Wright and GI Bill of Rights

More in yesterday’s papers: the Globe has an article about how the administration has stonewalled the new GI Bill of Rights.

The Pentagon and White House have so far resisted a new GI Bill out of fear that too many will use it – choosing to shed the uniform in favor of school and civilian life.

“The incentive to serve and leave,” said Robert Clarke, assistant director of accessions policy at the Department of Defense, may “outweigh the incentive to have them stay.”

Such administration objections infuriate the lead advocate in Congress for upgrading GI Bill benefits, US Senator James Webb, Democrat of Virginia. Webb, a Vietnam veteran and the only serving senator with a son who has seen combat in Iraq, said he simply can’t understand why veterans struggling to pay for higher education is not on the nation’s political radar screen, particularly in the presidential primary season when the war and the economy are both at the center of the debate.

[. . .]

One key player is James Wright, president of Dartmouth College, who believes the current GI Bill is outdated and an insult to combat veterans. A Korean War veteran from a working-class background who tapped the GI Bill to launch his academic career, Wright has helped begin a privately funded program in coordination with the American Council on Education to offer college counseling to veterans and help them find financial aid to supplement the GI Bill.

Efforts by Wright, other academic institutions, and individual philanthropists, such as billionaire financier Jerome Kohlberg, who last year announced a $4 million scholarship fund for veterans, are helping a few soldier-scholars. But only a few.

“There’s a moral imperative for us to provide for veterans, and there is a practical benefit to educating these men and women who have served their country,” said Wright, who last week announced that he will step down at Dartmouth but plans to continue his advocacy for GIs and an enhanced GI Bill. “For us to be failing to live up to that responsibility is unconscionable.”