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Prominent National Groups Endorse Effort To Reinstate Tuition Assistance Program
Monday, March 18, 2013
Washington, DC - U.S. Senators Kay Hagan and Jim Inhofe today announced growing support for their bipartisan amendment to reinstate the Tuition Assistance Program for servicemembers. Prominent national groups including the Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), American Legion, Marine Corps League, American Military Retirees Association, AMVETS, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), Non Commissioned Officer Association (NCOA), and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) have endorsed the amendment. Other endorsements include local community colleges and families personally affected by the discontinuation of these funds. Due to sequestration, the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Marine Corps have suspended beneficial Tuition Assistance funds that are designated for servicemembers.
"I am proud to have the support of so many military and education groups who are standing with me and Senator Inhofe as we fight to get tuition assistance benefits reinstated," said Hagan. "We cannot balance the budget on the backs of ourservicemembers. There is no doubt we must get our fiscal house in order, but this is not the way to do so - it is shortsighted to completely suspend this crucial program."
"Around 60 percent of our men and women who join our all-volunteer Armed Forces do so in order to pursue a higher education," said Inhofe. "This is a moral issue; not a partisan issue. Sen. Hagan and I have heard from colleagues on both sides of the aisle, countless military families and veterans, as well as organizations concerned and alarmed by the abrupt end to the program. While we must address our nation's challenging fiscal crisis, we must establish priorities with the resources we do have. We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform for this amendment to be voted on and included in the Senate Continuing Resolution."
Vice Admiral Norbert R. Ryan, President of MOAA said:
"MOAA is deeply concerned that the Pentagon abruptly canceled tuition assistance programs for the troops. In addition to the obvious impact on morale, it's already having a measurable impact on recruiting. With so many years of sacrifice for the nation the all-volunteer force deserve better. MOAA strongly supports Senators Inhofe and Hagan's efforts to reverse this bad decision."
The Non Commissioned Officer Association (NCOA) released a letter of support that said:
"It is readily apparent to the Non Commissioned Officers Association of the USA (NCOA) that tuition assistance programs contribute to the creation of significant leadership potential of every serving member." The NCOA letter said, "Well done Senators Inhofe and Hagan on the priority introduction of this high value Amendment! NCOA fully Supports your action and will assist in every way possible to preserve tuition assistance."
For a copy of the full NCOA letter, please click here.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) stated in a letter:
"On behalf of the 2 million members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) and our Auxiliaries, we are pleased to offer our strongest support to your amendment to the upcoming Defense Continuing Resolution, requiring each military service secretary to carry out Tuition Assistance programs authorized by law."
For a copy of the full VFW letter, please click here.
American Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization, said:
"We thank Senators Inhofe and Hagan for their work on behalf of the men and women in uniform and for their attention to this important matter," said an American Legion spokesperson.
Dr. Walter G. Bumphus, President and CEO of the Association of American Community Colleges (AACC), said:
"The nation's community colleges have a longstanding commitment to educating the country's armed forces. Countless individuals have used tuition assistance benefits at community colleges to acquire needed skills and longer-term career education and training. The loss of the military tuition assistance program for the remainder of the current funding year is a terrible blow to these dedicated individuals, and AACC strongly supports efforts to reverse this outcome."
Dr. David Brand, Vice President of Fayetteville Technical Community College near Fort Bragg, NC said:
"Over the past two years, the more than 4500 Special Operations Soldiers who participated in the Fayetteville Technical Community College have not only benefited personally from the use of Tuition Assistance, the United States Army and even more importantly the United States' at large has benefited. An educated soldier is key to our future military and Tuition Assistance is the key to educating our military force."
Barbara Van Dahlen, Ph.D., President and Founder of Give an Hour, a national non-profit organization that provides free mental health care and support to returning troops, their families, and their communities, stated:
"Providing those who serve with assistance to pursue educational interests has implications well beyond the opportunity to earn an advanced degree. Of course our service members gain knowledge and expertise when they pursue higher education. They also gain confidence, self esteem and pride - all of which serve to improve emotional well being, increase the likelihood of successful reintegration and smooth the transition to civilian life."
Bianca M. Strzalkowski, 2011 Military Spouse of the Year, and Susan Reynolds, 2013 Pope Air Force Field Spouse of the Year also extended their support and thanks for the amendment:
"I wanted to extend my gratitude on behalf of the military spouse community for Senator Hagan's commitment to restoring the Tuition Assistance program for our troops. Service members have valued the opportunity to pursue their education since World War II and it has allowed our brave heroes the opportunity to achieve their degrees while courageously protecting the freedoms of our Nation," said Mrs. Strzalkowski.
"The suspension of the Tuition Assistance program for three of our branches is appalling and a hurts morale in our military," said Mrs. Reynolds. "I am pleased to know that military families have a voice in Senator Kay Hagan. I applaud both Sen. Hagan and Sen. Inhofe in their efforts to maintain Tuition Assistance, and I vow to support this type of legislation because it keeps our military strong."
In the 2012 fiscal year, approximately 300,000 servicemembers participated in the Tuition Assistance Program. In the same time period, more than 50,000 degrees, diplomas or certificates were earned by active duty servicemembers enrolled in the program. The decision exempts those already receiving aid, but prevents servicemembers from submitting new requests for the assistance.
Last week, Senator Hagan wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel urging reconsideration of this decision. Please click here to read the letter.
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