The following is a statement from March Forward!
To our fellow enlisted service members in the U.S. military,
As many of you are aware, sequestration went into effect on Friday, March 1st. This has in turn caused the secretary of the Army, John McHugh, who has never served in any branch of the military to approve the suspension of Tuition Assistance to active duty military personal.
Tuition Assistance is the U.S. military's former program which allowed active-duty service members to attend college classes free of charge, a major selling-point for military recruiters.
First it is important to understand what sequestration is. Sequestration is defined as “ The action of taking legal possession of assets until a debt has been paid or other claims have been met.”
What debt have we the enlisted made to deserve this? The national debt is currently at $16,705,373,120,167.78. This debt has been on a continued increase of 3.87 billion per day since 2007.
Enlisted soldiers have nothing to do with creating this debt. The millionaire politicians in Washington, do. This begs a very serious question that must be addressed, why are we being punished for the mistakes of politicians?
As a result of Wall Street and Washington's economic crisis, which severely restricted our access to jobs, job training, and a college education, thousands of us joined the military specifically because we were promised an education. Tuition Assistance is one of the main benefits military recruiters use to lure young people into the military. We signed a contract with the U.S. government cementing those benefits.
The decision to strip active-duty service members of our contractual right to access education while on active duty was made by millionaires in Congress, who just gave themselves huge raises.
They are responsible for this crisis, and now they are throwing the economic burden on the backs of us, the enlisted.
There's "not enough money" for the benefits U.S. service members were promised, but there is enough money for politicians to give themselves raises in order to take more lavish vacations.
Over the past several years, we have faced a lack of predictability and inflexibility in our budget cycle and a series of cuts. We have faced multiple and lengthy deployments. We have worked harder than any politician can ever imagine, yet we are the ones bailing them out.
The United States military has an annual budget on average of 711,000,000,000 a year. A vast majority of these tax payer dollars end up in the hands of private sector military contractors instead of going to actually help service members. Despite this massive budget the government still says it cannot provide the educational benefits promised to enlisted military members.
The pointless and inhumane mission in Afghanistan--which is opposed by the vast majority of people in the United States, Afghanistan, and inside the U.S. military--costs U.S. taxpayers around $400 million per day. Rich politicians play politics with our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan, then reward themselves for a "job well done!"
This highlights yet another staple point in the lack of care the government of the wealthy has for service members. The gutting of the GI bill that happened last year was just a glimpse into what has happened this week. We not only are losing our education benefits while on active duty, but also our scholarship when we get out.
Year after year, we are told to “soldier on” and “suck it up” as they continue to take what we have fought for, what we have lost limbs, eye sight, lives, friends, and time with our family for.
The question must be raised, why are we fighting for a government that clearly will not fight for us?
From the Tuition Assistance cuts, to the suicide epidemic, to endless war, this government has proven that they care nothing about our lives. Only a movement of rank-and-file service members organizing against the generals and politicians can change the status quo.
We have our own solution to the budget crisis:
- End the occupation of Afghanistan immediately!
- Take our tax dollars out of the hands of war profiteers on Wall Street and their lackeys in Washington. Use that money to provide jobs, education, adequate health care, and social services!
- Make Wall Street pay for its crisis!
Jail the politicians who play with our lives for their own personal profit!
If you agree, join the movement to organize in our own interests against the generals, politicians, and Wall Street CEOs!