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Can My Son Still Use His Post 9/11 GI Bill with One Good Term of Service?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Is my son eligible for GI Bill benefits? He served one successful 4-year enlistment in the Marine Corps. (18 months as a corrections officer and then by request became a machine gunner, infantryman.) He then reenlisted and served for 3 years but was discharged in November, 2011 with a less than honorable discharge, I’m not sure which one. He got in trouble several times, all alcohol related. He will not claim PTSD as a cause of his alcohol use.

A: With one successful 4-year enlistment, his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits are safe and he can use them to go to school. Because he served for at least three years after September 10, 2001 and has at least one three-year term ending in an Honorable discharge, he has the full 36 months that he can use to get a four-year degree by attending four 9-month academic years.

You said “He will not claim PTSD as a cause of his alcohol use” or rather abuse. This can be similar to the debate on which came first – the chicken or the egg. Was your son abusing alcohol before he was deployed? From your question, it seems like he started getting into trouble after his first 4-year enlistment. My point is if he was abusing alcohol before he deployed, PTSD might not be the cause of his alcohol issues.

Has he been diagnosed with PTSD? If he doesn’t have it, then alcohol is probably the source of his trouble. If he does have PTSD, then he needs to get help addressing the issues it is causing. If he has been diagnosed, abusing alcohol is only going to add to his PTSD troubles.

Either way he needs help – either for alcohol addiction or PTSD (or both). There are some pretty messed up veterans as a result of our two wars, however, many are unwilling to get help, seeing it as a sign of weakness and something they can solve on their own.

I know you are trying to help, but until he is ready to face his issues and get help, you won’t be able to force him to go. This is something he has to figure out on his own and it will probably end up being painful for him. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt anyone else before he decides to seek help.

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