For thousands of soldiers, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides substantial benefits for disability, health care and education. This is the case for some with interest in the newly approved Post-9/11 GI Bill. However, it should be noted there are numerous fine-printed caveats that should be as highly advertised.
The most notable of these being that any soldier who has had the Student Loan Repayment program or any student loan funding built into his/her contract — whether it was used or not — is not eligible for any Post-9/11 GI Bill assistance [during the three-year loan repayment program obligation]. Hence, a person like myself who used $3,000 of loan payoff cannot in any way further educate myself using the highly touted and "better" program. Perhaps VA representatives should have fought a bit more during the bill negotiations.
Additionally, the bill is heavily biased toward career and active-duty soldiers. What about the tens of thousands of reservists and guardsmen who serve overseas? Many such soldiers — who experience the same physical, mental and emotional pains while deployed — get only 60 percent tuition; hence, they have to make up the rest of the tuition out of pocket (or by taking a loan such as Fannie Mae that President Barack Obama has agreed to back with unlimited resources). Why not back your returning reservists and National Guard soldiers with unlimited financial assistance? After all, most have served at least a year and a half of their lives in a war zone.
So please, the next time a recruiter, politician or liberal tells you how well veterans are treated, do not believe it. While it is sometimes true; a person should always do some background research before forming an opinion.
Spc. Matthew A. ColicignoBaghdad