Playing politics with soldiers

From Phil Carter:

[T]he California National Guard is alone among the 50 states in not providing state-funded tuition assistance to its National Guard troops. Although soldiers can still get the reserve GI Bill, this state offers no separate benefit to make up the difference between that amount and UC/CSU tuition, nor any separate GI Bill-like benefits of its own. 

Why is this? Impotent politicians are taking out their frustrations on the Guard, according to the Times:

State Sen. Jack Scott (D-Altadena) chairs the Senate Education Committee, which has scuttled attempts by the California Guard to get tuition assistance for members. College aid ought to be based on financial need, not on membership in a group, Scott said, and if the federal government deploys the Guard overseas, then it should give members the same educational benefits as enlisted men and women, who can get more than $1,000 a month for school.

“It’s the federal government that’s made the decision to go to war,” Scott said.

How much would this cost?

All it would take, Guard officials say, is $3 million a year, a negligible sum in the state’s $130-billion proposed budget.

Politicians’ distance from the military, as one Republican Assemblyman rightly noted, is a central reason for this childish and short-sighted behavior.  

Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine), who retired last month from the Guard after 24 years, said the Legislature is out of touch with the military.

Only 13 of the state’s 120 lawmakers have military experience, and Devore said that since the closure of many bases in recent decades, most Californians have no regular contact with the military.

And some lawmakers are reluctant to do anything that could be viewed as support for the war in Iraq, he said.

My great state of California must realign its priorities and understand the full implications of this lack of action. The federal government isn’t the one being punished, it the men and women who serve, the communities they live in, and the economy as a whole. But this is clearly too big of a picture of some to come to grips with.