Growing up in rural WVa, and a member of a large family, the possiblities of college education were extremely limited. In all reality I had two choices after high school graduation; military service or the coal mines. Frankly, the prospects of military service (at the time) seemed to have a far higher life expectancy. Also, with military service, came the GI Bill; an educational funding program designed to make available college funds for military veterans.
Twenty five years later, I look around me and I see hardly any change in the status of our current youths' choices. They can take a menial and highly dangerous job working in a coal mine or on an oil rig, or .... they can join the army. I have several misgivings about both, but most especialy about the former option. Why is it, that the young people of our nation, unless they come from very high income families, in order to attend college, must contemplate combat service, a lifetime of mental trama, possible permanent physical injury or even death, just to get an education? The GI Bill is a gamble. It simply states, "You can go to college......if you live."
Don't get me wrong, please. I served my country for more than twenty years. I served in multiple combat zones, have been wounded multiple times in combat, and am now permanently disabled from injuries sustatained in combat during operation Iraqi freedom. My only question is, if we can have a bill for soldiers, is there not some way to provide one for the people we so desperately served to protect in the first place? Or, am I forced to concede that my children are damned to the same life I found myself leading?
If soldiers can serve a tour of duty, investing a small portion of their pay in a GI Bill, is it possible that we could develope a program for civilians to enter, either as volunteers, or as governmental employees, by which they could earn the same right? This is assuming of course, that our country still recognizes the equal rights of all of it's citizens and isn't based on the concept of war for profit.