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Sequester Suspends Tuition Assistance For Troops

Tom Banse
Northwest News Network

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. - The Defense Department has suspended a workplace benefit cherished by many soldiers, airmen and Coast Guardsmen. The agency has put tuition assistance on indefinite hold because of the automatic federal budget cuts known as the "sequester."

The paychecks of active duty military are exempt from the across-the-board federal budget cuts. But some of their fringe benefits are not, as we're now finding out.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, I Corps Command Sergeant Major John Troxell says the suspension of tuition assistance stings.

"This was a benefit, not an entitlement."

He says the program offered up to $4,500 per year to pursue a degree while off-duty.

"Unfortunately, with the lack of tuition assistance, our soldiers and airmen are going to have to use more ingenuity for how they get at their education."

Troxell notes the sequester does not affect education subsidies under the GI Bill, which is an entitlement. Veterans usually take advantage of this after leaving the service.

Now semi-retired, Tom Banse covered national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reported from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events unfolded. Tom's stories can be found online and were heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.