27 February 2003

The Honorable Jim Nussle, M.C.
United States Representative
Chairman, House Budget
309 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20515
The Honorable Don Nickles
United States Senator
Committee Chairman, Senate Budget
SD-624 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D. C. 20510

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The Fleet Reserve Association (FRA) is extremely disappointed with the Administration's FY 2004 budget request reducing appropriations for Impact Aid. Once again, the target is to eliminate funding for military and civilian B students who reside off federal installations. And, once again, the Association must protest such a thoughtless attempt to undermine a quality of life program our Nation's Armed Forces members anticipate will continue while deployed overseas at the will of the President.

One cannot forget the damage to the morale of our service members during the Nixon Administration. A number of schools barred their doors to the children of military families even to the point of denying some the opportunity to graduate a month before the close of the final semester. The schools impacted heavily with military-sponsored children have been and continue to be dependent on Impact Aid funds to provide quality education for our service members' sons and daughters. If the President's request to deny funding to the schools is adopted, 240,000 students, whose parents live off base, will suffer as will the morale of their uniformed parents.

The rhetoric does not match reality. Itís wrong to praise our service members while suggesting the Nation can ill-afford to fund their children's education. Fortunately, in the number of previous calls for a reduction in Impact Aid appropriations for military and civilian B students, Congress has stepped forward accepting the responsibility to fulfill a commitment to the men and women manning the Nation's defense structure. The Association asks Congress to again provide adequate funding to assure our service members they need not worry about their children's well-being and, instead, concentrate on the formidable "job at hand."

Your support for the Association's request to fund Impact Aid for military and civilian B students, as well as those in category A, will be appreciated by the valiant uniformed members now serving in foreign lands. They look to Congress to alleviate fears that their families back home are not being cared for by the very government deploying them overseas. In addition, 135,000 members of FRA, all serving in or retired from the United States Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, extend their gratitude for the support offered by the Committee over the years.

Sincerely,
JOSEPH L. BARNES
National Executive Secretary

JLB:cam:teg