Recent administration woes in getting checks out to the Veterans it is covering under the new GI Bill raises an important question, put rather well in a recent letter to the editor of the Washington Post. In it, Mr. David Robinson of Alexandria (I do not believe we are hearing from the former Naval Academy grad and NBA superstar) reminds those of us who don't follow veterans affairs that the recent Jim Webb-sponsored "update" to the GI Bill is a seriously generous bump--including the provision that servicemembers spouses or children can--under certain circumstances--take advantage of the benefit.
I have mixed feelings on this one. I am absolutely certain that our system of veterans benefits is out of whack--and I am a recipient of those benefits. For instance, because the Navy paid for my college tuition--I was never eligible for the "old" GI Bill. But now that I've retired, and because I served during the Global War on Terrorism--I am eligible for a whole series of fat benefits should I choose to go to law school or med school or an MBA or what have you.
But I also understand--and support--extending benefits to a spouse (not kids). Here's why. I saw lots and lots of guys leave the Navy over the years because their wives wanted them to leave. Not because of the time away from home, but because staying in the Navy hurt her career (moving about). I always thought one way we might retain some of these guys would be to allow their GI Bill benefit to pass to their spouse--so that if she had to leave a job to follow him to a new job--she could at least pick up a degree for her troubles.
I would have been happy if they simply took the old GI bill and said that the benefit could extend to a spouse. Bringing in a whole bunch of new people (like me) into the system was simply one more way that the Democratic Party could show faux support for the military by extending yet another social benefit.