Congressman Bruce Braley is among those pressing the Pentagon to release more records to ensure guard units in other states aren’t going through what some in an Iowa National Guard unit discovered upon returning from nearly two years on active duty. The 133rd Infantry Division of the Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion trained for several months and then went on duty in Iraq for 15 months — longer than any other unit in the U.S. military. But nearly six-hundred members of the unit were denied full G.I. Bill benefits for college when their military papers showed they were just days short of the required time to get the benefits.
"Based on the last meeting I had with representatives of the National Guard and the Department of Defense we believe that almost everyone who is eligible for those benefits has now been given a waiver to qualify for them, but we also learned during that meeting that other states besides Iowa were similarly affected and we’re still waiting for documentation from the Department of Defense and the Army are doing to make sure that everyone in this country gets the full benefits they deserve after the sacrifices they’ve made on our behalf."
The problem developed after the Pentagon wrote orders for the Iowa National Guard troops that left them one or five days short of meeting eligibility requirements for the military’s education benefits. Braley is a Democrat from Waterloo, the home of the 133rd and he’s been working on this issue since October. "We received an initial response that had some of the documents that we requested and my staff and I have had a chance to review those and have a follow-up meeting with representatives of the Army and the Department of Defense where we discussed some of the contents of those documents and then requested that some of the documents that weren’t provided by provided as quickly as possible," Braley says.
Braley is a member of the House Oversight Committee and that panel’s members sent a letter to the Pentagon this month about the issue. The committee is asking the Department of Defense to release more documents related to the way the military has cited the length of active duty on soldiers’ military records.