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A Vet Writes to State Legis. About Vet Ed Cuts

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To: Wisconsin Legislators:

I am extremely disappointed in your proposal to cut Wisconsin Veteran’s Education Benefits, but I’m not terribly surprised.  

As a current VA Medical Clinic out-patient, I have seen the sad, steady stream of Iraqi amputees and “new guys” upset with the VA-promised health care services. As a 56-year-old Vietnam vet, I have seen my benefits cut every year to give more money to “the system”, as it is now packed to the gills with new out-patients. The way I see it, State of Wisconsin Veterans' Education Benefits are an important input solution to a potential state prison, homelessness, or now high-risk group “suicide” problem! Take care of them when they are a bit down...and maybe they’ll step up and lead Wisconsin.

Being honorably discharged in 1973, I stand to lose all Wisconsin (along with Federal time limited) Education Benefits with your proposed cuts. In 2006, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from UWGB. It cost me $16,000 in loans. I did manage to qualify for one semester at half-price tuition. I am paying it off at $68.00 a month...and lucky. Many in my graduating class had much larger loan burdens. 

Because I am one of the few success stories from VAMC-Tomah’s substance abuse treatment program (5.5 years of sobriety), I wanted to give back and go to NWTC for an AODA Counselor Certificate. I really am not bringing enough in to take on more debt for tuition and books, so I guess some richer person will have to fill my space. That counselor certificate will be something I won’t obtain. Someone else will have to do it--or not. I will continue to help vets who have turned to drug abuse as a layman. All the druggies and junkies I don’t help will be eligible for the other Wisconsin categories they will definitely fall into: homelessness, prison, suicides, or maybe they will just maintain their habits in some sustainable criminal endeavor.

Money is rarely a problem when it comes to building prisons or killing people in third-world countries ($9 billion a month to war in Iraq). Remember when they thought Saddam Hussein was in that Bagdad restaurant back in 2003? Instead of sending just one cruise missile into the restaurant, we sent forty! At a million dollars a piece! Oh, he wasn’t there, either. Nobody complains about the money wasted on killing. Most of our Wisconsin prisons are new-looking.  

State legislators have a responsibility to Wisconsin to make good, prudent budget decisions. Please vote with your head. I campaigned, strongly support and voted for you. I don’t expect you to do everything I want. But, hey, if you don’t spend money on schools, opportunity, hope, and future youngsters who will become our leaders, then please spend it and some more state money on Wisconsin prisons and our criminal justice system. You know the math. 

Personally, I hope I’m wrong about this disappointing turn in my future hopes. I’m sober, go to church, vote and pray. I know that I’ll be okay.


With deep, trusting respect,

Philip Livingston

Wisconsin Marine Vietnam Veteran

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Son of a truck driver and a waitress. Born in an industrial town near Chicago. Marched in the Chicago Cavaliers Drum and Bugle Corps, American Legion and VFW National Champions. Marine Vietnam Veteran, divorced, unemployed, sober for almost 6-years.
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A Vet Writes to State Legis. About Vet Ed Cuts

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