Literacy Sponsorship and The Post-9/11 GI Bill
AbstractThis essay argues that the Post-9/11 GI Bill (2008), despite the enormity of its scope, is failing those who need it to ascend in the economic order. The essay supports its position through a rhetorical analysis of several key texts connected to literacy relations between the US government and Post-9/11 veterans: a January 2001 press statement announcing the government’s abandonment of higher education sponsorship; America’s Army, a video game used to attract recruits; The American Council on Education’s “Guide to the Evaluation of Educational Experiences in the Armed Services”; and the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Expanding Deborah Brandt’s notion of “sponsorship” to include both purveyance (providing) and the government’s right of purveyance, this essay explains how the Bill consolidates literacy, particularly through transferability, which allows experienced veterans (those serving or agreeing to serve for a decade) to transfer their education benefits to spouses or children. Initial data about GI Bill use indicate high veteran attendance at for-profit institutions with poor retention rates, veteran confusion in interpreting GI Bill benefits, and bureaucratic tangles resulting in benefit delays. The government did not begin tracking graduation rates of veterans using the Post-9/11 GI Bill until 2013, further evidence that military recruitment and political aggrandizement, rather than democratizing literacy, were the Bill’s primary goals.
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