fresh voices from the front lines of change







The next time your Republican representative says they support the troops, laugh and call them a liar because they obviously don’t care enough to make sure the men and women in the military will be able to afford college.

Due to the sequester many branches of the military have cut the tuition assistance program that helps thousands of troops pay for higher education. As I've said before, there need to be serious cuts to the Pentagon’s budget, but they should never come from programs that help our troops better support themselves and their families.

A friend of mine in the U.S. Marine Corps recently texted me a meme that said, “Congress gets a raise and sequestration hits our tuition assistance, F*** us right?” This sentiment is understandable, as this will be far-reaching and could affect as many as 300,000 enlisted members while only saving $600 million. This will put the squeeze on a lot of military personnel who are attending college, especially when the average in-state cost for public school is nearing $20,000 per year. With a large number of troops making under $30,000 a year a sudden loss of tuition assistance will put a greater burden on students.

This is not a good thing for enlisted members of the military or our country. Weighing troops and veterans down with extra debt further disadvantages a group that is already at increased risk for homelessness and unemployment. Increasing the financial strain on soldiers and their families shows what the right’s sequester and cuts not growth agenda is all about: forcing austerity on vulnerable groups and public servants, while protecting the payouts to corporations and the 1% — who in this case happen to be military contractors.

The best way to fix the issue is to repeal the sequester. If you want to support our troops against harmful cuts, tell your member of Congress to vote for H.R.900 to repeal the sequester.

If the sequester is not repealed, there are much better places to make cuts, without harming military employees who are most vulnerable to austerity, while still cutting down on wasteful spending that supports the military-industrial complex. Those cuts could start with programs like the parasitic F-35 program. Cutting the F-35 could save $46 billion this fiscal year. This cut alone could spare troops from major cuts to their tuition assistance.

If you’re a big fan of the Air Force there’s still plenty of other places to cut. For example, the Stimson Center has shown that upkeep of our military arsenal costs $31 billion per year. There is also a $10 billion dollar project to modernize the B61 gravity bombs. Cutting the tactical submarine fleet down to 40 (it would still be the one of largest in the world) by 2020 would save $32 billion over 10 years. Cutting any of these projects would ensure corporations that profit from this wasteful spending bear the brunt of the cuts, and not the troops.

So why hasn’t the right agreed to cuts that would allow us to really support the troops? Because that would mean that Lockheed Martin and others would lose some profitable corporate handouts and the right would lose some political donations.So why actually support the troops when you can support the multi-billion dollar corporations that donate to your campaign? The cuts hitting the troops the hardest and mainstream GOP refusal to reevaluate the sequester shows that the Republicans don’t care who the cuts hurt as long as it’s not their corporate friends.

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