Army Senior Enlisted? Better Transfer that GI Bill Now


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

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15 Comments on "Army Senior Enlisted? Better Transfer that GI Bill Now"

  1. Jill sowder | January 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm |

    Good luck! Once papers are sent and approved (about 5 months for us) transferring the benefit to spouse/child, when you apply for that person to actually use the benefit it takes about another 6 months to get approval for payment.Total paper time (with lots of phone calls/emails) from the time my husband applied to actual payment from the VA for education benefits took about a year! University payment was due July and school started the begining of September and we finally saw money on October 31! We found out after the fact that once approval of benefits certification is obtained the university will wait for their money! Check with the school you are applying to! Good luck, it is definately a process :)

  2. at least with the army look into waviers one of the big things they face with the transfering of benefits is that they will not have time left in service enough to allow it. so you have to get a waver and while that is easy you have to stay on top of the person doing it.

  3. Okay maybe im just slow, but isnt this saying its only for a select few, like the 4000 # they listed above? I am a wife of an e5, my husband has been in for 3 1/2 yrs but did an re-enlistment just recently for 6 more years. I am a full time student but I dont have any access to his GI bill nor will i ever think I will. I have been attending the past 2yrs on financial aid and so I still receive thru "welfar" my college free. I havent used Mycaa only because the process seeems complicated lol- of course id like the 4000k but why deal with the drama if i dont need it – maybe another family does. I want my son to have college being we plan on being in for career so does this mean hes not going to have GI bill in 13yrs when he turns 18?

    • Actually Autumn, MyCAA was one of the easiest processes I have ever dealt with when paying for college, it was even easier than registering my son for college. I was approved within 2 weeks and each course that I took was approved within days of submitting the Financial Aid request. Its worth it if you qualify as E5 is the last rank your husband can reach and you be allowed to use the benefit. I say go for it.

  4. According to the new DoD policy, all servicemembers are REQUIRED to take TAP class prior to separation. It would seem to me that the soldiers affected by this policy would not be given the opprotunity to attend TAP class. TAP is the only way the VA feels they can educate servicemembers about their GI Bill benefits. Therefore, anyone who did not transfer their benefits, because they did not think they would be RIF'd, would have a solid case to take to the Army Board of Corrections. I would fully support anyone wishing to go this route. I am a Chief in the NAvy Reserves and I also work for the VA. Anyone needing assistance can email me at

  5. Greeting,

    Please review the policy concerning TEB carefully… Unless every service has their own policy, a member has to obligate 48 months of service (after VA approves TEB). For example, I transferred my Montgomery to Post 9/11 GI Bill at 17 years of service. I now have to remain in service for 21 years for my wife/kids to be eligible. If I retire even a day before the "commitment day" it will be null in void and defer back to Montgomery. If my wife was taking classes and I chose to retire before that date I would have to reimburse the VA. Read the fine print!

    Best of luck!

  6. Jim Martibn | January 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm |

    You've used the to your benefit and now you are ready to throw them to the curb.

  7. "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)" A nice to have? this is a benefit the soldier has earned-I can tell you as a Senior NCO in the Army Resrve that many reserve soldiers were not informed of this requirement before they retired as many Reserve Units have a very poor if any preretirement program.

  8. If a soldier falls under the QSP program then strongly recommend allocating at least one month to each child and spouse before 31 Jan. The number of months can be increased or retracted but cannot be started after the end date.

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