National Guard explains eligibility for new G.I. Bill
July 15, 2009
ARLINGTON, Va. (July 14, 2009) -- Citizen-Soldiers who do not qualify for benefits under the new Post-9/11 G.I. Bill should explore opportunities available from their individual states, Guard officials said.
"Title 32 status ... is not qualifying service under the current provisions of the law" regarding the new GI Bill, said Blaine Coffey, the National Guard Bureau's chief of Personnel Readiness and Compensation.
As things currently stand, the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill applies to Guard members who have served in federal Title 10 status, not Title 32 or state active duty.
The new G.I. Bill that goes into effect Aug. 1 boasts the most comprehensive education benefits package since the original G.I. Bill was signed into law in 1944 and Coffey described it as "an exceptional range of benefits and entitlements for our Soldiers and Airmen."
"Under the secretary of Defense's provisions for compensatory-based benefits, all National Guard members that were mobilized after 9/11 ... receive the same entitlement for the performance of service," Coffey said. "It was to simplify as much as possible the eligibility and ... also to broaden the eligibility."
Many veterans - including many National Guard members - who served 90 days on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, receive tuition and fees, a new monthly housing stipend and $1,000 each year toward books and supplies. These benefits are applied incrementally for time served, whether active component or as a Guard member mobilized.
Servicemembers who meet certain eligibility requirements also have the option of transferring benefits to spouses and/or children. Check www.gibill.va.gov for more information.
Guardsmen who only served in Title 32 status do not qualify for the new benefits, said Bob Clark, assistant director of Accesion Policy for the Department of Defense.
However, that may change in the future, because "we do plan to have this in our 2011 legislative agenda to take to the Congress," Clark said.
Title 32 service does qualify Guard members for many state entitlements that are not available to servicemembers in other components of the military, such as the U.S. Army Reserve who serve solely in Title 10 status.
"Those members that are in other reserve components are not subject to call-up by their state governors," Coffey said. "Therefore, they do not have a range of entitlements and benefits that many Guardsmen [have]. They would only have the Title 10 benefits and entitlements."
If you are a Guard member who has served in Title 32 status or in the Active Guard and Reserve program but not under Title 10, consult your state about education benefits, which vary significantly.
"Each of the state legislatures has prescribed various educational entitlements and benefits to our members," Coffey said. "The range of entitlement is pretty significant."
The Post-9/11 G.I. Bill is complex, officials said, adding that Guard members should seek information available at www.gibill.va.gov to fully understand the entitlement.
"One of the compelling issues in the National Guard is a system of record to ensure that a member does qualify when they go to apply," Coffey said. "The key issue here is to ensure that the National Guard has properly documented and ensured the member's eligibility with their orders."
Many Guard members also have extensive education benefits stemming from the Montgomery G.I. Bill, Coffey said. "In many cases, we have members that are well-served by the existing provisions."
(Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill serves with the National Guard Bureau.)