By Rick Maze – Staff writer
Posted : Monday May 11, 2009 16:42:54 EDT
Defense personnel officials are feeling a little defensive over complaints from people who won’t be eligible to transfer GI Bill education benefits to a spouse or child. “As with any new program, there always will be an implementation date and, unfortunately, some will have missed it,” Pentagon spokeswoman Eileen Lainez said.
The key date for transfer rights under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which allows career service members to share all or part of their benefits, is Aug. 1, the effective date of the new program. Anyone who retires or separates from the military before Aug. 1 may still use Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits for themselves but will not be able to transfer benefits to anyone else.
“The statute, as enacted, was designed to promote recruitment and retention of the armed forces, and therefore requires an individual to be a member on or after Aug. 1, 2009,” Lainez said. Some won’t take no for an answer. The Fleet Reserve Association, for example, is asking the Defense Department to relax the eligibility rules.
In a May 7 letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joseph Barnes, the association’s national executive director, speaks of “growing resentment” among “some recently retired and soon-to-retire” service members who won’t be allowed to share benefits because they won’t be in uniform Aug. 1.