Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) reintroduced legislation, H.R. 925, that will ensure military reservists will receive Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits as intended by correcting an unintended issue that has negatively affected reservists when reporting for active duty.
“Our veterans and reservists deserve to receive the benefits they have earned without unnecessary complications,” said Rep. Calvert. “Our reservists make themselves available on short notice to contribute to our national security. Now it’s our turn to come to their aid by making this common sense fix to their Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.”
Under current regulations, an individual who is released from active duty status may begin receiving the Post-9/11 GI Bill Monthly Housing Allowance (MHA) on the first day of the month following the date the individual is discharged. In addition, an individual who is released from active duty status may begin receiving their tuition and fees benefit on the first day of the enrollment period following the date the individual is discharged and begin receiving their books and supplies stipend on the first day of the month following the date the individual is discharged.
However, there are cases in which a Guard or reservist’s required monthly active duty would disqualify those individuals for the MHA benefit. Many reservists are required to routinely perform their jobs in a Title 10 status due to their specific job requirements and functions. These commonly include aircrew, intelligence personnel, and UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) and Remote Piloted Aircraft operators. While not in a drill status, or if in a drill status under Title 38, an individual is entitled to their MHA and book allowance. When in a drill status under Title 10, the individual is entitled to the housing allowance, but only for the first portion of the month up to when they entered active duty under Title 10. Therefore, if an individual goes on active duty on the first day of the month for three days, the individual does not receive any housing, or book allowance payments for the rest of that entire month. Just one day of Title 10 service can result in forfeiture of MHA and book allowance for all or most of the month.
In order to maintain a Combat Mission Readiness state and proficiency at their job, some have to commit to a minimum of four training days a month in a Title 10 status. Many Guard and Reservists using their GI Bill benefits will be reluctant to volunteer for three to four day missions to ferry troops, equipment, and supplies into an Area of Responsibility knowing they will lose all or a portion of that month’s MHA. Many reservists are full-time students and rely on their MHA to pay rent, but as a result of the current rules they are denied their full MHA causing many members to incur thousands of dollars of debt. This is compounded by the fact that members of the reserve are used more frequently due to the increased tempo of operations around the world.
The legislation introduced by Rep. Calvert essentially prorates the MHA for the portion of the month the service member is not on active duty. The bill amends Title 38, United States Code, to clarify the eligibility for monthly stipends paid under the Post-9/11 Educational Assistance Program for certain members of the reserve components of the Armed Forces. By easing restrictions on volunteers, it will increase the number of volunteers and the frequency of volunteerism while limiting the potential for personnel financial issues to arise. Most importantly, this bill seeks to enhance reserve components’ military readiness during high tempo operations.