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Why Do Soldiers Who Fought for Their Country Lose GI Bill Benefits?

Author Ron Kness is no longer in the service.

Q: My husband was 3 months past the 10-year mark for the GI Bill and he lost it. I would like to know why a soldier who fought for his country would lose his benefits?

You know, I have never agreed with delimiting dates either, but the fact of the matter is that is what Congress wrote into the law when they created each of the GI Bills. They obviously had some intent in mind as all the GI Bill throughout the years have had delimiting dates. The Montgomery GI Bill actually had two dates, depending on when the servicemember enlisted. Before one date, it was 14 years. After that date, it was 10 years. Now the Post 9/11 GI Bill has a delimiting date of 15 years.

Because the GI Bill’s education intent is for the veteran to get an education, my speculation for delimiting dates is they are there to provide a prod, or a reason, for the veteran to use his/her GI Bill sooner, rather than later (and possibly risk losing the benefits). If used within the delimiting date period, they can get their degree and start a career.

Generally veterans lose their education benefit due to three reasons:

  • time slips away and before they know it the delimiting date has passed;
  • many veterans claim they never knew (or if they were told, don’t remember) the GI Bill as having a delimiting date;
  • many veterans are under the impression they just need to start their schooling before the delimiting date, instead of have used up their benefits before that date.

Regardless of the reason(s), I agree it sucks, however, because it was written as Congressional legislation, they are the only governing body that can change it.

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