Rep. Paul Seaton's proposal is an excellent idea. One, it holds military personnel accountable for returning to the state. If you don't return, you will not receive your dividends.
Two, it builds a savings account for when you do return. Many military members do not prepare themselves for re-entry into civilian lives. The rely on terminal leave and have very little savings accumulated. Often we think that employers will be begging for our marketable skills. This is not the case.
Additionally, active duty members make a great deal of money compared to civilian employment. Most enlisted members, when you add up the benefits, make between $40,000 to $60,000. When they get out of the service they are likely to make between $10 and $20 an hour. A huge adjustment is necessary in their lifestyle.
Having a permanent fund savings would provide them with a cushion altogether not a bad idea. Should military members have to return home once a year to be eligible for this? No! They have obligations that prevent them. And if you're stationed on the East Coast you are looking at over $700 for a round-trip ticket. Give them credit for their service and hold them accountable for their return.
Another thing that needs to be addressed is missionaries. They go and serve their church and then return to the state. They lose their eligibility for the dividend and have to re-establish their residency. Serving a mission is valuable to the state. Often missionaries will learn a foreign language and continue their education after they return home. This fosters a mature young man or woman who will eventually give back to their community that supported them.
A good idea would be to add them to the bill and allow them to have a savings when they return so they can re-enter a university without having to rely on student loans. Support them in their efforts and you will receive a return on the investment.
Alaska is in need of people that want to be Alaskans people that do it because they love their state and community. Return to your home state and you will get your dividend.
Thank you, Rep. Seaton.
John Carrico, Soldotna
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