The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 15, 2013

Military Rethinking Leads to Hard Choices

(Continued)

It's been a popular program.

Army Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg told the panel his service had stopped new applications, having spent $200 million so far in fiscal 2013. The Army had $383 million budgeted.

In the future, Bromberg added, "I think we can probably take at least $115 million in savings in this program and still turn some back on, but probably not to the same extent that we have it today."

Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower, said the service had about 115,000 participants. The program was cut off before it used up this year's $198 million.

"We're going to re-evaluate it" for next year, Jones said, but adding, "realistically we're going to have to adjust the program to lessen the budgetary impact on our Air Force."

Others have begun to lobby.

Wallace Boston, president of American Public Education, whose company has just reported that 37 percent of its students are from the military, said in a statement that his firm wants "to make sure that you are aware of the other options you have for financing your education so that you can make a decision that is right for you and your family."

He added that he would "join the ranks of those lobbying to reinstate the benefits to which you are entitled."

Jones said his service is also reviewing studies done last year to determine the future "right size" for Air Force Lodging. The 88 Air Force Inns at 95 operating locations — with 30,000 visiting quarters and 3,500 temporary living facilities — are maintained primarily for active-duty military. They are mainly for personnel on temporary duty or families involved in a permanent change of stations. Many are in what would be considered resort areas.

As Jones said, "The capability for military members and retirees to stay in lodging on a space-available basis while traveling on personal business or vacation has long been recognized as a satisfying benefit to both the traveler and Air Force Lodging." But: "It is clear that sequestration and the reduction in travel will affect our lodging operations."

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