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News Link • Veterans and Veterans Affairs

Pentagon is Now Deploying Reservists and Refusing to Pay Promised GI Bill Benefits

• DC Clothesline

One of the reasons many potential servicemen join the armed forces, in the first place, is the promise of future educational benefits. Now, it seems, the government is at it again, and it appears many reservists are finding out the hard way that what they've been promised, they may never receive.

According to Task and Purpose, an "obscure deployment code, a measure the Pentagon created in 2014 to scale back spending on benefits," deployed reservists have been prevented from earning credit towards their GI Bill educational benefits. In other words, the soldiers' deployments won't get them any educational benefits when they get home. "By law, reservists involuntarily mobilized under Title 10, section 12304b, do not receive credit for the GI Bill while they are activated," Task and Purpose reported.

Marine Sgt. William Hubbard, currently deployed overseas in Honduras, isn't just any reservist. He's also a soldiers' advocate and serves in his civilian role as the Vice President of Government Affairs at Student Veterans of America, a national veterans advocacy group focusing 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, Task and Purpose writes.

Hubbard said, "Reservists serve their country like any other component, and they have to balance civilian employment, education and the military…And to say they don't rate the full benefit? It doesn't add up."

Under Title 10, section 12304b, at least 1,780 reservists have been deployed and will not receive GI Bill benefits for their service time overseas. A Marine reservist from Cleveland, Ohio, Sgt. Mark Wong, said he was frustrated after learning his service to his country did not deliver full benefits. He said, "Once I heard about the exemption, it blew my mind. We work the same hours as active duty people doing the same job. The government is saying our sacrifice isn't worth as much as it is for those on active duty. But we leave behind families and our civilian careers too."

Wong needed those benefits in his civilian role in criminal justice, explaining he'd planned on getting an advanced law degree to further his career and earn bonuses.

Hubbard, too, like Wong, had planned on earning an advanced degree, desiring to get an MBA. Now he says, "At this point, I have to take a step back to assess the financial viability. This would make the difference between doing it or not…Now I have to decide between starting a family or my education, and not both."

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