Post-9/11 G.I. Bill eligibility gets a reprieve

A restriction in Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits for family dependents of service members, scheduled to start Friday, has been delayed at least until January. That's welcome news for families of military personnel with more than 16 years of service.

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, who represents the Second District and thus many families attached to the Naval Submarine Base in Groton, as well as veterans from all branches, led the charge to delay implementation of the rules. His successful argument, in a bipartisan letter to Acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper that was signed by 29 members of the House Armed Service Committee, has delayed the restrictions from going into effect before House passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.

Courtney and others are seeking to derail the change permanently with an amendment to the  NDAA. As written, the rules would require at least six years of service before a request to transfer benefits to a dependent family member, followed by a mandatory four additional years. The stated goal has been to increase retention by eliminating eligibility after 10 years with no further service required. The logic of cutting off the benefit after 16 years has perturbed Courtney and others because it the longer one serves, the greater the eligibility should be.

A benefit that can be earned in 14 years but is cut off at 16 seems like bureaucracy at the expense of people who serve their country as a career. Let's hope that the proposed rules fade out, and if changes are needed, they would make better sense.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Tim Cotter, Staff Writer Julia Bergman and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.

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