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Can I Still Use My GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I am trying to find out if I am able to use my GI Bill/college fund. I went active duty Army in 1987- 1990 I was activated for Desert Shield/Storm in 1991. I was honorably discharged. Then in 2004-2007 I went in to the Ohio Army National Guard and helped with Hurricane Katrina. In 2007, I was honorably discharged. Where would I find out if I am still able to use these benefits or am I past the time frame to use them? Thanks!

A: You may be past the time frame to use your benefits. From your active duty with the Army, you would have had the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) if you had signed up for it and made the $1,200 contribution. Unfortunately, that GI Bill has a 10-year shelf life, so depending on when you were discharge from the Army, it may or may not be expired. The 10-year countdown starts on the date of your discharge. If you are still within the 10-year mark, then you have 36 months of education entitlements. If you are past the 10-year mark, then your 36 months have expired and you have nothing.

As far as your National Guard time, you had the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) only for the time while you were in the National Guard. Once you are out, your MGIB-SR benefits expired. Right now, your Hurricane Katrina service does not count toward the GI Bill because it was not Title 10 ordered service. There is a legislative bill in Congress that would count this time for GI Bill purposes, but it would have to pass first and right now that is not too likely.

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