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If I Get Out on Chapter 5, Will I Lose My GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am 35 weeks pregnant and I am looking to get out on a Chapter 8. My chain of command did not counsel me until the last minute. Now it is crunch time and it might be too late to get out on a Chapter 8 because I need to be separated 30 days prior to my due date, which takes me to next Tues. I don’t have orders or clearing papers yet. Seems impossible. So they offered me to get out on a Chapter 5 – parenthood chapter. Will I lose my benefits? Will I have to pay my reenlistment bonus back? Legal does not even have answers for me. I want to make sure I do not get pushed over in this situation.

A:  With a Chapter 5, there are two types of discharges authorized – Honorable and General. If your command gives you a General, you lose your GI Bill education benefits. With an Honorable you keep you GI Bill months of entitlement so you can go to school. Ask them what their intent is as far as the type of discharge they plan to give you.

I can’t comment on whether you will have to pay back your reenlistment bonus or not as that is not my area of expertise. However, I do know in certain situations, it may be pro-rated and you could possibly have to pay a portion of it back. You would have to talk to a Reenlistment NCO or Career Counselor for a definite reading.

Also, if you do end up with a General discharge, you can appeal it by submitting DD Form 293 to the Board of Corrections. There isn’t a guarantee they would change it to Honorable, and it can take up to six months to get a decision, but at least it is an avenue to try. Hopefully, you will get an Honorable and not have to worry about it.

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