This not only costs veterans money they can't afford to spend, it could cost them (and their families) their future:
The GI Bill last year quit paying the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition for veterans attending public colleges and universities. The veterans were told to pay the difference.
That's an extra $19,826 per year (UNC-CH) out of some pretty shallow pockets. In other words, they either won't be able to attend, or they'll have to take on crushing debt to do so. If the General Assembly fails to act, it's the same thing as saying "Your service and sacrifice mean nothing to us." And while we're on the subject of sacrifice:
The suicide rate among the nation’s active-duty military personnel has spiked this year, eclipsing the number of troops dying in battle and on pace to set a record annual high since the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan more than a decade ago, the Pentagon said Friday.
Paul Rieckhoff, executive director of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, called suicides among active-duty military personnel “the tip of the iceberg.” He cited a survey the group conducted this year among its 160,000 members that found that 37 percent knew someone who had committed suicide.
Mr. Rieckhoff attributed the rise in military suicides to too few qualified mental health professionals, aggravated by the stigma of receiving counseling and further compounded by family stresses and financial problems. The unemployment rate among military families is a particular problem, he said.
“They are thinking about combat, yeah, but they are also thinking about their wives and kids back home,” he said.
No doubt this change in the GI Bill has been an added punch in the gut for our troops who are trying to envision a future after the bullets stop flying.
The Legislature has not just an opportunity, but a responsibility to give them something positive to look forward to.
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