Sunday, November 8, 2015

Post 9/11 GI Bill a Template for Publicly Funded College

As a veteran of the United States Navy, I very much appreciate my ability to continue higher education through my use of the Montgomery G.I. Bill.  I left the Navy in 2006 during a very competitive market.  After finding employment in the social service industry in the beginning of 2007 for an annual wage of $17,500 a year, I met my husband and promptly began starting a family with him.  The cost of childcare outpaced my salary at the time, and we both came to the decision that staying home would be more financially practical given our distance from town and the added costs of employment.  With only two years of post-service employment on my resume, my return to the workforce after my second child with my husband left a large void of local work experience on my resume.  I had, at that point in my life, earned a B.A of natural sciences using my Montgomery G.I. Bill, but my specific skills from my time as an analyst forecaster in the Navy and the degree did not meet well with the type of employment available in the area (primarily retail).  So my husband and I realized I could earn an income again from the G.I. Bill by going into a relatively more marketable field:  management.  

As time wore on, my resumes appeared to be sucked into the vortex of a highly underemployed county; however, lucky for me, the G.I bill earned me a net profit while I attended college.  I continued and continue even now to search for employment, with a few optimistic interviews and no call-backs interrupting my search. And so it is that I am now working on a graduate degree, primarily for the income from the G.I. Bill (though I thoroughly enjoy my experience). The way that the now old-fashioned G.I. Bill works is that I get paid about $1500 a month for college as a full time student while I attend classes.  I also have a bit of a topper added to my contract, so I get a little more.  If my tuition is low, as it has been, I pay for my tuition myself and the Veterans Affairs pays me the check, which in my case, is more than the cost of tuition.  As it stands, I will be eligible to use one year of the new-fashioned Post 9/11 G.I. Bill once I use my Montgomery G.I. Bill.

To a certain extent, this extra income has been amazing.  While I hope that I can earn a decent paying job, I know that until any employer understands me as a candidate and hires me, I have zero educational debt and I am contributing to our household income.  I will not be desperate to earn a high dollar figure because of that.  So, having become a pretty big supporter of Bernie Sander's approach on democracy, grass-roots campaigning, and his fight for the three most important issues facing the ability of young Americans to work, health-care, parental leave, and educational funding,  a giant question flew out of my old-fashioned G.I. Bill earning self:

How would a President Bernie Sanders deal with veterans' G.I. Bill benefits if state colleges and universities were tuition free?

The answer is with the new-fashioned Post 9/11 G.I. Bill.  I mentioned that bill earlier, because service members with a certain length of service who had the old fashioned G.I Bill (such as I have) could opt to switch to the new one or can use their regular G.I. Bill then be eligible for one year of the new one.  

So what's the new-fashioned Post 9/11 G.I. Bill?

The Post 9/11 G.I. Bill works very differently than the Montgomery G.I. Bill.  In my case, I pay for my tuition out of pocket, verify my enrollment with the VA, then earn a check each month, regardless of the cost of tuition.  If I go to a low-cost college, I stand a good chance of earning more than the cost.  If I go to school full time and my semester tuition cost me, say $2,000, I pay tuition, then for the next four months of a 16 week semester, I will earn the current monthly rate of tuition for a full-time student under the G.I Bill, which, as of 2015 is $1789 per month.  The total payout over the course of sixteen weeks is $6605, minus the tuition is $4605, earning me a net profit of $1247 a month (not including the cost of books).

With the new-fangled Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, there are a lot of awesome benefits, including the ability of career service members to transfer benefits to dependants; however, it works differently than the Montgomery G.I. Bill.  With the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, the VA pays the college for tuition directly.  Then, the veteran who attends a brick and mortar school for a certain percentage of his or her classes also receives the full allowance for housing that the government normally pays to enlisted members of pay grade E-5 with dependents for the location of the school.  The housing allowance varies based on the cost of living, but as an example, where I live the basic allowance for housing (BAH) for an E-5 with dependents is $1371.00 per month.  Students who attend college completely  online will only receive $714.50 a month.

If the students receive free tuition to their school under the Post 9/11 G.I. bill, they are still eligible to receive the housing allowance as well as the book stipend, though the VA will no pay any additional money to the school.  In short, the student will pay no out of pocket costs and will also receive a monthly payment.  

In short, the Post 9/11 G.I. Bill, Introduced by Senator Jim Webb (D-VA), with 57 co-sponsors, including Senator Bernie Sanders, presents a solid foundation for changing the way we perceive public education by allowing veterans to benefit even when state colleges and universities are tuition free, because there would surely need to be a big change to the old-fashioned Montgomery G.I. Bill in terms of costs and benefits to veterans.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Democratic Debates

Democrats, time to untwist your underoos and spread the so-so news that the first debate for the lefties will finally happen on October 13th, 2015!  So far, the Republicans have been permeating the air with their campaign speeches and debates, and ironically, even the Donald has taken over the leftiest of lefty networks, MSNBC.  After a while, a Democrat could get confused and think the only person running for President IS Trump.  Well, that's not about to change, but there will be a few debates, and we are getting ready to finally get a peek-a-book at the Democrats.  Who's running for the Democratic ticket again?  Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, right (YOU know what I mean by this, Mr. O'Malley.  I know you do, and you're nodding with disdain, aren't you?)?  A good deal of people are feeling a little like the DNC did not expect anyone to know there was anyone other than Clinton running, but on a side note, I have been hard pressed (no pun intended) to find a media outlet that doesn't seem a little jittery in the britches to see what Sanders says during the debates.

Since there will not be many Democratic debates, rally the people for the shows.  Let's watch them hard, people!

Friday, September 18, 2015

Bernie Sanders on the Issues

Because presidential candidate Bernie Sanders believes highly in democracy, we should not be surprised that much of his campaign springs from the democratic process. Volunteers who believe Sanders should be the next president campaign, host, promote, and work hard hoping to help get Bernie elected to the White House.

With that said, discusses all of Bernie Sanders' platform stances very comprehensively, and the website has been built collaboratively by volunteers who hope Bernie Sanders becomes the next President of the United States.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nurse Beauty and the Woman's Curse

The women of the view had some words about Miss America Pageant contestant, Miss Colorado's Kelley Johnson, who chose to speak about nursing for the talent portion of the contest.

What struck me about the women's chattering was that they could not see the talent in nursing as opposed to, say playing the violin or singing opera.  Years ago, I read one of the Bronte books, (can't remember which), and I was totally in love with the way in which women of the time took to educating themselves with the only option for them being to become married.  They couldn't own property or become scholars.  They learned to play instruments, sing, recite poetry.  They studied history and were well-read.  These pageants are ancient relics of a time when women needed to beautify themselves and showcase their talents ostensibly.  So this woman clearly went to nursing school and may not have developed a talent (including the art of the monologue, though I thought her monologue was nice) which people find entertaining, but she had a skill that she shared.  Her talent wasn't the public speaking.  Her talent was nursing, and she did her best to articulate that.  But did she win?  Was she pretty enough?

Pretty enough is the litmus test many women feel they must pass for life passages which have very little to do with finding a mate in life, and in fact, real humans, man or otherwise, are perfectly capable of being attracted to and loving someone who isn't perfectly "pretty."  When it comes to occupations, we tend to set up the boys for decent occupations without realizing that we aren't so sure what to tell young women.  They should do something think-y or become teachers or nurses, but if they do something think-y, they may get themselves in over their heads.  So why do you think we have women who become strippers or pageant contestants? 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Bernie Sanders on Income Inequality and Democracy

Real Median Family Family Income --Bernie Sanders makes the case that people are making less money today than they did in previous years.  Watch the video to see why people are paying attention to Bernie Sanders' campaign.  The video has snazzy background music and awesome infographics.

Bernie Sanders on the Idolatry of Money

"Money has to serve, not to rule" --Pope Francis

Senator Bernie Sanders spoke at Liberty University, expressing his concern over the income gap in the United States.  Sanders spoke from a core in his being built from the origin of human rights.  Pope Francis says we have "created new golden calves," by idolizing money.  Sanders quoted Pope Francis' assertion that "There is a need for financial reform along ethical lines that would produce in its turn an economic reform to benefit everyone."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sandra Bland's Message

   Listen to Sandra Bland's message, because she's voicing a message that is obviously not sinking into our social fabric.  I'm still not over Trayvon Martin's death, because all of the evidence surrounding Trayvon's death, to me, seemed painfully obvious that Trayvon did nothing to instigate any sort of attack, let alone his own death.  We forget these deaths as a society so easily.  What ever happened to Kendrick Johnson, for example, the young teen found dead in a rolled up gym mat under suspicious circumstances?  I see an underlying theme to these cases, and I think a good number of people really misunderstand what some of the primary issues are.  Of course, social advocates such as Sandra Bland do an excellent job at attempting to clarify them, people become uncomfortable, defensive, and fidgety with a subject we all need to address with completely open minds.

This Isn't Just About White People Hurting Black People

   One of the common sentiments I see people bleating redundantly in response to these pleas for justice is, "Well, more white people, statistically are victims of crime by black people than the reverse," or, I hear people bleating, "What about XYZ case where a black man shot and killed a white man.  How come that wasn't in the news?"  Okay, so firstly, making a competition about which group of people is more dangerous is, well, dangerous to society, but these arguments are missing the point. In every case someone attempted to refute the #blacklivesmatter movement by posting about a black person killing a white person, I've found that the perpetrator was swiftly incarcerated and the victim was swiftly vindicated.  I keep thinking about Trayvon Martin because this was a young man who walked nearly a mile to the store and ended up dead, with no weapons on him, within 50 feet of his apartment.  The police tested him, the victim, for drugs, and soon afterward, his every deed as a teen was unearthed as to criminalize him.  The majority of the public defaulted to automatically criminalizing Trayvon.  Many people didn't even scratch their heads even once at the possibility that Trayvon wasn't a hardened criminal.  So we come to a weird catch-22 about the justice for black victims:

Statistics about Black Crime Perpetuate Unreasonable and Societally Dangerous Stereotypes

     Take Sandra Bland, for example.  I get that Sandra Bland was irritated and that the best advice for people stopped by officers is to comply and be as respectful as possible, but I'm sure you can converse with a lot of decent police officers who can attest to the vast array of annoyed individuals who attempt to argue their way out of traffic tickets, who sometimes use profanity, or who sometimes throw mini temper-tantrums at the idea of a ticket.  Police generally don't force them out of the car on that reason alone (unless they are confrontational to the point that seems unsafe).  In fact, Sandra Bland didn't even use profanity when the officer asked her, "What's wrong."  She was brutally honest, and clearly irritated.  Her situation was clearly escalated by the police officer who arrested her, but she was in a jail cell alone for a traffic violation.  This woman was being charged with an assault on a public officer:  a felony.  A felony takes a person's right to vote from them.  A felony makes it difficult for a person to get, keep, and maintain adequate employment.  A felony is a major festering wound on a person's record.  This officer attempted to royally interfere with Sandra's ability to be successful in life with this charge, and remember, she was supposedly not under arrest until he was already apprehending her, which is certainly a confusing catch-22 in our justice system, isn't it?

    So, Sandra Bland would be (and is) another blip in the crime statistics vault on the dangerous crimes of black people.  The most profound thought nugget coming from this is that when someone posts one of those statistical info graphics about how criminal black folks are, consider the fact that maybe, just maybe, a good number of them are being provoked and charged with crimes which are incredibly unreasonable, and so, that only adds to the invisible racist undertone of people's minds. Truly, a considerable number of black people being accused of crimes are actually the victims themselves.   Judges see assertive black women as rebels and criminals and young black men as thugs or gang members without really considering the human context of the individual.  Obviously the public is quick to criminalize black victims, as we see in the Trayvon Martin Case.

     There is something to these movements and demonstrations.  We can't continue minimizing these acts and cries for societal change.  We have to acknowledge these issues and admit it:  something is seriously wrong.