Screwed by the enemy
and our own government
(Stars and Stripes) - Nearly 300 Marines came home from their seven-month deployment to Central America this week. They have a few things in tow — wood carvings from local artisans and the grit of experience responding to Hurricane Matthew, among the world’s worst recent natural disasters.
But the reservists returned without something that most were counting on: seven months of GI Bill benefits.
A relatively new and obscure deployment code, a measure the Pentagon created in 2014 to scale back spending on benefits, is the reason. By law, reservists involuntarily mobilized under Title 10, section 12304b, do not receive credit for the GI Bill while they are activated.
The Post-9/11 GI Bill is paid out by the amount of active-duty time racked up. Reservists say deployments are in high demand in part because education benefits will grow much faster than relying on drill time.
Nearly a million reservists have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001, according to data from the Pentagon’s Defense Manpower Data Center.
Marine Sgt. William Hubbard is one of nearly 600 Marine reservists affected since 2014. He deployed to Honduras in May as part of the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force, a rapid-response unit based in Honduras to strengthen security in the region and respond to natural disasters, like Hurricane Matthew in October.
His civilian job lends him a special perspective on restricting access to the GI Bill.
He is the vice president of government affairs at Student Veterans of America, a national veterans advocacy group that focuses on education policy.
Hubbard said fellow Marines in Honduras are stunned as the word has slowly spread through the ranks. Most incorrectly believed they would receive seven to nine months’ worth of credit for GI Bill benefits, including Hubbard, a benefits legislation expert.
“Reservists serve their country like any other component, and they have to balance civilian employment, education and the military,” Hubbard said. “And to say they don’t rate the full benefit? It doesn’t add up.”Read More . . . .