When I joined the Army back in 1991, my original plan was to spend a couple years as an enlisted infantryman and then apply to become an officer. I still believe that’s the right way to serve as an officer; there is not a single officer in the military today who would not have improved with prior enlisted service. So around the two year mark of my enlistment I went down to a Green to Gold briefing at Fort Lewis. For those of you who don’t know, Green to Gold is an Army program that takes enlisted soldiers and puts them on a track to become officers after a period in College. In the briefing, however, they told me I could not qualify for a four year scholarship unless I chose to attend a predominantly black college. At the same time, the Army leadership was offering full four year ROTC scholarships to any 18 year old high school students who wanted one, and with none of the same racist restrictions. After thinking about it overnight, I realized it was all bullshit, and that I wanted nothing to do with the Army, at least as an officer. I realized that the Army leadership was sick and racist, and actively discriminated against enlisted men who wanted to become officers. So I did the rest of my time honorably, got out, and here I am, an incredibly successful part-time blogger who gets to post on this blog when nobody is watching.
Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I went to visit the Army recruiter in Ukiah, CA, in an advisory capacity to a young man — the son of a family friend — who wanted to serve his country as an infantryman. While we were there, I made sure the recruiter explained how the GI bill benefit worked. He also explained that everyone in the Army is eligible for tuition assistance while on active duty, and that the Army is serious about getting its enlisted soldiers time to learn. I thought that was a good thing. It jibed with my own experience of getting to take advantage of a similar program in the early 90’s which paid for classes I took with my unit in between deployments. Thumbs up. But then today, I noticed that the Army and Marine Corps have announced they are going to take away the tuition assistance consideration.
Here’s the thing, though. I’m willing to bet that conversations about Army tuition assisctance benefits between recruiters and future soldiers like the one I witnessed a couple weeks back have been happening for years all across the country, from Ukiah to San Diego to Austin to Boston, and that there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers who signed up, at least in part, based on this tuition assistance consideration. And for each one of these soldiers, there’s probably an influencer like me who — at least in part — made his recommendation to the future soldier based on that consideration as well. The cheap target here is Obama. After all, he chose to prioritize golfing with Tiger Woods and sending $250,000,000 to the Muslim Brotherhood, and flying on Air Force one for date nights with Michelle to New York City and million dollar vacays to Hawaii over putting the money into defense. And he has failed to submit a budget on time for 4 of the last 5 years. And the unserious budgets he has submitted were voted down unanimously by the Senate in each of the last two.
But the real target for blame here is, I think, the Army leadership, specifically those field grade and general officers who, perhaps because so few of them have enlisted military experience, prioritize members of their caste by fucking over enlisted soldiers in favor of, say, fucking over ROTC or West Point cadets.
Now I know what you’re going to say if you’re one of these officers. You’re going to say something to the effect that: “Education isn’t as important for enlisted soldiers as it is for officers.” Or maybe you’re going to say to the private, “Hey Private, you signed on the dotted line and you agreed to everything in your contract including the part which specifically says in subsection b part 4 Section IX that nothing the recruiter promised which is not in the contract is guaranteed so shut the fuck up and do pushups.” Or even better you’re going to blame the victim and say “Oh booh hoo, the recruiter lied to you.” And then you’re going to elbow one of your officer buddies, or perhaps one of your sychophantic senior NCO’s and say “I bet Private Snuffy thinks he’s the first soldier a recruiter ever lied to ha-ha-ha!”
To which I feel obligated to respond on Private Snuffy’s behalf: Fuck you in your fat, bleached asshole.