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How Do I Prove My First Enlistment Ended With an Honorable Discharge?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: I reenlisted on my 3-year mark in Iraq. I continued my service and got discharged after 6 years with an OTH. The local VA says that if I can prove my first enlistment was honorable, it will change things with my benefits and all that. Is that true? How can I prove such a thing? In another post, someone posted “The first enlistment, however, was over 36 months and qualifies as a period of honorable service for both GI Bills, Chapter 30 and 33” on June 29th 2010. Is that statement true?

A: To answer your first question, yes, that is true. If you can prove your first enlistment ended honorably (with your dates of service after September 10, 2001) you are eligible to use at least the Post 9/11 GI Bill even if you did not sign up for the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) when you first enlisted.

So how do you prove your first-term honorable service? When you reenlisted, you should have received an Honorable Discharge Certificate – DD Form 256. That certificate alone is evidence enough that you served honorably. However, many servicemembers don’t know the value of this controlled document and don’t keep it in a safe place. Another source of proof is a copy of your DD4 Reenlistment Contract. That document lists your previous periods of service also.

The method used to send copies of either or both proofs of honorable service to the VA is via a Notice of Disagreement letter. There isn’t a prescribed format – just title it as such and in the body of the letter, explain what you are disagreeing with, why and that you have attached supporting documentation. Attach copies of your proof and send it in or work through your local VA Rep or school VA Certifying Official.

The answer to your second question as far as if the post you read about having two GI Bills is true or not … is maybe. If you selected the Student Loan Repayment Program when you first enlisted, then you would not be eligible either GI Bill during your first three-year enlistment.

Why? Because you can’t acquire GI Bill eligibility and have the SLRP during the same period of service. Nor would you have both GI Bills if you declined the MGIB, but you would have the Post 9/11 GI Bill as it is free to you just for your service.

However, if you signed up for the MGIB and made your $1,200 contribution, you would have both GI Bills. Just know that you can only use one at a time.

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