By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (July 08, 2013) -- Beginning Aug. 1, 2013, every Soldier who elects to transfer their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to a family member will incur an additional four years in the Army, without regard to their time in service.
The policy already applies to nearly every Soldier in the Army -- and has since the beginning of transferability in 2009. Until now, Soldiers who were nearing retirement were eligible for certain exemptions from the policy. That will no longer be the case. This policy change affects them.
"This policy was drafted in 2009 and takes effect Aug. 1, 2013. It is important that we inform Soldiers of this existing policy regarding the Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits," said Lt. Col. Mark Viney, chief of the Enlisted Professional Development Branch, Army G-1.
That news comes in a message to military personnel, dated April 15, 2013.
The rule largely affects senior officers and enlisted Soldiers who are retirement-eligible. As of now, these Soldiers may be able to transfer benefits to their loved ones with anywhere from zero to three years of additional service.
Soldiers who are not retirement eligible, electing to transfer their GI Bill benefits to a family member means committing for an additional four years.
Beginning Aug. 1 that rule will apply to all Soldiers, whether they are retirement-eligible or not.
"The Post-9/11 GI Bill. Soldiers are entitled to the benefit for their own use, but to transfer to dependents: that is used as a recruiting and retention tool," said Viney.
Viney also serves as the policy proponent for the Army's Post-9/11 GI Bill Transfer of Education Benefits Program.
"We want Soldiers to be informed of the impact of this policy," Viney said. "This is going to impact their decisions and their families, and whether or not they are going to have this money available to fund their dependent's education."
Veterans Affairs, or VA, also has eligibility requirements for transferability. A Soldier must have six years of active duty in order to transfer his GI Bill benefits.
In some cases, if a Soldier has incurred additional time in service in order to transfer GI Bill benefits to a family member, and is afterward unable to serve that additional time in service, he or she may be required to pay back those benefits.
Viney said that as the Army draws down, some Soldiers will be involuntarily separated under force-shaping initiatives. Soldiers who are separated early under such circumstances and who had previously transferred their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to their dependents may retain the transferred benefits, without needing to repay them to the VA.
Soldiers who were retirement eligible after August 1, 2009 and before August 1, 2012 and who are considering transferring their benefits to their dependents should review their service obligation before doing so. All Soldiers will incur a four-year service obligation after August 1, 2013 if they transfer their benefits to their dependents.
Soldiers with questions about transferring their Post-9/11 GI Bill education benefits to their dependents should contact their approving official.