As the war in Afghanistan draws to a close, the talk among the service branches has focused on “trimming the fat” in order to downsize their forces. Specifically, the soldiers who have engaged in the last 11 years of multiple warfronts and a continued cycle of deployment may be forced to discharge.
On Jan. 31, the Army will announce approximately 4,000 Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs), specifically E6-E9, who will be ineligible for re-enlistment. As the wife of a Senior Enlisted servicemember that decision stings … a lot. However, there isn’t a lot of time to sulk about what is happening because it is happening, and fast — and being a military family you need to make decisions as soon as possible.
One of those decisions involves the Post 9/11 GI Bill Transfer Education Benefit (TEB), which allows servicemembers to transfer their GI Bill school money to one of their dependents, such as their spouse or their child.
According to a new Army ALARACT message, once that date hits the calendar if your Soldier is one of the 4,000 he (or she) will no longer will eligible to do a GI bill transfer to you or your children. Because the transfer benefit is a nice to have, not an entitlement, it will be one of the many casualties of the Qualitative Service Program (QSP), the program formed last year to aide leadership in identifying NCOs for involuntary separation. In a memo dated March 13, 2012, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Gen. Ray Odierno, and Sgt. Maj. Raymond Chandler stated, “Tough decisions are ahead. Some fully qualified Soldiers will be denied reenlistment….Commanders must carefully assess their Soldiers and ensure only our best Soldiers are retained to meet the needs of our Army.”
From the ALARACT message:
(Soldiers identified by the QSP Board) “…will no longer be eligible to transfer their chapter 33 (Post 9/11 GI Bill) benefits to their dependents if they chose not to do so PRIOR to 31 Jan 13.”
If you believe your Soldier will be on that list, you need to make some choices as a family to prepare yourself — and fast. With less than 10 days left to make a choice regarding the education benefit, I would advise weighing which member of the family would most benefit from utilizing the funding for education.
Life after the military can be a worrisome topic, especially after our families have given so much, but getting a proactive plan in place in regards to education, finances, and career options can leave your family feeling more secure. Your education may be an integral part of building a solid foundation for your future, but you must act now. Through research, resource sharing, and creating a sound after action plan, our military families can support one another through an uncertain time while utilizing the vast amount of programs in place for the new reality for some.
Don’t know how to transfer? Learn all about it here.
For alternative sources of funding for military spouses’ education, visit my military spouse education page.
Editor’s note: Hate this new policy? Love it? Let your congressional representatives know what you think.
Bianca Strzalkowski is a proud Marine Corps wife of 11 years and serves as the Deputy Director of Membership for Blue Star Families, a non-profit military service organization that serves all military families, regardless of branch, rank, or duty location. Additionally, she serves as an Organizational Advocate for the American Military Partners Association to encourage the expansion of support programs to include all military families. She is currently stationed at MCAS New River with her husband and 3 children