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Can I Use My Active Duty GI Bill With My Reserve Honorable Discharge?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I have a General Under Honorable Conditions discharge on my DD-214 from active duty service. Several years later I joined the reserves and received an honorable discharge. Does that allow me access to my GI Bill benefits?

A: Most likely not. Usually to use your GI Bill benefits, you have to have earned the GI Bill benefits during the period you received your Honorable discharge. So if the GI Bill benefits you are trying to access were earned during the period you received your General Under Honorable Conditions discharge, then you would not be eligible to use them.

However, if you deployed during your time in the Reserves, you could have earned some Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits from your deployment(s). A one-year tour would put you at the 60% tier. Deployments totaling three years would put you at the 100% mark. Because you would have earned these benefits during the period of time your received an Honorable discharge, you could use them. See the difference?

One other point – if you think you did not deserve your General discharge, you can file an upgrade appeal using DD Form 293 to the Discharge Review Board of your military branch. The address where to send it is on the form.

If an upgrade is granted (and it can take up to a year to hear back with a ruling), then you could also use the GI Bill benefits you earned while on active duty. There are no guarantees, but if you can prove you should not have received that discharge, it could be worth the time to fill out and submit the form. Good luck!

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