Bulletin: GI tuition assistance lives

In March, this FU message greeted Army  students. Funding was restored -- over the Secretary's resistance -- in about a month.

In March, this FU message greeted Army students. Funding was restored — over the Secretary’s resistance — in about a month.

Some time ago, we commented on the service secretaries (who are political appointees, commonly lawyers without significant military experience or ties to the military culture) and their decision to throw service members’ tuition assistance programs into the well of the sequester pain-amplification.

We didn’t follow up with a report that a united bipartisan Congress ordered the funding restored in the next Continuing Resolution, or that most services dragged their feet, but after sharp enquiries from the provision’s Congressional sponsors, grudgingly reinstated most benefits by mid-April.

The Air Force rather typically was first, and the Air Force and Army restored 100% coverage. The Marines and Coast Guard lagged, and the Marine leadership left left some Marines out in the cold — specifically, those who’d enrolled while the program was in the cooler. Military.com had an excerpt of the Congressional letter:

It is our understanding the Department of Defense (“Department”) has not yet taken action to restore Tuition Assistance for service members as required by Section 8129 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013, Public Law 113-6 (the “Continuing Resolution”).  That law requires the Secretaries of the Military Departments to carry out tuition assistance for members of the Armed Forces during the remainder of the 2013 fiscal year, using amounts that shall not be less than the amount appropriated or otherwise available by the Continuing Resolution…

Concern about the high cost of TA is legitimate. But the benefit was promised to current troops.

Concern about the high cost of TA is legitimate. Even Solyndra wasted “only” $850 million. But the benefit was promised to current troops, and unlike Solyndra, the US gets something for the money: better-educated service people (and ultimately, vets/citizens).

These cuts were of a piece with the FAA cuts that zero in on air traffic controllers, and White House cuts that close the house to tours while allowing Air Force One to fly to fund-raisers. They’re trying to maximize public pain for political reasons. It’s despicable, but they are politicians, that’s what they do (both parties of them, actually). In any event, Congress forced the reopening of tuition assistance to active-duty service men and women (except for some unlucky Marines). Most of the time, Congress is not worth extinguishing if it broke out in flames, but they got this one right.

We regret not covering this as soon as funding was restored (as early as 11 April for the USAF) and thank the anonymous helper who privately sent us a link to a related story.