What You Need to Know About the Montgomery GI Bill

Posted in Uncategorized on February 13, 2017
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Members of the U.S. Armed Forces have earned many benefits with their honorable service, and the chance to continue their education after completing their commitment is among the most beneficial. While there are stipulations and various options to consider, the main takeaway is a very large potential return on one’s investment. To participate in the GI Bill, servicemembers pay $100 for 12 months during their active duty, with the potential What You Need to Know About the Montgomery GI Billreturn of $66,000 to be used towards their education at a later date.

The Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) is an education benefit for servicemembers that can be used during or after active duty to help pay for college degree and certificate programs, technical or vocational courses, flight training, apprenticeships or on-the-job training, high-tech training, licensing and certification tests, entrepreneurship training, certain entrance examinations, and correspondence courses. Often referred to as Chapter 30, servicemembers who choose to use the benefit can receive up to $1,857 monthly (multiple that by 36 academic months or four years of schooling, the benefit is worth up to $66,000).  If you’re still on active duty, you can contribute an additional $600 to the GI Bill to receive up to $5,400 additional benefits when you activate your benefits.

The MGIB is good for 10 years after honorable separation, and after the benefit expires, you will lose access to any potential benefits as well as your initial $1,200 investment. Other eligibility requirements include having completed high school or an equivalency certificate before applying, having served at least two years active duty, and having met additional VA requirements.

Once you’ve found a school that has a VA-approved training or education program, and have applied for your GI Bill benefits online using the VA's VONAPP program, you may be contacted by the VA to submit additional information; it typically takes 4-8 weeks to hear back on a final eligibility decision. Once you’ve been approved for your benefits, your monthly payout will depend on your duty status as well as your student status (full-time, half-time, or part-time). Additionally, you’ll need to complete the VA's Web Automated Verification of Eligibility (WAVE) process each month to continue to receive your monthly direct deposit payments.

Although you can begin to use this benefit after two years of service, the monthly payment while on active duty can be substantially lower than after you’re no long active duty. Be sure to check with your Education Service Officer before using your GI Bill or taking any college classes to make the most of your time and investment.

The VA also offers the Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR) for reservists with a six-year obligation in the Selected Reserve who are actively drilling, including the Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Air Force Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve and Coast Guard Reserve, and the Army National Guard, and the Air National Guard. This benefit has similar academic prerequisites, but applicants must also have completed their initial active duty for training (IADT) and remain in good standing while serving in an active Selected Reserve unit. Although your eligibility ends on the day you leave the reserves, if you are discharged from service due to a disability that was not caused by misconduct, you will remain eligible. Additionally, your eligibility period may be extended if you are ordered to active duty.

It’s important to note that the MGIB is substantially different from the Post-9/11 GI Bill (Chapter 33), which requires that the applicant have served at least 90 days of active duty service after September 10, 2001 and have received an honorable discharge. It’s important to discuss your education goals with your Education Service Officer before applying and choosing the GI Bill that best fits your needs.

Written by Megan Hammons

What You Need to Know About the Montgomery GI Bill

2 Responses to “What You Need to Know About the Montgomery GI Bill”

  1. Carolyn Ewy says:

    January, 3, 1976, I enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in Wichita, KS. I had my physical, and the doctor checked me with no mental or physical problems to report to my recruiter to keep me from my service to the United States military.
    I went into the service at the end of the Viet Nam War knowing it was an unpopular war. I lost many friends because of my choice and their disagreement with it. I understood what I was going into because I had two brothers who had served in the Navy during the height of the Viet Nam War, and my dad had enlisted in WWII when he was seventeen.
    Even though I knew I could not serve in combat as a woman, I knew there were other duties I could perform to assist those who were in combat. After testing for my military occupational skill (MOS), my recruiter told me I qualified for any MOS I chose and the reserve unit could support. I chose the MOS 74F, computer programmer.
    My recruiter told me MOS 74F was in high demand because of the need to clean up after the Viet Nam War. The personnel records were not automated; and, because of the inconsistent personnel records being kept by each army and reserve unit, often times the records would not match and thus cause delays getting personnel to the field.
    I began my basic training in April, 1976, at Ft. Jackson, SC. I was 5’ 7 ½” and barely 115 lbs. I thought that was not a barrier for me since I was also determined and persistent. Being one of the oldest at 23 years old, I was made one of the leaders in my barracks for the younger women. I taught them how to clean, organize, iron and polish their shoes. My drill instructor (DI) also asked me to teach 2 women how to take care of their personal hygiene. His method of teaching hygiene was to have the women of the barracks throw them both in the shower. I disagreed with him and other leaders of the barracks with his method. I explained to him that both women were mentally handicapped and should not have been allowed in the military. I also protested his method as being mentally and physically harmful. He agreed, and he pursued my argument that the 2 women should never have been allowed into the military and discharged them from military training.
    I only mention this incident because of the fact that many doctors and recruiters were looking the other way during the Viet Nam War era, and they were allowing persons with mental and physical defects to participate in training for the war. The popular coined phrase, “I Got Mine”, pushed recruiters to enlist personnel no matter what the danger to the person or the unit. I know this because I saw these incidents time after time when I worked Active Duty for Training (ADT) after I completed my MOS training and worked in this area in the Hoffman Bldg. in Alexandria, VA, called the Reserve Enlistment Program (REP) Section. REP Section worked out of the Office of the Chief, Army Reserve (OCAR) during the years of 1976 to 1977. Later we were transferred to Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPERS), still out of the Pentagon, working in the Hoffman Bldg. in Alexandria, VA, from 1977 to 1979. Little did I know that I might be one of those persons that doctors ignored to identify as having physical defects even though they were putting my life and the lives of others at great risk.
    During my enlistment and service with OCAR and DCSPERS, we worked many long hours and weekends. Although we were considered ADT, we created new methods to automate calculation of the former “White Book Session” when reserve units revealed the number of personnel needed based on sex and MOS. Formerly, this was a manual tactic written in a white book passed up through the ranks of each army, and a group from each army used the numbers in the white book to determine how many personnel of each sex and MOS each unit in each army could recruit.
    We saved the Army Reserve many hours by automating these tasks, but the long hours of sitting at my desk, the programmable calculator and the keypunch also revealed eye, neck and back strain and IBS issues for me. Although the IBS issues were not diagnosed at that time, I was sent to the infirmary at the Pentagon and Ft. Myer for tests for ulcers and my gall bladder numerous times because the doctors were not able to diagnose IBS.
    I was also sent to the infirmary at the Pentagon numerous times for my neck, back and eyes. Having lifted over 25 lbs. when I was in basic training at Ft. Jackson, the doctors at the Pentagon infirmary informed me my weight limit should have been less than half that amount because of my neck and lower back issues, and I was given physical therapy and medicines, including ibuprofen multiple times a day, to try to reduce the muscle strain and swelling in my neck and lower back.
    Headaches were a constant for me, and it was diagnosed as just eye strain. Even though I was prescribed glasses different times, the headaches got worse. At one point, the doctor at the Pentagon infirmary ordered X-rays after discovering a spot in one eye. He ordered me to be checked by the doctors at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) where I checked in for 10 days during 1977. One of the doctors at WRAMC ran a CT scan and discovered intra-cranial brain calcification, and many other lab tests were run on me while I was there.
    After being released to the doctor at the Pentagon infirmary, the doctor informed me I was to be checked every year by WRAMC for the intra-cranial brain calcification. I continued to have severe headaches; and, I checked in again in 1978 for a recheck, but the doctor did not do a CT scan and reported no findings.
    After a physical, I was honorably discharged from ADT in April, 1979; and, I enrolled to continue my college education but was unable to get the GI Bill. Being out of the military about 2 months and seeing rings around lights, my parents convinced me to see my family ophthalmologist. The doctor discovered a cataract on my right eye in July, 1979, when I was 26 years old. By September, 1979, I was unable to see the target out of my right eye when trying to qualify with my weapon in my Army Reserve unit camp training; and, by November, 1979, I was totally blind in my right eye and unable to see the big “E” in the ophthalmologist’s office. He scheduled me for surgery in February, 1980, after I got insurance from the university I was attending.
    I was unable to get a lens implant in 1980 because of the age restrictions which limited the implants to those over 65 years of age. Because it was only one eye with a cataract, the doctor put a contact lens on my right eye after surgery; and, in just over a year after my first eye surgery, my right eye required another corrective surgery setting up the beginnings of scar tissue and glaucoma to gradually erode my vision.
    In 1983, the contact lens began to wear on my cornea setting me up for the possibility of a cornea transplant. My ophthalmologist threw my contact lens away and told me he was scheduling me for a lens implant since the FDA had just lowered the age to 18 and I was now 30 years old. The lens implant gave me 20/20 vision without correction for just a short time then vitreous humour began to leak and two laser surgeries were performed by the end of 1983. That totaled 5 surgeries in less than 4 years; and, I was a single mom of 1 child, abandoned by my son’s father when I was pregnant with him, and paying for our insurance and medical bills. I was prescribed glasses with bifocals to correct my vision in my right eye.
    In 1984, I was laid off from my job of 3 years as a computer programmer. I worked there after I graduated with a Bachelor of Science with emphasis in Data Processing from the university I had attended from 1979 to 1981. Still a single mom with many eye and health issues, I had no insurance for my son and myself. I was able to get a job within a month of being laid off, and I made my first application to the Veterans Administration for health benefits.
    In 1985, after being employed only a few months as a computer programmer, the company I worked for went bankrupt, and I was unemployed once again. I was also denied health benefits by the VA and was paying over $400 a month to COBRA for health insurance for my son and myself because I had pre-existing health conditions.
    Still in 1985, I began work again as a computer programmer after 1 month of unemployment and worked there for 13 years with continuous problems in my eyes, neck, lower back and IBS until I was laid off in 1998. During that time of 13 years, I was treated by many chiropractors and prescribed muscle relaxers and ibuprofen for the pain and swelling by my primary care physician (PCP).
    Starting in 2001 my PCP referred me to a gastroenterologist for my severe stomach pain and IBS that I had also endured while I was in the military; but, because I had taken so much ibuprofen for my neck, back and headaches, the stomach pains were increasingly more painful. In 2007, I was referred to a different gastroenterologist who discovered a hiatal hernia and extensive bleeding in my stomach from all the ibuprofen and also determined I had IBS C/D after completing an endoscopy and colonoscopy.
    In the years 2010 through 2012, I had eye pressures out of control and as high as 40. Each year of those 3 years brought a different eye surgery because of the glaucoma and scar tissue in the right eye: first, placing a shunt in the drainage canal; then, a shunt at the top of the right eye for drainage; and, finally, a stent to the back of the right eye because scar tissue had closed off the shunts.
    I do not regret my years in military service. I am proud that I was able to perform my duties to the best of my ability. The Veterans Administration denied the GI Bill when I got out of the military in 1979. I was denied Veterans Benefits in 1985 when I was having eye surgeries after a cataract was diagnosed only 2 months after I was honorably discharged, and I have once again been denied Veterans Benefits being physically disabled at 63 years old. I have appealed the VA’s decision.

  2. […] in funding to be able to hire more support staff, as well as a reduction in federal red tape in utilizing the G.I. Bill. These steps would allow more focus and support to be turned to the veteran him or herself, […]

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