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Beware: Military Dependents Can Be Forced To Repay Their Parents’ GI Bill
In 2012, Sgt. Desmond Watson’s daughter Jordan Bigbee turned 17, and he transferred his Post-9/11 GI Bill to her in the hopes that she’d never have to shoulder a student debt burden.
“When you get the news that someone can pay for your entire college, you're not worrying about anything else," Bigbee told Jacksonville, Florida-based First Coast News, adding that “she felt safe." But the feeling didn’t last.
Five years later, Bigbee is being forced to repay $50,000 to the Department of Veterans Affairs, according to First Coast News, which broke the story Nov. 13.
Service members can transfer their GI Bill benefits to a dependent once they’ve served at least six years in the military, and after they agree to serve a further four years, according to the Department of Veteran Affairs.
But the Army in 2015 cut 40,000 troops from the service, and Watson, in his 17th year of service, was one of them. He was involuntarily separated from the Army, just six months shy of completing the four years he’d incurred for transferring his GI Bill to Bigbee, according to First Coast News.
As a result, the VA determined that the money had to be paid back. After attending Santa Monica Community College in California for three years on the GI Bill, Bigbee has to recoup the tuition and send it to the VA — $50,000 now, First Coast News reports.
“Once you sign that transfer over, you’ve got to serve four years no matter what,” John Karim, the American Legion's assistant director for Veterans Employment & Education Division told Task & Purpose. If a servicemember fails to complete that obligation, “it’s as if the entire eligibility was wiped out and [the VA] will have to collect on everything that had already been used. They’ll recoup the benefits and take them all away if you don’t match those four years.”
A beneficiary or dependent having to repay the VA for an overpayment isn’t an entirely new affair. In 2015, the Government Accountability Office reported that in fiscal year 2014, one in four GI Bill beneficiaries was hit with a bill for overpayments — $416 million owed by beneficiaries attending nearly 6,000 schools.
If you are a veteran or servicemember who transferred your education benefits to a spouse or dependent who has since had to repay those benefits and would like to share your story, email James Clark at James@taskandpurpose.com.
'What happens after that is out of their control' — Former military leaders and lawyers react to Trump's war crimes pardons
On Friday, President Donald Trump intervened in the cases of three U.S. service members accused of war crimes, granting pardons to two Army soldiers accused of murder in Afghanistan and restoring the rank of a Navy SEAL found guilty of wrongdoing in Iraq.
While the statements coming out of the Pentagon regarding Trump's actions have been understandably measured, comments from former military leaders and other knowledgable veterans help paint a picture as to why the president's Friday actions are so controversial.
Raccoon infestations and extreme rust didn’t stop an anonymous buyer from nabbing this Soviet-era submarine
A former Soviet submarine that became a tourist attraction docked adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach is expected to be sold soon to an anonymous buyer, with plans to remove the rusting sub by mid-May.
The 48-year-old Russian Foxtrot-class submarine, known as the Scorpion, had hosted paying visitors for 17 years before it fell into such disrepair that it became infested with raccoons and was closed to the public in 2015.
Former Army 1st Lt. Clint Lorance, whom President Donald Trump recently pardoned of his 2013 murder conviction, claims he was nothing more than a pawn whom generals sacrificed for political expediency.
The infantry officer had been sentenced to 19 years in prison for ordering his soldiers to open fire on three unarmed Afghan men in 2012. Two of the men were killed.
During a Monday interview on Fox & Friends, Lorance accused his superiors of betraying him.
"A service member who knows that their commanders love them will go to the gates of hell for their country and knock them down," Lorance said. "I think that's extremely important. Anybody who is not part of the senior Pentagon brass will tell you the same thing."
"I think folks that start putting stars on their collar — anybody that has got to be confirmed by the Senate for a promotion — they are no longer a soldier, they are a politician," he continued. "And so I think they lose some of their values — and they certainly lose a lot of their respect from their subordinates — when they do what they did to me, which was throw me under the bus."
Fifteen years after the U.S. military toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein, the Army's massive two-volume study of the Iraq War closed with a sobering assessment of the campaign's outcome: With nearly 3,500 U.S. service members killed in action and trillions of dollars spent, "an emboldened and expansionist Iran appears to be the only victor.
Thanks to roughly 700 pages of newly-publicized secret Iranian intelligence cables, we now have a good idea as to why.
A U.S. Air Force combat controller will receive the nation's third highest award for valor this week for playing an essential role in two intense firefight missions against the Taliban in Afghanistan last year.
Tech. Sgt. Cody Smith, an airman with the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, 24th Special Operations Wing at Air Force Special Operations Command, will receive the Silver Star at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico on Nov. 22, the service announced Monday.