As 9/11 approaches, many are attempting to put those events and all that occurred in the wake of that tragedy into some sort of perspective. I was asked by one of our Google+ friends to put something together with a positive spin on it rather than the usual "we made mistakes" or "the world is a dangerous place" sort of posting.
I spend a lot of time working with veterans (being one myself) and so was thinking about the impact of the events of the past decade on that group of people. We know that they have done all we have asked of them and more. Over 6,000 Americans have died with nearly 33,000 wounded in action. Add to that the nearly 3,000 killed in the 9/11 attack and the estimated over 100,000 civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan and the toll has been devastating.
So, what on earth can be good out of all of this. What can we see positive in all this. Admittedly, in the face of such a human toll, the answer must be a human one. Some progress in making the world a better place. Some movement in a direction with promise to solve our problems before getting involved in destructive warfare.
I post one - not the only one out there - but one that holds some real promise for our future and the future of the world.
In 2007, Senators Jim Webb (D-VA) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE) introduced the Post 9-11 GI Bill, an act designed to provide all veterans the means to complete college, much as was done in the years following World War II. President Bush signed the bill in 2008 and, to date, over a half-million of our veterans have taken advantage of this boost to their education.
These men and women, clearly some of the best and brightest in the world, now have a chance to move on beyond their service to country in uniform and begin to offer the United States their talents in ways we can't begin to imagine. Some of these people will begin new careers in business. Some will go into politics, bringing their military experiences with them to help make better public policy with respect to our military services and war-making. Some will begin teaching our youth what it means to serve their country, whether in uniform or out.
The World War II GI Bill is credited with providing the United States a much needed manpower boost in the 1950s and 1960s. The Post 9-11 GI Bill promised to do much the same. Men and women who would likely have not had the opportunity to go to college now will have the chance and the country will benefit.
I trust these people to make good decisions for themselves and those decisions will be good for the country. Watch how many rise to influential positions and begin to teach their country how best to improve.
My hat is off to Jim Webb for championing this bill in the face of withering fire. My hat is off to Congress for doing the right thing for the right people. If we as a country ask these men and women to endanger themselves on our behalf, we owe them an education - at a minimum. We owe them so much more.