National Guard hit hard by sequester cuts
Men and women who served in Afghanistan, Iraq and many other places around the world say they are getting a raw deal from the politicians in Washington, D.C. Nearly 700 people in Indiana are losing a benefit promised to them by the Pentagon.
More than a decade of service has given Officer Marquitta Newett plenty of overseas experience.
“I spent my first tour in Germany, and I have been over to Iraq, and after about 12 years of service I decided to become an officer,” said Newett.
Now, Officer Newett is trying to transition into the next phase, from service to civilian life.
“I received my associate’s degree in accounting, and I received my bachelor’s degree in accounting, so right now tuition assistance, being in the guard helps a lot because I am working on my master’s degree,” said Newett.
Newett’s dream of earning her master’s, and becoming a CPA is taking a major hit.
There are three ways members of the military can receive financial aid:
– Supplemental Grant
– G.I. Bill
– Federal Tuition Assistance
The sequester is whiping away Federal Tuition Assistance completely.
“It hurt,” said Sergeant Joey Cope. “It hurt for sure.”
Cope was looking forward to going back to school but that is not happening anymore, at least not right now.
“I would say 70 percent of our soldiers enlist for tuition assistance,” said Cope. “It is the number one reason why they enlist. It is not for the sign-on bonus, they do it for the school. That is what is going to help them the most in their future.”
In all, between 500 and 700 Guardsmen receive Federal Tuition Assistance every semester. Colonel Lee Baker said the cuts of the sequestration could be deep when it comes recruiting new members and keeping current ones to re-enlist.
“We’re responsible for managing the organization, and if you don’t have the people, you can’t manage the organization,” said Baker.
Baker said he is optimistic that something will get done to pay military members back for their service.
Newett said it is a chance to find another use for what she learned on the battlefield.
“You cannot allow one barrier to hold you back, you have to find a way around it, and that is what we have to do as soldiers is to push forward and do not let it stop us,” said Newett.