Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Jaunts in beleaguered bureaucracy

Soldiers do what they are told to do – it is what they have been trained for. They often come back home with the disastrous effects of wars fought overseas. Often, they have no say over the unfolding action seen in combat zones and in most cases they are cogs helping mesh the larger military/industrial/political wheel. The disadvantages faced by a soldier spending their prime years on a battlefield should not follow the person back home. The least a nation could do for them on coming back home is to offer them building blocks with which they could again step back and become active/productive members of society. Education contributes to a large part of this post-war-rehab. 50 years ago, after the World War, the lawmakers realized this and gave them the GI Bill.

From here: The original G.I. Bill of Rights, signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1944, paid the full load of a returning veteran’s education at a college or technical school and provided a monthly stipend. It was an investment that paid astounding dividends. Millions of veterans benefited, and they helped transform the nation. College would no longer be the exclusive preserve of the wealthy and those who crowned themselves the intellectual elite.

The original GI Bill did not take into account the galloping costs associated with college tuition and hence needed retooling. There is a new bill in Congress whose passage is being held up by the usual partisan bickering and one-upmanship of Washington politics. Latest news reports indicate a clear and present danger to this bill failing. For the war or not, it is in our common interests that this bill needs to go through. This website has details.

Disclosure: One of our family (a first cousin) is a member of the United States Army and is stationed ‘somewhere in Iraq’. He is only 23 years old.

Pavel Tchelitchew, ‘Hide and Seek’, Oil on canvas, 1940-42, MOMA

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