LPP 07-06-February 2007
MONTGOMERY GI BILL (MGIB-SR)
SELECTED RESERVE ENHANCEMENTS
Congress re-established the GI Bill in 1984. The MGIB, codified in Title 38, Chapter 30, was designed to stimulate All-Volunteer Force recruitment and retention and to help veterans readjust to the civilian world on completion of their service.
The Selected Reserve MGIB program was first codified under Chapter 1606 of Title 10 as a recruiting and retention incentive, and because of this post-service benefits were not authorized.
Guard and Reserve members may be entitled to receive up to 36 months of MGIB-SR education benefits. This benefit not only had a positive effect on the individual, but the military benefited by having an educated force. The bill also served as a key recruiting and retention enhancement.
At the beginning of MGIB until the late 1990s, Reserve MGIB benefits maintained proportional parity with the basic active duty program, paying nearly 50 percent of active duty benefit rates. Yet, the GI Bill has not kept pace with national military strategy and force deployment policies.
MGIB-SR began to erode as a benefit at parity just as the active forces began to be deployed more, and thousands of Guard and Reserve were recalled or mobilized to provide operational support.
An attempt to rectify the growing gap between reserve and active duty benefit rates established a new Reserve MGIB for reservists activated for more than 90 days for a contingency operation as Chapter 1607, Title 10 USC.
To qualify for Chapter 1606 a Reserve Component member must enlist or reenlist for six years. Members eligible for Chapter 1606 if activated can switch to Chapter 1607 GI Bill, which pays a set percentage of the Active MGIB (Chapter 30), based on duration of service.
Service members usually have 14 years to use their MGIB-SR benefits from the time they become eligible, and end when a Guard or Reserve members stops drilling. If a Reservist stops drilling after being activated he or she may switch back to 1606 for a period equaling the length of deployment plus four months. Active Duty recipients have 10 years after separation to use their benefits.
The incremental manner in which Chapters 30, 1606, and 1607 have evolved has led to inequities in educational benefits. Based on their service in the Global War of Terrorism both at home and abroad, today’s military reservists deserve enhancements to their eligibility under the MGIB for Selected Reserves.
Those enhancements include:
- All GI Bill funding and administration belongs under the jurisdiction of the Senate and House committees on Veteran Affairs where veterans’ education is the first priority.
- Improve MGIB-Active to allow deployed Reservists to qualify by accumulating active duty time.
- Begin eligibility when the service member elects to use the program the first time.
- Increase MGIB-Selected Reserve to 47 percent of MGIB-Active.
- Include 4-year as well as 6- year reenlistment contracts to qualify for MGIB-SR.
- Continue MGIB eligibility of Reservists who are involuntarily transferred pay to nonpay and continue to maintain qualifying years.
- Stipulate that RC personnel can use their education benefits while mobilized.
- Transfer unused benefits for career servicemembers to family members.
- Allow use of the MGIB benefit to pay off student loans.
ROA urges Congress to support Selected Reserve education reforms for all Reserve Component personnel.