May 08 2008

Graham, Senators Expresses Concerns Webb Bill Could Hurt Reenlistment Rates

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Richard Burr (R-NC) today commented on the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of S. 22, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2007.


In response to a request from Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH), the ranking Minority Member of the Senate Budget Committee, the CBO provided information about the cost of S. 22, including its impact on the retention of military personnel.  CBO estimates that enactment of S. 22 could lead to a decrease of 16% in reenlistment rates and increase the Department of Defense costs to maintain current levels of retention.


“I believe we can and must do more to improve education benefits for our veterans and servicemembers,” said Senator McCain.  “Congress must enact legislation that will increase education benefits, aid in recruitment and, importantly, encourage continued service in the military.”


“As our armed forces fight a war on two fronts, we must do everything we can to maintain and encourage reenlistment” said McCain.  “Unfortunately, S. 22 could greatly harm retention rates in our All Volunteer Force.  I am hopeful that all of us who want to improve the GI Bill education benefits can join forces and that is why I stand ready to work with Senator Webb and others to pass meaningful legislation that works in the best interests of all servicemembers and veterans, including those that remain on duty."


“Our nation faces many challenges when it comes to maintaining our all volunteer force.  There is no doubt our servicemembers have earned enhanced education benefits; however, these benefits should be balanced to reflect the service of our citizen soldiers and career forces,” said Senator Graham.


“It's in our own national interest to retain the best, brightest, and most experienced in our armed forces.  The Graham-Burr-McCain bill enhances education benefits for all veterans and provides revolutionary incentives for servicemembers who wish to stay in the military.  Under our transferability provision, these members can transfer their benefits to their spouse and children.  This option recognizes the sacrifices made by both the military family as well as the service member, and this provision has been well-received by service members and their families,” said Graham.


“Significant improvements in education benefits for our military personnel are long overdue,” said Senator Burr.  “Education benefits should aid recruitment and retention efforts and help servicemembers pursue successful careers after they leave the military.  The Graham-Burr-McCain bill is a simple and fair plan that would allow more personnel to transfer their unused benefits to spouses and children, encouraging career service and helping military families reach their educational goals.”