I had a lovely blog post started in celebration of International Women’s Day, partially about my travels as a military spouse and all of the incredible international women that I have met. My beautiful writing came to a screeching halt when I discovered that thousands of international women were suffering due to consequences of our government sequestration.
We all knew that the ax was going to fall and programs were going to be cut, but I am deeply saddened that one of them was the Federal Tuition Assistance Program. One of the prime benefits of enlisting in the military is the option of having tuition assistance to help cover the costs of furthering their education. I am not just saddened for women, it is equally heartbreaking for men and military families. Today our international military women should be able to celebrate International Women’s Day, and not fret about paying for college or continuing their education.
I know what it is like to live on a junior enlisted soldiers salary and it isn’t easy. Now our soldiers who signed contracts and essentially signed their lives over to protect our freedom have had one of their primary benefits taken away. Active duty soldiers often use their education to help them achieve points which are used toward promotion. I am upset over other cuts to programs such as education, but to take a benefit away from a military member that they were promised is entirely unacceptable.
I have been essentially a single mother for the last two years due to my husbands position. He works in another country and his orders are considered “temporary duty”(although I don’t know how you consider a 3 year tour there temporary). My son has been without his father and I take care of him alone. It is a reality for any military spouse and family. We know that there will be times we will be apart, and this wasn’t the first and probably not the last time he will gone for an extended period. How does the government expect military families to sacrifice so much and then take away benefits?
My husband finished his bachelors degree using military tuition assistance, and had been using it to partially fund graduate school in International Relations. This will essentially prevent him from progressing in graduate school until when or even if the program is reinstated.
It will be interesting to see how military recruitment for active duty branches fairs in the months ahead. National guard soldiers shouldn’t be impacted at the moment unless they are deployed or attend an out of state school that was funded through Federal Tuition Assistance. National Guard education benefits are funded through State Tuition Assistance programs.
I know that many of us feel helpless again sequestration but we need to make our voices heard. You need to let your Senators and Congressman know that this is unacceptable. We can’t blame parties or individuals, they need to make a collective effort to create a budget without slashing necessary and essential programs.
I hurt for the families of active duty military which were affected today. I only hope that alternative solutions can be found to sequestration and military members are given a benefit they rightfully deserve.
Happy International Women’s day to all of the military women (spouses and service members) which sacrifice their safety and freedom to ensure ours.
Happy Facinorous Friday,