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Is It True Reservists Lose Their GI Bill Once They Are Discharged?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: Hello, I was an Army reservist from the summer/fall of 2008. I was deployed to Iraq in 2003-2004 and I left the Army in the fall of 2004. I just spoke to someone at the VA and was told a reservist has to use the GI Bill while they are drilling, otherwise they lose everything. PLEASE help, this is NOT how it was explained to me during my military career. Thanks much!

A: If you are talking about the Montgomery GI Bill – Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), what you were told is true. The Reserve GI Bill, as it is sometimes called, expires either 10 years from when you receive your Notice of Benefits Eligibility (NOBE) letter or upon your discharge from the Selected Reserves (which includes the National Guard).

Fortunately, though, you have at least one other GI Bill (the Post 9/11 GI Bill) and probably two (the Montgomery GI Bill-AD). Let’s look at the second one first.

If you signed up for the Montgomery GI Bill-AD (MGIB-AD) when you first enlisted in the Army and had $100 per month deducted from your pay for the first 12 months, then you have this GI Bill. It expires 10 years from your last date of discharge from active duty, which should be in 2014.

Because you have at least 90 days of service after September 10, 2001, you also have the Post 9/11 GI Bill. You may or may not have full 100% eligibility depending on when you got out in the fall of 2004. If it was after the September date, you are fully eligible; if before the September date, then you have 90% eligibility. Under this GI Bill, you have up to 15 years from your last date of discharge from active duty (2019) to use or lose these GI Bill benefits.

People are often confused between the two Montgomery Bills, because the term “Montgomery GI Bill” or “MGIB” is often used interchangeably, but the rules governing each are as different as night and day.

Relax, you have at least one GI Bill you can use now and into the near future. If you have the MGIB-AD, you can transfer your 36 months of eligibility to the Post 9/11 GI Bill to extend out the amount of time you have to use up those 36 months. If you don’t have the MGIB-AD, then you can use up your Post 9/11 GI Bill as it now stands.

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