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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Military Suspends Tuition Assistance for Military Members

Update March 20, 2013: The Senate passed an amendment to the Defense Continuing Resolution, H.R. 933, that reinstates the military Tuition Assistance (TA) under sequestration. The amendment, S. Amdt. 72, was introduced by Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Kay Hagan (D-NC). Inhofe said in a statement, "This is an earned benefit that not only assists in recruiting and retention efforts for our all-volunteer force, but it also improves the lives of our men and women as they seek leadership opportunities within the military."
Bill Smith, Editor: Active duty military are not paid enough or even a reasonable equivalent portion of what their civilian counterparts are paid both in and out of the service.  In lieu of pay, the troops are offered other enticements.  One of these promises by recruiters and by their superiors is as the opportunity becomes available to attend evening and weekend college courses either on their installations or at nearby colleges, they will have access to receiving  tuition assistance.  This is supposed to be one of their so called "benefits."

Now, we learn that this benefit is being reneged on under the guise of sequestration. As with past wars and conflicts that come to an end, what is really happening, regardless of what you read below, is that the  military is moving into the "draw-down discourage them and squeeze them out Modus operandi. And to be honest, having served a career in the military and having seen our civilian leadership do this and other actions before, it makes me po'd. The following is being shared for educational purposes under the "Fair Use Doctrine" to evidence decisions being made with regard to sequestration.

by Richard Sisk and Michael Hoffman, The Air Force announced the suspension of new enrollments for tuition assistance today, joining the Army, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard in cutting the popular programs for continuing education because of the budget cuts imposed by the Congressional sequestration process.

The Air Force suspension of new enrollments started at 5 p.m. Monday, but Air Force officials waited until Tuesday to announce the suspension. Those airmen enrolled in courses may complete them, "but they will be barred from tuition assistance for future courses" until the suspension ends, Lt. Col. Laurel Tingley said in the statement.

Tingley said that currently 104,000 airmen use tuition assistance at an annual cost of about $128 million.

The Air Force is the latest service to suspend tuition assistance. The Marine Corps was the first followed by the Army then the Coast Guard.

The Army currently has 201,000 personnel receiving tuition assistance at an annual cost of $373 million, and the Marines have 29,000 enrolled at an annual cost of $47 million.

The Navy is the only service not to suspend tuition assistance for their sailors although Navy officials are reviewing the program, said George Little, the Pentagon spokesman. Those inside the Pentagon expect the service to announce action soon that would suspend or limit new enrollments for tuition assistance.

Unlike the other services, Navy leaders have considered only limiting enrollments rather than suspending tuition assistance completely.

The suspensions for the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will extend until the end of this fiscal year, which ends on Oct. 1. Pentagon leaders have made no decisions about whether the suspensions will continue into next fiscal year.

"We're still dealing with fiscal [2013] and no decisions have been made with fiscal [2014]," Little said. He explained that service leaders for each one of the services are reviewing the future of the program. The services decide the fate of the tuition assistance programs, not the Secretary of Defense, Little pointed out.

"None of us like to make tough choices with respect to tuition assistance. We're here because of sequestration. The tuition assistance program is important to our department and our service members," he said. "These are tough choices for the services."

He laid responsibility for the suspension of tuition assistance upon Congress.  "Let me be clear, we are here because sequestration on tuition assistance," he said. "If sequestration were averted we might be facing a different set of choices."

When Little was asked if he could predict the future of the tuition assistance program, he said he couldn't. "I don't know, we are in a period of terrible budget uncertainty. This is one of many programs that we are going to have to look at," Little said.

Military officials have encouraged service members to use their GI Bill benefits to continue their educations while still on active duty. [Full Story]

Reflection on the above article: The authors of the above article stated that "He [Gen. Little] laid the responsibility for the suspension of tuition assistance upon Congress." This statement appears editorially biased and is therefore questionable. The authors did not directly quote by the General.

Also, sequestration did not require any one program to absorb the full impact of sequestration and the General and others DOD leaders know this.

But most of all, "sequestration" was not the idea of Congress but was developed by President Obama and his White House staff. The leaders of the House of Representative Congress have offered options for relief for the military, however, President Obama and his staff have rejected this option and thus so has the leadership of the Senate. In-other-words, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, is responsible for this and other cuts to the military.

Former Chief of DoD Voluntary Education,Gary woods in an op-ed addresses the cut in tuition assistance and describes how in 2002, “The New Social Compact: a Reciprocal Partnership between the Department of Defense, Service members, and Their Families,” and then a follow-on version in 2004, known as the “Modernized Social Compact,” made it clear that DoD was committed to tuition assistance and other support programs.  Woods also points out that the $600 million is a drop in the DoD bucket, yet provides far more return in readiness and morale, not to mention helping prepare service members for their inevitable transition back to the civilian work force.

Tags: military, troops, airmen, sailors, military benefit, tuition assistance, education, college, training To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 6:33 PM - Post Link


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