We were recently "tagged" in a Facebook note by our friend and Marine veteran, Mark Patterson (subscription required). Mark called our attention to a paper recently released by the National Veterans Foundation. The NVF's paper highlights veteran's poor education and health benefits.
Patterson writes, "Why is it that our country can find money to bail out banks who gave irresponsible loans but it can't find the money to provide veterans with a fair education benefit?"
We would add, "why is it that our country can find money to bail out foolish borrowers?" It wasn't just banks at fault.
McCain has called for an increase in defense spending from 4% of GDP to 4.5 or 5%. We hope, and McCain has seemed to indicate, that some of this would go to better healthcare treatment for veterans and, we hope, increased education spending.
Patterson first calls increased veteran education benefits "welfare," saying, "while I oppose welfare in principle, I feel that providing a worthwhile GI Bill ... is an incredible investment for our nation." We too oppose welfare in general, but we don't call education spending for veterans welfare, we call it a smart investment in American human capital, as Patterson later labels it.
As it stands, the military attracts intelligent and capable Americans who forego higher pay in other industries because of a patriotic desire to serve. They, along with the less fortunate who rightly see military service as a way to improve their lives, comprise the best armed forces the world has ever seen.
We suspect there are many who, because of family and other concerns, decide not to join up. Perhaps if we took better care of our troops--increasing pay, bettering health care and education benefits--more people would make the decision to serve.
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