had awesome educational benefits for almost a full week, and no post! I'd love to tell you that I was drinking away the celebratory time, but truth be told, I was just busy doing work. And promoting this exciting opportunity.
The Webb GI Bill, that thing everyone said would never make it, has been passed.
What does that mean? That means that even soldiers with families, who were trying to figure out how they could go to school and still have a place to live without getting a full-time job, can afford to better themselves and move up in the world.
This bill means a lot to me. I first found out about this bill before I was an IVAW member, when I was first having the stirrings of political thought as a member o the Armed Forces. I had worked for a Senator's campaign, in a private capacity, and gone to the parties afterwards. I even got into Clinton's bash by the expedient of standing at the door and asking the aide if Senator Clinton didn't have any space at her party for a soldier from New York recently returned from overseas. (Yes, I'm a bastard).
But after that, while in the area, I decided to visit all the Senators I could and talk to them about what was important to me-the paucity of the Montgomery GI Bill.
I have to say that the staffers were very polite to me. I made it past the greeters each and every time. I even met and shook hands with McCain, believing at the time that he was a principled veteran who would stand up for our rights. Then I got the word from one senator's office that they and Senator Webb were cooking up something that would "make me very happy". I headed on over to see Webb, who was taking his congratulations in an incredibly pressed room. I shook his hand as well, talked a bit about my military service, and asked what he had going on. The man said it'd be out in a few weeks, and to get with his staffer and she would call me.
Lo and behold, I got a nice call when the plan got unveiled. And I was excited. At last somebody had put together a GI Bill with teeth. But I was also mystified-why weren't more senators signing onto it? Why was everyone talking about it like a pipe dream?
For nearly two years, this battle was fought. For quite some time everyone dismissed it, and it was said it would never happen.
Then the veterans got involved.
IAVA, and VFW, and AUSA, and IVAW, and VoteVets, and pretty much every veteran's organization out there got involved and started rallying their people to get involved. I made calls and visits. Others made calls and visits, and sent letters. For those who say that soldiers and veterans don't have political opinions, it is important to remember that it is servicemembers and veterans who helped turn the tide and get this bill made into law.
Your opinions, your thoughts, your feelings, ARE important. And you need to flex those long-unused muscles. Don't just stop there-let your voice be heard in other matters. There are still veteran's issues that need help. We still have veterans being foisted off with shoddy healthcare. We still have not enough review for PTSD cases. We still have atrocious medical care even for servicemembers.
Let's work, people. Let's work, and let's take initiative, and let's bring about the world we want to see.
The passing of the Webb GI Bill is proof that we can do it.