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Even With an Honorable Discharge, Can I Still Lose My GI Bill If I Also Have a General Discharge?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I joined the Navy 09/1999 and immediately opted for the MGIB. My first reenlistment was 03/2006, at which time I received my first Honorable Discharge. During my second term of enlistment, I was administratively discharged for Failure to Maintain Physical Standards; however, I was given a General Under Honorable Conditions. At that time, my Personnel Department said that regardless of my first Honorable Discharge, I would lose my MGIB. Is this still the case? Or would I still be eligible? And if I am not, are their any waivers that I may seek?

A: Not true. If you qualified for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) at the time your first reenlistment ended, then you have, and can use, your GI Bill.

Should you choose to do so, you would be able to switch to the Post 9/11 GI Bill, because you had enough qualifying time after September 10, 2001 to establish eligibility at the 100% level – 3 years.

One other thing is if you have not used your Montgomery GI Bill and still have 36 months of benefits left, you could switch to the New GI Bill and after you have used up all 36 months of benefits, get your MGIB $1,200 contribution back. Or you could use up all 36 months of MGIB and get an additional 12 months of benefits, however, in this case you would not get your $1,200 contribution back.

You had asked about waivers in case you did not qualify. While there aren’t any waivers, there is a process to appeal your General Discharge – it’s called the Discharge Review Board. Each military service branch has one.

To get a discharge reviewed and possibly upgraded, you start the process by submitting DD Form 293 to your branch’s Discharge Review Board. It is your job to prove to them why your current discharge is wrong and should be corrected. In the case of the Army, only about 43% are actually changed to Honorable. So there is a process to follow if you think you can support your case for an upgrade.

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