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Momentum Has Been Lost In Senate For 'Forever GI Bill', Advocates Say
The House unanimously passed a large expansion of veterans education benefits last week, just nine days after the legislation was introduced in that chamber. But advocates are now concerned that momentum has been lost in the Senate.
Student Veterans of America, the American Legion and other groups have been pressing Senate leadership to schedule a vote on the expanded GI Bill for the past week.
“This is a broadly supported policy that should be taking center stage, and yet Senate leadership hasn’t made it a top priority to pass,” said Will Hubbard, vice president of government affairs for Student Veterans of America.
Senate Republicans decided to delay the chamber’s August recess two weeks, pointing to a backlog of nominations.
On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said on the Senate floor that senators needed to use the work period before recess to confirm President Donald Trump’s pick for FBI director and other nominees, as well as pass an urgent funding bill for the nearly bankrupt Department of Veterans Affairs Choice Program.
But as of Tuesday morning, McConnell hadn’t announced a vote on the expanded GI Bill. Advocates with Student Veterans of America said they can’t get a clear answer on whether one will be scheduled before senators leave Washington for a recess.
Stephanie Penn, McConnell’s press secretary, responded to advocates’ concerns, saying, “Not scheduled is not the same as not on the radar.”
Student Veterans of America, which comprises chapters of student veterans at colleges nationwide, asked their 25 Kentucky chapters Monday to call McConnell’s office and request a vote before senators leave Washington for a recess.
The American Legion also sent an “action alert” to its members Tuesday, asking them to contact their senators immediately and request a vote this week.
“Thousands of veterans, survivors and their families have already waited too long to receive the education they’ve earned, and at this point, these issues are urgent,” Hubbard said. “This is a bipartisan bill that has no reason to be stalled. The Senate should take a cue from the House.”
Other advocates, including Got Your 6 and Veterans of Foreign Wars, have spread the message through social media to urge senators to vote on the bill. The conservative group Concerned Veterans for America also issued a statement Tuesday.
“The bill has passed the House unanimously and there is no reason to delay voting on it in the Senate,” CVA Policy Director Dan Caldwell said. “It is inexcusable for this measure to not pass before recess.”
VA Secretary David Shulkin also got behind the effort Tuesday. He tweeted: “I urge swift passage by the Senate before they leave on recess.”
By Tuesday morning, 60 of 100 senators, including McConnell, had signed onto the bill as co-sponsors.
The legislation boosts aid for dependents, Purple Heart recipients, technical education and members of the National Guard and Reserve. It restores benefits to veterans whose schools abruptly close and fixes a Pentagon deployment authorization that has kept about 5,000 reservists and guardsmen from accumulating education benefits.
It’s being dubbed the “Forever GI Bill” by advocates because it eliminates the 15-year limit for veterans to use their education benefits after leaving military service. That provision applies to veterans whose last discharge or release from active duty came on or before Jan. 1, 2013.
Altogether, it combines 18 bills and is expected to increase GI Bill costs by $3 billion in 10 years. To offset costs, the legislation calls for reducing the annual growth of GI Bill recipients’ living stipends to fall in line with active-duty servicemembers’ basic housing allowance. The decrease would not apply to people now using the GI Bill.
©2017 the Stars and Stripes. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
A Minnesota Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter with three Guardsmen aboard crashed south of St. Cloud on Thursday, said National Guard spokeswoman Army Master Sgt. Blair Heusdens.
At this time, the National Guard is not releasing any information about the status of the three people aboard the helicopter, Heusdens told Task & Purpose on Thursday.
The Pentagon's latest attempt to twist itself in knots to deny that it is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East has a big caveat.
Pentagon spokeswoman Alyssa Farah said there are no plans to send that many troops to the region "at this time."
Farah's statement does not rule out the possibility that the Defense Department could initially announce a smaller deployment to the region and subsequently announce that more troops are headed downrange.
The Navy could deploy a second carrier to the Middle East if Trump orders an Iran surge, top admiral says
The Navy could send a second aircraft carrier to the Middle East if President Donald Trump orders a surge of forces to the region, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday said on Thursday.
Gordon Lubold and Nancy Youssef of the Wall Street Journal first reported the United States is considering sending up to 14,000 troops to the Middle East to deter Iran from attacking U.S. forces and regional allies. The surge forces could include several ships.
I didn't think a movie about World War I would, or even could, remind me of Afghanistan.
Somehow 1917 did, and that's probably the highest praise I can give Sam Mendes' newest war drama: It took a century-old conflict and made it relatable.
An internal investigation spurred by a nude photo scandal shows just how deep sexism runs in the Marine Corps
"I will still have to work harder to get the perception away from peers and seniors that women can't do the job."
Some years ago, a 20-year-old female Marine, a military police officer, was working at a guard shack screening service members and civilians before they entered the base. As a lance corporal, she was new to the job and the duty station, her first in the Marine Corps.
At some point during her shift, a male sergeant on duty drove up. Get in the car, he said, the platoon sergeant needs to see you. She opened the door and got in, believing she was headed to see the enlisted supervisor of her platoon.
Instead, the sergeant drove her to a dark, wooded area on base. It was deserted, no other Marines were around. "Hey, I want a blowjob," the sergeant told her.
"What am I supposed, what do you do as a lance corporal?" she would later recall. "I'm 20 years old ... I'm new at this. You're the only leadership I've ever known, and this is what happens."
She looked at him, then got out of the car and walked away. The sergeant drove up next to her and tried to play it off as a prank. "I'm just fucking with you," he said. "It's not a big deal."
It was one story among hundreds of others shared by Marines for a study initiated in July 2017 by the Marine Corps Center for Advanced Operational Culture Learning (CAOCL). Finalized in March 2018, the center's report was quietly published to its website in September 2019 with little fanfare.
The culture of the Marine Corps is ripe for analysis. A 2015 Rand Corporation study found that women felt far more isolated among men in the Corps, while the Pentagon's Office of People Analytics noted in 2018 that female Marines rated hostility toward them as "significantly higher" than their male counterparts.
But the center's report, Marines' Perspectives on Various Aspects of Marine Corps Organizational Culture, offers a proverbial wakeup call to leaders, particularly when paired alongside previous studies, since it was commissioned by the Marine Corps itself in the wake of a nude photo sharing scandal that rocked the service in 2017.
The scandal, researchers found, was merely a symptom of a much larger problem.