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Do I Have a Recourse to Get My GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I contributed to my GI Bill in 1987-88, and then received a Gen/Hon Discharge in 1990. I was informed that even though I contributed to the fund, I could not receive the benefits because I did not receive a Honorable Discharge. I then reenlisted in the Reserve/Nat Guard in 2003-2009. I am told I have no educational benefits for that enlistment as well? Is there any recourse?

A: What you were informed about regarding your GI Bill and your discharge is true. To qualify for the Montgomery GI Bill, you had to have one enlistment ending in an honorable discharge during that time you were in. As far as your Reserve GI Bill, those benefits ended when you were discharged. However, even if you would have stayed in the Reserves for 10 years, they would have expired at the 10-year mark anyway.

As far as a recourse, you could have one . . . did you deploy while you were in the Reserves or National Guard for six years? If so, that could be your saving grace; if not, you are out of options unless you get your discharge upgraded to Honorable.

As long as you deployed for at least 90 days on a Title 10 order in support of a contingency operation, and that ended in an honorable discharge, you could get 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits at the 40% level. If you deployed for a normal one-year tour, the percentage goes up to 60%. While that is not a lot, it is more than you would otherwise get in your situation with your other two GI Bills.

Under the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the VA pays your tuition up to your percentage, you get a monthly housing allowance and a book stipend once per semester, both paid at your Post 9/11 GI Bill percentage.

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