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Stars and Stripes: Public outcry revives tuition assistance for troops

My New Years resolution advice to servicemembers this year is to use their TA in 2014. It’s free money in a program that might not be a mainstay of military benefits forever. 2013 was certainly a battleground year for it. The program survived, but the cracks are starting to show in its foundation. In the future the Navy is considering curtailing the 100% assistance the program currently provides, and the other branches are already tightening their programs.

How the world media sees it

It’s common to hear the international media call the fiscal cliff a “manufactured crisis” and refer to the spending cuts as “austerity measures.”

I suppose the US media also commonly talks about it as a manufactured crisis, but with the international media’s coverage there seems to be a bigger sense of bewilderment and confusion. It’s perplexing on why any nation would do this to themselves. Whether BBC, CNN International or other outlets The media feels a constant need to explain it, or attempt to explain it to their international audience.

Words to the effect of  ”please explain this to our viewers who may not understand the American political system,” are said commonly by the international anchors bantering with the US reporters during the newscast. The anchors ask this as if American viewers understand the political system or whats going on any better.

But overall the entire context takes on the feel of holding the US accountable for the troubles in the world economy.  The anchors seemingly take on the role of the father explaining to the son he can’t get a new toy because the bad man at work (American Government) didn’t give the father raise.

Austerity became a popular word in 2012. The US media referred to it plenty when talking about spending cuts in European countries like Greece, Ireland, and Spain.  But when referring to the ongoing budget impasse/situation/crisis in the US, spending cuts are never referred to as austerity, simply as spending cuts.

What is it about the expression “austerity” that is good to use to describe a situation in a foreign country but not good parlance to describe a similar situation in the US? Is the word “austerity” to scary for American viewers to digest as a word that applies to the US? In any case, the international media calls it how they see it, and the potential spending cuts in the US are often referred to as austerity measures.


An International Media perspective on the Fiscal Cliff… They call it a “manufactured crisis” and refer to the spending cuts as “austerity measures.” (For some reason US media only uses the expression “austerity measures” to refer to the situation in other countries.) Also the International media takes on a more critical view in holding the US responsible for turmoil in the world economy because of these “manufactured crises.”

Electronic links help troops deployed over the holidays - News - Stripes

Electronic links help troops deployed over the holidays

Spc. Clarence Primm keeps in touch with his family on Facebook and Skype, while using his iPad in a lounge of the Installation Housing Office at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait — It’s nearly impossible to walk across the installation housing office building at Camp Arifjan without seeing a servicemember using a phone, computer or tablet device to keep touch with people back home.

This time of year, “love you” and “miss you” are commonplace as background noise. But soldiers here do as soldiers have done for centuries, when away from home: drive on.

Pvt. Tyson Gremillion and his wife, Mandy, were going to celebrate their son’s first Christmas this year. Gremillion said his wife “flipped her wig” when she found out about his deployment to Kuwait. “But we’re doing OK,” he said, after finishing a Skype call. “She is getting used to it.”

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Gremillion joined the Army in July and is fresh out of Army Individual Training, where he learned to be a cable maintainer and installer. Kuwait is his first duty station and he arrived this week.

“Jobs were hard to come by,” explained Gremillion as the reason for joining the Army. He needed to support his family, and while the Army has its emotional sacrifices, he says financially he’s doing “a lot better” than he was.

“It could be a lot worse, like back in the old days when all we had was writing [letters],” said Gremillion who is optimistic that, because of technology, he will be able to talk to his wife often.

Camp Arifjan fills a number of functions, mostly administrative and logistical, for the roughly 13,000 U.S. soldiers in Kuwait.

Not everyone is preparing for Christmas away from family. Spc. Clarence Primm is getting ready for a trip home and hopes to make it in time to spend Christmas with his wife and two kids. “They are excited. They are counting down the days on Facebook,” said Primm.

Primm has missed four Christmases with his family, including last year. “It takes a lot, but they understand it’s my job, it’s what I do.”

Primm has been in Kuwait since June and qualifies to take a rest and recuperation trip to spend Christmas with his wife’s family in Augusta, Ga. He will be back after New Year’s to finish his yearlong tour in Kuwait.

But on his mind right now is on Christmas breakfast with his family, and whether he should let his kids open one present on Christmas Eve.

“I’m ready to go home,” he said. “Being with my family is the only thing I really care about.”

Teacher Salute

On most days it’s US Servicemembers and police who put their lives on the line for our country and the protection of others. But yesterday that task seemingly became the responsibility of teachers, who apparently stepped up to the calling in a horrendous situation that you expect only in places like Afghanistan rather than in an elementary school classroom in Connecticut. Today I salute Teachers.

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