Jack McDermott, VFW State Commander called the United States Senate passage of the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act, “One of the most important actions in the past fifty years to improve veterans benefits. This is a milestone in bipartisanship.
The fact that 72 Democrats and Republicans came together to make a ‘GI Bill for the 21st Century’ a reality is testimony to the fact that veterans issues can serve to transcend party lines. I am extremely gratified that Senator Mel Martinez joined his fellow Floridian, Senator Bill Nelson, in voting for this bill. It took a lot of moral courage for Senator Martinez to break with the White House and support this bill.” The administration supported a far less generous education package and criticized the bill that passed as being too difficult for the VA to administer and that it would cause an unacceptable level of servicemen and women to choose to leave the military to attend college.
McDermott went on to say, “Senator Martinez, after listening to our position, recognized that America’s veterans who served selflessly are deserving of an education package comparable to one received by World War II veterans. Senator Martinez really came through for the newest generation of veterans. It is clear to us that Senator Martinez and Senator Nelson understand that, like the World War II GI Bill, this bill will pay dividends for many years to come. We are gratified that the Senate will enable a service member who chooses to stay in the military to transfer this valuable educational benefit to a spouse or child.” McDermott acknowledged the major hurdle is still ahead in the form a presidential veto. “We in the VFW find it absolutely inconceivable that President Bush is threatening to veto this bill as being too costly and that is doesn’t belong in the Iraq war supplemental spending bill. We have supported the President in the conduct of the Global War on Terrorism and all we ask is that he supports this newest generation of veterans.
The White House is plain wrong when it says that a bill directly benefiting young veterans and their families and indirectly serving as an economic stimulus is not a wartime expenditure. That is an absolutely indefensible position for a wartime president. Ironically, President George W. Bush is denying this generation of service members the same educational benefit that was available to President George H. W. Bush when he returned home after World War II.”