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Could My GI Bill Benefits Be Taken Away?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Sir, I have a serious question. I have been prompted to take a urinalysis. If my urine were to show positive for THC from marijuana use, could I have my GI Bill taken away? I served four years with a spit shine record, and have maintained a 3.3 GPA, so I would not think that marijuana use would be a disqualifying factor. However, I know there is a zero tolerance policy while in the service. The fact that the “Dangers” of marijuana use has been completely blown out of proportion by our government is a fact, but regardless I would just like to know that I will be able to receive my deserved education without worry.

A: I can’t guarantee you will be able to use your GI Bill benefits. If you come up hot on your urinalysis test, the deciding factor will be if your service branch will keep or discharge you and if discharged, what your characterization of service will be. Anything less than fully honorable and you kissed your education benefits goodbye.

What is interesting to note is that you know the rules – you said yourself, “a zero tolerance policy while in the service” – yet you chose to roll the dice and now you may have to pay the consequences. Your four years of “spit shine” record and a “3.3 GPA” doesn’t mean squat, nor does your view on marijuana use. Rules are rules and you made the conscious decision to break them.

But the implications could run deeper. If you do get kicked out, you could also lose your enlistment bonus or kicker, if you have either one as wouldn’t be fulfilling your end of the contract if you are discharged early. The other thing is if you were in my squad or platoon, I don’t know if I could trust you to have my back. If you can’t follow peacetime rules, how will you react in combat?

Rules are for the protection of everyone. If you choose not to follow some, because you think they are stupid or don’t apply to you, then you also need to be ready to suffer the consequences for breaking those rules.

So as you can tell, if you are looking for any sympathy from me, you have come to the wrong place. You know where to find it in the dictionary.

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