Congressman Tom Latham says the Army has "short-changed" a group of Iowa and Minnesota National Guard members. Latham has sent a letter to the Secretary of the Army outlining his complaints and calling for an investigation.
Latham contends the soldiers in the Minnesota Army National Guard’s 134th Brigade Combat Team, including soldiers from Iowa, were in Iraq for so long, they’ve qualified for the education benefits for full-time soldiers.
The unit was deployed to Iraq in March of 2006 and spent over two-years on active duty. This unit served longer in Iraq than any other active, guard or reserve unit in the entire U.S. military, but Latham says the military "inexplicably" wrote out orders for about half of the soldiers that were less than the 730-day duty period written on the orders for the rest of the troops.
It means those soldiers with the fewer days listed on the military record do not qualify for the higher level of G.I. Bill benefits for college. It amounts to nearly nine-hundred dollars per month for college expenses. By reducing the time on their military record, the Pentagon reduced the amount of college assistance that group of soldiers can receive by $234 per month — and they can’t get it if they leave the military.
If the soldiers had the longer period on their military record, though, they could get that higher level of education benefit for 10 years, whether they stay in the military or not.