Saturday, January 14, 2012

Thanks for Your Service, Guardsmen, Now Give Us Back That Tuition Assistance

On May 29th of last year, I wrote a post called "Fear and Loathing in the Illinois Army National Guard (or How I Managed to Pay My Way through College)," in which I recounted among other things how I was able to take advantage of the State of Illinois's tuition assistance program for National Guardsmen to complete my Bachelor's degree. Back then, of course, very few of us who served in the National Guard or military reserve ever got sent off overseas to fight in America's imperial wars. That obviously has changed in recent years, so you would think there would be greater incentive to protect the benefits promised to those who have made that particular sacrifice and risked their lives doing what the children of the elite would refuse to do. Sadly, you'd be wrong about that. Here is the story from a local television station in Iowa:
People join the National Guard with the expectation that their education will be paid for.

You've seen the ads and heard the line, "If you join the national guard you can get up to 100% tuition assistance."

Due to budget cuts, the Iowa National Guard's tuition assistance has gone from 90% down to 50%.

One Guardsman told me it's absurd.

Corey Duckett wanted to serve his country, but what sold him on joining the army national guard in 2007 was the benefit of having his college paid for.

"That is what I signed up for. It's in my contract actually," said Duckett.

This summer Duckett returned from 9 months in Afghanistan, and he's currently studying business at Morningside College.

He just found out about the tuition assistance cut two weeks after it was announced.

"There's always a lack of communication sometimes when it comes from way up high. I mean, I'm the little guy, so by the time it gets to me it's like hmm you should've known. Am I supposed to look this up on my own, am I supposed to just know this," said Duckett.

He's now on the hook for an extra $4,000 a year to study at Morningside, but there are ways to make up for the lost assistance from the state.
Okay, the state is broke and budget cuts need to be made. I get that if anybody does. But didn't any of the so called "leaders" running The Hawkeye State consider whether it might not be more advisable to limit the change in the tuition assistance program to new recruits and grandfather in those already serving, particularly if they already had to go to one of the war zones? Silly me, apparently not.

The only thing I would say to Corey Ducket is that he is now learning a much more valuable life lessen than any he's is going to learn while attending Morningside College. America has become a Me First Nation, particularly for those who constitute the 1%. They want theirs and don't want to pay their fair share in taxes, and they don't give a fuck about you or your service to your country even though none of them would ever deign to serve themselves. They may wave a flag, stick a yellow ribbon magnet on their car and blow patriotic smoke up your ass, but talk and little magnets are cheap.

That's a hard lesson, I realize, but a valuable one nonetheless.

Bonus: No, in case you forgot, this song was NOT actually appropriate for that flag waving, faux-patriotic, God damned jeans commercial


  1. For some reason this post made me think of John Prine's "Your Flag Decal Won't Get You Into Heaven Anymore"

  2. @starskeptic - I have a feeling I'll also be using that song at some point. :)

  3. This makes my blood boil. How many different ways do they think they can screw over that generation?
    1. Miserable job opportunities, so...
    2. Join Nat'l Guard- Go somewhere hellish, maybe pick up a mental illness as well.
    3. Come home, be convinced that going to a crappy college will get you that non-existent job.
    4. Then boomer and gen x jackasses decline to honor existing obligation to pay for said crappy college.

    I mean, I get mad when somebody talks to me rudely! How can they take this exponential abuse? I guess we will see soon just what the breaking point is....this can't go on. And I'm sure the wrong folks will be the victims of their rage.

    Thank you for writing this. I hope you'll distribute it widely- it's very important. Ida Tarbell kinda stuff!


  4. @Kathleen - thanks for that. I wish we could get the message through to the young kids thinking about signing up for the military BEFORE they do so that all of the patriotic nonsense that is sold to them is nothing but lies. I understand why someone still might raise his or her hand and take the oath if they have no other economic opportunities available to them, but the quaint notion of "serving your country" should not enter into their thinking.

  5. Bill,

    I think you need to become the one blogger in a thousand who has suggestions for what your readers should do to change what they don't like. If everyone just complains or reads complaints, what good is that?

  6. @Anon - my suggestion as to what readers should do is really very simple and I've said it here before: adjust your expectations to fit a world switching over from the long era of economic growth to an era of permanent contraction. How you can best do that in practice depends upon your own unique circumstances. I am not so arrogant that I would ever assert that I know what is best for anyone else but me.