Under the Radar

Sound Off: Are Proposed Education Fees a Tax on the Troops?

The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. opposes a congressional proposal that would strip benefits granted under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Specifically, Congress is considering a bill that would reinstate a non-reimbursable enrollment fee for access to education benefits. Read more about

The new access fee would be $2400, payable in $100 monthly increments, for enlistees starting in 2018. That's double the old $1200 fee required in the Montgomery GI Bill, a fee that was eliminated in that Post-9/11 GI Bill. The fact that America was at war was one of the motivating factors behind getting rid of the fees in that 2009 law. The VFW maintains that, because we're still at war, it's wrong to even consider asking the men and women who serve to pay for access to that benefit.

“We are still a nation at war. We have troops actively engaged in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and now in Syria,” said VFW National Commander Brian Duffy. “The war on terrorism is not over! Congress’ focus should be on defeating our enemies and ending the war, not cutting the benefits of those who are fighting it.”

They're also calling the fee a Tax on the Troops:

“This new tax on troops is absurd. Ensuring veterans are able to successfully transition back to civilian life after military service is a cost of war; and not a fee that Congress can just pass along to our troops,” Duffy said. “Congress must stop nickeling and diming America’s service members and veterans!”

There are also many proposed improvements to education benefits that have been floated by other Veterans Service Organizations and several other VSOs are waiting to see what shows up in the bill before offering their comments. This draft legislation is expected to be introduced by House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Phil Roe on Wednesday, April 26 and we'll certainly revisit the other proposals in a future Sound Off.

What do you think? Is an access fee a fair trade for the benefit promised? Can an E-1 spare $100/month on his or her salary? Or should the nation make the educational benefits as easy to access as possible for the men and women who serve? Sound off!

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