Don’t Compare Obama’s Free Community College Plan To The GI Bill

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez

President Barack Obama has unveiled — and reinforced through his 2015 State of the Union speech — a multi-billion-dollar plan to make the first two years of community college free for every American. It’s an ambitious proposal, and it understandably is creating a lot of debate about education policy and government programs.

But in the course that debate, something unhealthy is happening — people are comparing Obama’s initiative to the G.I. Bill — the government program first established after World War II and recently revamped for the post-9/11 era — to the president’s initiative.

A piece in the Atlantic countered Republican opposition to federalize education by contending that it was “an odd complaint in a system that has long supported such programs, from the GI Bill to Pell Grants.”

Writing for the The Dallas Morning News, Jim Mitchell said it could be “the best investment since the G.I. Bill,” referencing the one passed after World War II, as if there wasn’t a new G.I. Bill presently serving as an enormous investment in the future.

Jonathan Alter, a columnist for the Daily Beast and MSNBC analyst even wrote a piece for the Daily Beast called “The Free Community College Plan is Obama’s G.I. Bill.”

It’s not at all the same thing.

To be clear, I’m personally not principally opposed to the president’s idea. The current cost of tuition in this country is among the highest in the world, and it’s a direct impediment to economic mobility. Something needs to be done, and making two years of community college free would be a huge game changer.

But it’s nothing like the G.I. Bill. Not all government programs are created equal, and the G.I. Bill is a benefit, not an entitlement.

The ability to obtain a free college education factors heavily in the decision to join for many military members. People literally risk their lives to get it. And you have to earn it. Merely joining the military doesn’t cut it. In order to get the full benefits of the G.I. Bill, a service member has to be in for at least three years, and separate from the service under honorable conditions. And if you want to transfer your benefit to your spouse or children, you have to commit to serve even more time in the military.

The G.I. Bill isn’t given, it’s earned. It’s not a free government program, it’s compensation to the all-volunteer members of the finest military force in the world, who readily and willingly committed themselves to serving their nation. It enables those Americans to transition back to their communities and affords them the ability to get a degree without the added burden of financing an education, which was part of the deal when they signed up. One in four young Americans is ineligible to join the military, so the ones who are eligible and do so represent the best of a generation.

In conflating the best-earned benefit modern veterans have to a politicized initiative to hand college out for free, leaders and thinkers will risk diminishing the success of transitioning student veterans, who enter the workforce with new degrees as the result of a ton of hard work rivaled only by remarkable individual experiences.

Whatever happens with needed and necessary efforts to ease the means of ascent up the economic ladder and reform the systems of higher education in this country, it doesn’t need to be leveraged and negotiated through comparisons and equivalences to veterans who aren’t there.

Benjamin Franklin nailed it when he said, "Fatigue is the best pillow." True story, Benny. There's nothing like pushing your body so far past exhaustion that you'd willingly, even longingly, take a nap on a concrete slab.

Take $75 off a Casper Mattress and $150 off a Wave Mattress with code TASKANDPURPOSE

And no one knows that better than military service members and we have the pictures to prove it.

Read More Show Less
Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested on Jan. 29, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Wilmington Police Department, North Carolina.)

A special operations Marine is due in court on March 7 after being arrested last year for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, Task & Purpose has learned.

Staff Sgt. Daniel Christopher Evans was arrested and charged with assault inflicting serious injury on July 29, 2018, according to Jennifer Dandron, a spokeswoman for police in Wilmington, North Carolina. Evans is currently assigned as a Critical Skills Operator with the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, according to the Marine Corps Personnel Locator.

Read More Show Less
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Elyse Ping Medvigy conducts a call-for-fire during an artillery shoot south of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, Aug. 22, 2014. Medvigy, a fire support officer assigned to the 4th Infantry Division's Company D, 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, is the first female company fire support officer to serve in an infantry brigade combat team supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston (Photo by U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney Houston)

Following Trump's inauguration, some supporters of ground combat integration assumed he would quickly move to reinstate a ban on women in jobs like the infantry. When this did not happen, advocates breathed a collective sigh of relief, and hundreds of qualified women charted a course in history by entering the newly opened occupational fields.

So earlier this week when the Wall Street Journal published an editorial against women in ground combat by conservative political commentator Heather Mac Donald, the inclination of many ground combat integration supporters was to dismiss it outright. But given Trump's proclivity to make knee jerk policy decisions in response to falling approval ratings and the court's tradition of deference to the military when it comes to policies affecting good order and discipline, it would be unwise to assume the 2016 lifting of the ban on women in ground combat is a done deal.

Read More Show Less

R. Lee Ermey was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday.

Best known for his iconic role as the Marine Corps drill instructor Gunnery Sgt. Hartman in the war drama Full Metal Jacket, Ermey died April 15, 2018 at age 74 due to complications from pneumonia, Task & Purpose previously reported.

Read More Show Less
A B-2 Spirit bomber deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, and F-22 Raptors from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing fly near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, during a interoperability training mission Jan. 15, 2019. (U.S. Air Force/Master Sgt. Russ Scalf)

The U.S. Air Force has two of its most elite aircraft — the B-2 Spirit bomber and the F-22 Raptor — training together in the Pacific, reassuring America's allies and sending a warning to strategic competitors and adversaries about the sheer power the U.S. brings to the table.

These stunning photos show the powerful aircraft tearing across the Pacific, where the U.S. has increasingly found itself facing challenges from a rising China.

Read More Show Less