STATEMENT BY THE PRESS SECRETARY
Once again, the New York Times Editorial Board doesn’t let the facts get in the way of expressing its vitriolic opinions – no matter how misleading they may be.
In today’s editorial, “Mr. Bush and the GI Bill”, the New York Times irresponsibly distorts President Bush’s strong commitment to strengthening and expanding support for America’s service members and their families.
This editorial could not be farther from the truth about the President’s record of leadership on this issue. In his January 2008 State of the Union Address, while proposing a series of initiatives to support our military families, President Bush specifically called upon Congress to answer service members’ request that they be able to transfer their GI Bill benefits to their spouses and children. In April, he sent a legislative package to the Hill that would expand access to childcare, create new authorities to appoint qualified spouses into civil service jobs, provide education opportunities and job training for military spouses, and allow our troops to transfer their unused education benefits to their spouses or children.
As Congress debates the best way to expand the existing GI Bill, Secretary Gates has laid out important guidelines to ensure that legislation meets our service members’ needs and rewards military service. First, since our servicemen and women have regularly requested the ability to transfer their GI bill benefits to their family members, legislation should include transferability. Second, legislation should provide greater rewards for continued military service in the all volunteer force.
There are several GI bill proposals under consideration in both the House and Senate. The Department of Defense has specific concerns about legislation sponsored by Senator Webb because it lacks transferability and could negatively impact military retention.
The President specifically supports the GI Bill legislation expansion proposed by Senators Graham, Burr, and McCain because it allows for the transferability of education benefits and calibrates an increase in education benefits to time in the service.
Though readers of the New York Times editorial page wouldn’t know it, President Bush looks forward to signing a GI bill that supports our troops and their families, and preserves the experience and skill of our forces.