Entries in US Military (5)


Military to Reinstate Tuition Assistance Program

Creatas/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Active duty members of the military and their loved ones were thrilled Thursday when a vote in the House of Representatives reinstated the tuition assistance program for military members.

The Republican majority House voted Thursday to approve the 2013 Continuing Resolution, a stopgap measure that funds federal agencies through Sept. 30. The resolution includes an amendment instructing secretaries of the branches of the military to reinstate the program until the end of fiscal year 2013. Thursday’s legislation does not cover cuts specifically prescribed in the automatic, across-the-board sequester legislation.

Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, said his office values the tuition assistance program, but the fiscal climate is ripe for reevaluating programs.

“As always, whenever the president signs legislation proposed by Congress into law, we will comply,” Hull-Ryde wrote in an email to ABC News Thursday. “If enacted, this legislation would require the services to make difficult and very thoughtful decisions on how to fund tuition assistance throughout the remainder of FY13 without impacting readiness.”

John Harrison, 26, is a sergeant in the U.S. Marine Corps, and his wife, Amanda, 25, had been looking for work since October, when the couple moved from North Carolina to where he is stationed in California. Amanda had created a petition on asking leaders to reverse the suspensions.

The Harrisons are unsure of how much funding they’ll receive going forward. But even a fraction of what they received before to help John pursue his bachelor’s degree in intelligence analysis would be more than amenable to the couple.

“The question is, what do we do next and what can we expect?” Harrison told ABC News Thursday. “Right now they’re paying nothing, so yes, 75 percent sounds really great.”

“The cost of living in California is a lot higher than it was in North Carolina, so we’ve had to adjust a lot,” Amanda said. She recently found out she will be starting a job soon, but she is also a full-time student, earning her own bachelor’s degree.

One of the benefits John saw in the military was the opportunity to finance the rest of his education.

“There was no money for him to go to college as far as his parents were concerned, and so he wasn’t really sure who was going to pay for it,” Amanda said.

John initially feared he would have to put his studies aside when he heard the Marines were suspending their program, but Amanda was determined that he would see it through. If he deployed or if the couple decided to have children, she expected he would be too busy to take classes.

“My opinion is that we have to try and find some way to make it work,” she said. “If you have time, you need to go to school, and you can’t just keep waiting around.”

A degree will make John eligible for a higher pay grade if he stays in the service, and more attractive to private employers once he leaves, Amanda said.

Amanda’s petition received over 42,000 signatures in less than three weeks. She said the response had been overwhelmingly supportive, with military mothers, spouses and even veterans writing to tell her how the tuition assistance program made a difference in their lives.

“It’s so valuable,” Amanda said of the program, “and my family and a lot of other families, we sacrifice a lot as far as other income we could have and our own family as far as where can we live, what can we do, when can we do it, time with our family…”

“[Tuition assistance] is a huge benefit…It’s something that we all really appreciate.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Paul Ryan Says Obama’s Policies ‘Project Weakness’

Gerardo Mora/Getty Images(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) -- Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan sharpened his criticism of President Obama’s leadership as commander-in-chief at a rally in Colorado Springs, Colo., Wednesday evening, telling this military-friendly crowd that the president’s policies “project weakness abroad.”

Obama's proposals to cut defense spending, Ryan said, would scale back missile defense and directly cost Colorado almost 18,000 jobs.

“Of all the things that Mitt Romney and I differ, disagree with President Obama -- we need a strong military!” Ryan said.  “We believe in peace through strength.  We believe that when America’s military is strong, America is safer."

“These defense cuts that he is promising, these devastating defense cuts that he is promising not only undermine our peace, not only undermine our security, they compromise jobs right here,” he said.  “These devastating defense cuts will cut things like our missile defense.  And you know what?  It probably should come as no surprise, because when Barack Obama was running for office he said that he didn’t believe in missile defense.”

This goes back to Bob Woodward’s recent book, The Price of Politics, which explained that the $1.2 trillion sequester element of the deal to increase the debt limit in August 2011 was the White House’s idea.  Although members of both parties ultimately voted for the Budget Control Act, Republicans blame the president for coming up with it.

House Republicans voted twice to replace the defense sequester, while the Democratic Senate has not.

Ryan then recounted a candid moment Obama shared with former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev during an open-mic moment at a summit in South Korea last March.

“This is my last election.  After my election, I have more flexibility,” Obama told Medvedev at the time.

That plea for space didn’t sit well with Ryan.

“He was talking to the Russian president when he thought no one was listening.  He said he needed more flexibility for after the election,” Ryan said as the crowd booed.  “Mitt Romney and I want to be very clear with you.  We value and respect your mission here and we believe in and support missile defense and missile defense is necessary to keep us safe and we will not allow that to go through.”

“Please know that when we gut our military as the president is proposing -- when we equivocate on speaking up for our values overseas, our freedom, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom for women and women’s rights and individual rights -- when we do this, we project weakness abroad,” he said.  “And when we project weakness abroad, our enemies are more willing to test us, they are more brazen and our allies are less willing to trust us and that will not happen under a Mitt Romney administration because we believe in peace through strength.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Thanks Military Heroes at Fourth of July Celebration

JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama paid tribute to America’s men and women in uniform Wednesday night as he kicked off the White House Fourth of July celebration, telling service members gathered on the South Lawn that they “represent what is best in America.”

“You serve under our proud flag.  You and your families sacrifice more than most of us can ever know -- all in defense of those God-given rights that were first put to paper 236 years ago: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” he said.  “So as your commander-in-chief -- but also as an American -- I want to invite all of you over to say one thing: Thank you.”

The president saluted this “generation of heroes” for its service and sacrifice.

“I want you all -- our men and women in uniform, our veterans and their families -- to know this: America will always remember.  We will always be there for you, just as you’ve been there for us.  That’s my promise.  That is America’s promise.  And that is one that we pledge to fulfill on this Independence Day,” Obama said.

The president and first lady welcomed service members and their families for a barbeque and concert at the White House and, of course, to see the fireworks.  Families braved the sweltering heat to enjoy the celebration and meet the president.

“Are you hot?  It’s supposed to be hot.  It’s the Fourth of July,” Obama, dressed down in khakis and a polo shirt, said at the top of his brief remarks.

“Today, all across America, at schools and beaches, and in town squares, Americans are celebrating the freedoms that all of you and your families defend.  Like many of them, we’re grilling in the backyard,” he joked.

Hot dog and hamburger stands were set up on the South Lawn.  Cotton candy and popcorn were also on the menu.  Children enjoyed face painting and balloon animals and, later that night, guests were treated to a concert by country crooner Brad Paisley.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


GOP Candidates Veer Off Campaign Trail to Give Thanks

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The 2012 Republican presidential contenders spent Thanksgiving off the campaign trail and around dinner tables with their families.

And for the first time in recent memory, GOP candidates suspended political attacks on their opponents and President Obama in favor of a unified message of “thanks” to U.S. military service members and their families around the globe.

Former Massachusetts governor  Mitt Romney, who is celebrating the holiday in California with his family, called on Americans in a statement to “never forget that our peace, prosperity and plenty have been hard earned by countless men and women who have put country before self.”

Sounding a religious note, Herman Cain expressed gratitude to God, offering “special thanks for our men and women in uniform, past and present.”

“We thank them for the many sacrifices they have made -- including their lives -- to protect and defend our American way of life,” Cain said in a statement.

In an email to his supporters, Ron Paul said one of the things he’s most thankful for this year is the generosity of donors and volunteers who have made his campaign “a force to be reckoned with.”

“In fact, right now, polls are moving in our direction in key early states, and even the establishment media is being forced to take notice!” Paul wrote in the most political message offered by a presidential candidates Thursday.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, who was with her family in Minnesota and will appear Friday at the Mall of America for a campaign event, noted the “bountiful opportunities and lives we have been blessed with.”

“This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the magnificent nation that we call home: The United States of America,” Bachmann wrote on her website.

Among the “blessings” Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he’s counting are “the love of family, the sacrifices of our military, the freedoms of a great nation.”

“We are thankful for the many people we have met as we have traveled our country this year,” Perry added, referring to his time on the campaign trail.  The governor spent tThursday in Texas and attend a college football game in College Station.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was in Florida Thursday, credited the safety of the general public on this Thanksgiving with the U.S. military.

“Callista and I hope everyone in uniform and their families have a happy Thanksgiving and can be reunited as rapidly as possible,” he said.

Echoing Gingrich, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also extended a “special message” to service members stationed abroad: “We are grateful for your service and sacrifice and that of your families,” he said in an email.

Santorum will hold a “Faith, Family and Freedom” town hall meeting in Meredith, N.H., on Friday.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama Calls Troops on Thanksgiving

Pete Souza/White House(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama says he will spend Thanksgiving Day “eating great food, watching a little football, and reflecting on how truly lucky we truly are.” And foremost among the blessings the president says he counts are the thousands of men and women in the U.S. military who are fighting to defend the country overseas.

In his weekly address, delivered early in honor of the holiday, the commander-in-chief praised all Americans who have volunteered to serve.

“To all the service members eating Thanksgiving dinner far from your families: the American people are thinking of you today,” the president said. “And when you come home, we intend to make sure that we serve you as well as you’re serving America.

“We’re also grateful for the Americans who are taking time out of their holiday to serve in soup kitchens and shelters, making sure their neighbors have a hot meal and a place to stay,” he added. “This sense of mutual responsibility -- the idea that I am my brother’s keeper; that I am my sister’s keeper -- has always been a part of what makes our country special. And it’s one of the reasons the Thanksgiving tradition has endured.”

Tracing the roots of Thanksgiving to early celebrations of “community during a time of great hardship,” Obama invoked the faith and perseverance of participants in those meals to encourage Americans struggling economically to do the same.

And Obama voiced optimism -- on a day symbolic of “unity” -- that the paralysis of the political process in Washington can be overcome.

“With all the partisanship and gridlock here in Washington, it’s easy to wonder if such unity is really possible,” Obama said. ”But think about what’s happening at this very moment: Americans from all walks of life are coming together as one people, grateful for the blessings of family, community and country.

“If we keep that spirit alive, if we support each other and look out for each other, and remember that we’re all in this together, then I know that we too will overcome the challenges of our time,” Obama said.

The White House said the president called 10 military service members -- two each from the Army, Air Force, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy -- Thursday morning to thank them for their service in Iraq and Afghanistan and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio