Clarification on GI benefits
Having deployed as an officer in both the active and Reserve components, and as a former staffer who helped Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., pass the 2008 legislation that authorized the Post-9/11 GI Bill, I feel some complaints made in "Post-9/11 GI Bill problems" (letter, Jan. 15) deserve a response.
The writer laments that servicemembers who receive Student Loan Repayment may not be eligible for this new and greatly improved GI Bill. He neglects to mention that in return for receiving loan repayment, these troops must renounce, in writing, their future GI Bill eligibility.
Rather than being "heavily biased toward career and active-duty soldiers," as he claims, the Post-9/11 GI Bill actually treats both components equally. Each day, month or year of active duty in support of contingency operations earns the active member and reservist alike the same amount of Post-9/11 GI Bill eligibility. The previous Reserve benefit, REAP, only granted eligibility based on reservists’ longest active-duty tour — not on their cumulative active service, as the Post-9/11 GI Bill does.
If the writer feels that more active-duty servicemembers receive full benefits, he is correct, since the active component also shoulders much more of the war burden, providing more than two-thirds of the overseas manpower since 9/11. His claim of "most" serving "at least a year and a half … in a war zone" is untrue for reservists (fewer than half have), but would be true if said of the active force.
As for the writer’s partisan political shots, and the Department of Veterans Affairs’ lack of fight in the bill negotiations, it should be known that President George W. Bush’s Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs fought the passage of this bill fiercely on Capitol Hill, until it became clear that its overwhelming congressional support would allow it to pass regardless. Their reason? Fear that too many troops would actually use it.
Capt. William EdwardsCamp Arifjan, Kuwait