Editorial: Returning Troops Should Be Able To Get An Education

This story was written by Editorial Board,

Going back on your word may be considered a faux pas. And while President Bush isn't completely reneging on national policy that has been in place for nearly half a century, his unwillingness to expand it will do more than turn up a few looks of disdain.

Starting with World War II, veterans could look forward to a free college education thanks to the G.I. Bill. But some who currently served in Iraq and Afghanistan may not receive the same benefit as those who served in Korea and Vietnam-a move that calls into question just how much appreciation our troops receive today.

The House of Representatives passed legislation this month that would expand funding for the G.I. Bill, specifically to pay four-year public university fees for those who have served at least three years since Sept. 11, 2001. It's a reward the patriotic men and women who had signed up to fight on behalf of the United States undoubtedly deserve.

Instead, Bush is threatening to veto the bill, which would place him in an odd paradox: a very pro-war president who has consistently given the green light for measures to further the effort suddenly skimps on a key benefit for soldiers.

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Regardless of personal feelings about the war, it is still important to support the troops who are fighting and sacrificing for this country. Granted, the reasoning behind the veto is fear of a potential wave of departure that could leave our forces understaffed. But it is just as conceivable for enlistment to go up because of the improved incentive. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated a 16 percent increase in recruitment.

There is perhaps no greater disregard of veterans' services than to scale down their compensation. The military has always been touted for its pledge to give soldiers a better chance at education, and it's a promise it should keep.