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Sen Tim Kaine Wants To Protect Gold Star Children From Education Cuts
After 16 years of war, the young children who lost a parent to combat in Iraq or Afghanistan are starting come of age and deal with new challenges, but one obstacle that Gold Star dependents should not have to face is the struggle to pay for education.
“As more of our post-9/11 Gold Star children are starting to reach college age, now is the right time to improve the grant system,” Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine told Task & Purpose. “Keeping our promise to protect Gold Star families is the right thing to do and we can’t expect to sustain a strong all volunteer force without the public knowing that we will take care of their families if they decide to serve."
He and fellow Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana introduced a bill that’s intended to shield children who lost a parent to military service from cuts to the federal education budget.
Called the “Protect Our Gold Star Families’ Education Act,” the bill — which was introduced May 16 — would expand the federal Pell Grant program to include the children and dependents of service members killed in action after Sept. 11, 2001 to offset their educational expenses.
“The Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grants program is an amazing initiative that provides educational assistance to dependents whose parent or guardian were killed in action in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001,” Kaine told Task & Purpose. “Unfortunately, these grants aren’t protected from sequestration, and they were cut by approximately $400 per student for 2015 and 2016.”
Currently, Gold Star children are eligible for federal student aid for postsecondary education through the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant, which is meant to match the maximum Pell Grant award. However, the Department of Education sent a letter in May 2016 to institutions requiring them to reduce the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant awards by about 7% for the 2016-2017 award year, which is roughly $400 less than the maximum Pell Grant level.
“We appreciate the protections that will be afforded to Gold Star children with the introduction of this bill,” Kathy Moakler, the external relations and policy analysis director for the Gold Star family organization Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors told Task & Purpose. “We’re very glad that this issue is being addressed.”
Kaine and Tester want to move the Iraq and Afghanistan Service Grant under the Pell Grant umbrella, which would exempt it from the 2011 Budget Control Act cuts, more commonly referred to as “sequestration.” Such a move, Kaine said, “will stabilize the funding and ensure these dependents receive the maximum amount of assistance possible."
He added, “There is no excuse for shortchanging families who have sacrificed so much for our country."
‘I made promises to the people that I lost’— How the Iraq war forged a Navy SEAL’s path to Harvard Medical School and NASA
Navy Lt. Jonny Kim went viral last week when NASA announced that he and 10 other candidates (including six other service members) became the newest members of the agency's hallowed astronaut corps. A decorated Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School, Kim in particular seems to have a penchant for achieving people's childhood dreams.
However, Kim shared with Task & Purpose that his motivation for living life the way he has stems not so much from starry-eyed ambition, but from the pain and loss he suffered both on the battlefields of Iraq and from childhood instability while growing up in Los Angeles. Kim tells his story in the following Q&A, which was lightly edited for length and clarity:
You can almost smell the gunpowder in the scene captured by a Marine photographer over the weekend, showing a Marine grunt firing a shotgun during non-lethal weapons training.
A Marine grunt stationed in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina is being considered for an award after he saved the lives of three people earlier this month from a fiery car crash.
Cpl. Scott McDonell, an infantry assaultman with 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, was driving down Market Street in Wilmington in the early morning hours of Jan. 11 when he saw a car on fire after it had crashed into a tree. Inside were three victims aged 17, 20, and 20.
"It was a pretty mangled wreck," McDonell told ABC 15. "The passenger was hanging out of the window."
New Vietnam War movie 'The Last Full Measure' takes some well-deserved shots at the military’s award process
Todd Robinson's upcoming Vietnam War drama, The Last Full Measure, is a story of two battles: One takes place during an ambush in the jungles of Vietnam in 1966, while the other unfolds more than three decades later as the survivors fight to see one pararescueman's valor posthumously recognized.
With ISIS trying to reorganize itself into an insurgency, most attacks on U.S. and allied forces in Iraq are being carried out by Shiite militias, said Air Force Maj. Gen. Alex Grynkewich, the deputy commander for operations and intelligence for U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria.
"In the time that I have been in Iraq, we've taken a couple of casualties from ISIS fighting on the ground, but most of the attacks have come from those Shia militia groups, who are launching rockets at our bases and frankly just trying to kill someone to make a point," Grynkewich said Wednesday at an event hosted by the Air Force Association's Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.