How to Really Support the Troops
Thursday, May 01, 2008 | Author: Mad Typist
Another day, another chance for me to remember why I just love Jimmy Webb. His G.I. Bill is causing a bit of a stir in the Senate. And surprise, surprise... guess who isn't rushing to support this? That's right. John McCain.

From Annapolis to Vietnam and back to the Pentagon, John McCain and Jim Webb trod the same paths before coming to the Senate. Iraq divides them today, but there’s also the new kinship of being anxious fathers watching their sons come and go with Marine units in the war.

So what does it say about Washington that two such men, with so much in common, are locked in an increasingly intense debate over a shared value: education benefits for veterans?

“It’s very odd,” said former Nebraska Democratic Sen. Bob Kerrey, a mutual friend. And that oddness gets greater by the day as the two headstrong senators barrel down colliding tracks.

An Arizona Republican, McCain has all but locked up the Republican presidential nomination and is preparing for a fall campaign in which his support of the Iraq war is sure to be a major issue. Yet the former Navy pilot and Vietnam POW makes himself a target by refusing to endorse Webb’s new GI education bill and instead signing on to a Republican alternative that focuses more on career soldiers than on the great majority who leave after their first four years.

I like how later in the article McCain complains that he hasn't had enough time to review the bill. This sort of points out one of the major flaws in the Presidential race - these people are still allegedly active Senators, but can't seem to find time to do their real jobs, while campaigning for their desired one.

In any case, SecDef Gates complains that the bill is open to all who have served at least a 4 year term, while he wants one that has a sliding scale based on time in service. But I agree with Webb - those who serve should be rewarded, not trapped into staying in. And don't forget, we're already trapping a lot of troops into longer tours than they signed up for, thanks to the little known policy of Stop-Loss. So, the least we can do is say, "Look, if you sign up, there's a good chance we'll screw you and make you stay longer than you think. But we promise to at least pay for your college."
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