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Why Is the Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefit Not Being Proportionately Divided Among Servicemembers?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I would like to know why the government believes it’s fair to give full benefits to people who never put their boots on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan after 9/11. What it means is a National Guard/Reserve soldier with an honorable discharge can serve three tours of six to 8 months each and still not equal 36 months needed for 100% Post 9/11 GI Bill. Someone needs to speak out. I not saying this because I want a hand out, I’m saying it because the benefit is not being proportionately divided among those who deserve it…I think …What do you think?

A: What do I think? I think you are severely mis-informed. For one, Selected Reservists (SELRES, which include National Guard and Reserve soldiers) generally deploy for 12 month-tours (at least they do in my Division), not the 6 to 8 months as noted in your question. And many soldiers have deployed multiple times to either or both referenced combat zones.

Two, for SELRES personnel, the Post 9/11 GI Bill is prorated by percentage of time served on Title 10 orders in support of a contingency operation. For example, a Selected Reservist with a one-year Title 10 order would still get 36 months of Post 9/11 GI Bill eligibility, but only at the 60% tier. Their tier percentage goes up 10% with each additional 6 months of Title 10 support contingency service.

By comparison, active duty personnel get 36 months of the Post 9/11 GI Bill at the 100% tier for three years of Title 10 service, but their service doesn’t necessarily have to be in support of a contingency operation. So they could get the maximum of 100% eligibility and 36 months of coverage for three years of service and never leave the United States.

Because coverage for SELRES members is prorated based on amount of time served on contingency Title 10 orders, I think the system is very fair. What would not be fair is if National Guard members and Reservists would get 100% coverage with less than three years served on qualifying orders.

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