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The Army, Air Force and Marines have announced that the Tuition Assistance Program for servicemen and women has been suspended. The Navy is still weighing its options.

The suspension will not affect soldiers who are currently enrolled in courses using the program, but soldiers will no longer be able to submit requests for future assistance.

The Tuition Assistance Program provides financial assistance for voluntary off-duty education programs for our men and women in uniform. Tuition Assistance is a crucial component to helping veterans earn college level diplomas since the G.I. Bill often doesn't cover a full four year degree.

The Tuition Assistance Program provided $375 million to servicemen and servicewomen in 2012. The funding covered 620,000 courses across the country and assisted with more than 4,000 bachelors degrees. If $375 million sounds like a lot of money, consider that it represents less than one-third of one percent of the Department of Defense’s 2012 operating budget.

This is the first time the military tuition assistance program has been suspended since it began in the late 1940s.

Now I understand the need to cut back, to hold the line on rising expenses not only during sequestration but overall to reduce the deficit and stabilize the economy. But this move stinks.

We recruit men and women to serve in the armed forces with the lure of benefits such as the Tuition Assistance Program, among other things, and in return they put their lives on the line in our nation’s defence. We are in their debt. I keep my promises and pay my debts and I expect my government to do the same.

If we can’t afford to keep the Tuition Assistance Program up and running during the sequestration stand-off, how about making some other small, temporary sacrifice to help defray the cost? At the cost of $137 million each, do we really need every one of the 2,400 F-35 jets currently on order?

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