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Gates supports enhanced GI bill

May 21, 2008 at 5:59 PM

WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates supports an enhanced GI bill, but thinks some of the proposals may discourage an all-volunteer force, the Pentagon said.

Gates is "greatly encouraged" by the support enhanced educational benefits for veterans enjoys and considers the legislation moving forward "extremely generous," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Wednesday.

"We have no issue with the fact that it is generous. We think our troops deserve to be rewarded for their service," Morrell said.

Some of the bills moving through Congress may hurt retention by offering educational benefits after just two years of service, Morrell said. Gates supports enhanced benefits after six years of service to reward service members re-enlisting at least once.

"We are not trying to keep people here forever, but we are trying to create a system in which troops see the benefit of making a career out of the military," Morrell said.

Gates says he will work with Congress on a revamped GI bill, but "in a way that does not jeopardize our national security," Morrell said.

The secretary said it was "absolutely imperative" that a new bill allows service members to transfer unused benefits to spouses and children, the spokesman said.

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