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Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Strongly Reject McCain's Watered-Down Education Bill

By VoteVets.org  |  Press Release
PUBLISHED: April 23, 2008

IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS STRONGLY REJECT MCCAIN'S
WATERED-DOWN EDUCATION BILL
"Stop undermining America's heroes," say war veterans

WASHINGTON, DC - Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan flat-out rejected a watered down substitute of the Webb-Hagel GI Bill, offered by Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Richard Burr yesterday. The veterans made clear that the only piece of legislation acceptable to the veterans community is The Post 9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act (S.22), cosponsored by Senators Jim Webb and Chuck Hagel.

"Senators McCain, Graham, and Burr are shortchanging our veterans, and undermining America's heroes, as they reach for the American dream," said Jon Soltz, Chairman of VoteVets.org, and an Iraq War veteran. "Frankly, it hurts to have two veterans, like Senators McCain and Graham treat us like this. We would expect that they would have more honor than that."

The veterans stated that the McCain-Graham-Burr bill falls flat in its key differences from the Webb-Hagel Bill, which has the support of 57 members of the Senate, from both sides of the aisle.

1) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates a flat education benefit, not taking into account the cost of state colleges where veterans live. This would mean veterans in states where the cost of education is higher than the benefit would have go to into debt to get an education, or uproot themselves and their families to move to a place where the benefit would cover college. The Webb-Hagel Bill determines the education benefit based on the highest state college tuition in a veterans' home state, allowing veterans to come home and attend college, without upheaval in their lives.

2) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation creates second-class veterans, by offering those who serve in the military for 12 years the chance to transfer their education benefits to their children. This says to a veteran who serves for two years and loses both of his legs in combat that his service isn't as valuable as someone who has served for longer.

3) The McCain-Graham-Burr legislation leaves the National Guard and Reserve out in the cold. In the current conflicts, the National Guard and Reserve have served faithfully alongside their active duty compatriots, and deserve equal benefits. Yet, the McCain bill does nothing to reward our Guard and Reservists for their cumulative service. Under the McCain bill, over 160,000 members of the Guard and Reserves who have done more than one tour in Iraq or Afghanistan would get no credit towards an education for their additional sacrifice.

"A fair education benefit is a sacred promise made to America's military after World War II," added Soltz. "That promise has been allowed to become outdated and tarnished. Only the Webb-Hagel bill will restore its luster. And, for that reason, it is the only acceptable bill to America's veterans. Any Senator who joins Senator McCain on his bill does not support our veterans, and we will make sure their constituents are well aware of that fact."

VoteVets.org is a pro-military organization committed to the destruction of terror networks around the world, with force when necessary. It represents the Voice of America's 21 Century Patriots - those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. It primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf of troops, veterans and their families.

Webby Award Official HonoreePaid for VoteVets Political Action Committee. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee. VoteVets Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on behalf veterans and their families. VoteVets Political Action Committee is a federal political committee which primarily helps elect Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran candidates and educates about veterans and military issues aimed at influencing the outcome of the next election.

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VoteVets Political Action and Vote Vets Action Fund are separate organizations.