Jan 222012
Authors: Chance Johnson

Of all the cheap ways for the government to save a buck: starting this semester, military tuition assistance has been reduced from 100 percent to 50 percent. What should make you even more enraged is that unless you are a veteran, this is likely the first time you’ve read this.

Let’s just imagine that welfare was cut by as little as five percent. Do you honestly think that this wouldn’t dominate the news? Bleeding hearts everywhere would be up in arms.

But where are they now?

For the past several months, everyone has been so distracted by the clowns involved with Occupy Wall Street that this has totally slipped under the radar. The self-entitled brats demonstrating at OWS were so wrapped up in themselves that they missed the opportunity to protest an actual occurrence of misplaced entitlements.

This reduction in tuition assistance could not have come at a worse time. The announcement of the reduction came in June, and troop withdrawal from Iraq began in December. What does this say to our brave men and women who are returning home, battle-hardened and wanting to move on with their lives?

I think it says, “Welcome home boys! You’ve known nothing but war since you were 18 years old, and now that you’re finally home, we’re gonna stiff you on tuition assistance! Good luck getting your lives back together!”

Then there are people like me. I joined the military because it was my only option to continue my education. I slacked off in high school because I did not see the long-term importance of a higher education. Once I got out into the real world, I realized the error of my ways and enlisted in the Air Force National Guard to take advantage of the benefits of tuition assistance.

I pride myself on my ability to avoid debt. With the reduction of tuition assistance put into place, I now have to put myself in debt with federal aid. Luckily, there are foundations available that offer scholarships to help supplement tuition assistance to pick up the slack where the government has let us down.

I did an extensive search to find out if this was a state-by-state implementation, or if it was on a national scale. I could not find a single thing reporting reductions in Colorado. Heading over to military.com, I learned that these are national cuts, enforced by the Department of Defense and directed by Congress.

This took me by surprise. Our newly elected House, consisting of a Republican majority, hinged their campaigns in 2010 on reducing government spending. I certainly didn’t expect that these spending cuts included taking away from those who deserve government assistance more than anyone.

Frankly, I am all for spending cuts in government, lowering taxes and thus reducing the national debt. But why can’t we look elsewhere for places to save? The answer seems clear. Politicians are politicians, and when it really comes down to it, they are all the same. I guess these newly elected Republicans realize that traditionally military personnel vote in their favor anyway. It would not be politically strategic to take government assistance away from potential voters.

Don’t let the democrats get off too easily, though. Last April, our Democrat-controlled Senate fought for the passage of a bill that allows the children of illegal immigrants to receive in-state tuition rates, so long as they have graduated from a Colorado high school.

I feel like I am living in a bizarro world that rewards those who leach off the system and take away from those who put their lives on the line to defend it. This is further proof that politicians are all the same, regardless of party identification.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my country and would die for it regardless of whether or not I received benefits or bonuses. I don’t know of a single marine, airman, soldier or sailor who would forfeit their military service for this reason. The irony of the situation is what frustrates me most of all: I am filling out FAFSA’s and applying for scholarships while some illegal immigrant somewhere is picking up his welfare check.

Chance Johnson is a senior journalism major. He can be reached at letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 2:17 pm

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