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Amend those orders!
Posted by: McQ on Sunday, October 07, 2007

This sort of nonsense irritates the living hell out of me:
Nearly half the members of one of the longest serving U.S. military units in Iraq are not eligible for a more generous military educational benefit, with some falling one day short of eligibility.

The Army has agreed to review the status of the Minnesota National Guard's 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division, with an eye toward improving their educational benefits.

All 2,600 of the soldiers, who returned this year from Iraq, are eligible for money for school under the GI Bill. But nearly half discovered they weren't eligible for a more generous package of benefits available to other soldiers.
Why? Because their orders for deployment were cut for 729 days. The requirement for them to be eligible for the more generous package of benefits?

730 days.
Under the GI Bill, two categories of educational benefits are available to Guard soldiers: one for those who have served less than two years and another for those who have put in more time. Among other things, the latter benefit provides as much as $800 per month for full-time training while the former provides $282.
As noted this particular unit is among the longest serving US units in Iraq. Many of these soldiers served 20 consecutive months or longer, on active duty as part of the 1st Brigade Combat Team. They're Guardsmen, so they also trained up for a number of months before deploying.

You just don't play games like this with people who have served that long, done everything asked and more. I have no idea if the original orders were deliberately cut to be one day short. If they were, that's just shameful. But I do know from years of experience that all orders were made to be amended. And I think we all know what the proper amendment for these orders should be.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

Yeah, that is absolutely the cheesiest, chicken sh$t thing I have heard of in a while.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Let’s face it we all know what happened... The president asked - "How much will it cost to extend these units in Iraq?" So Gen. P. asks his staff - "How long can we extend these units with minimal cost?"... The chain goes down and somewhere in a personnel office someone returns a date - a date that is the day before the 730th of deployment for this unit as the cut off before costs increase dramatically. No one else in the chain questions the details and the people in at the top of the chain say - "sounds good let’s return them on that date." - without really understanding why the costs would increase.

The troops affected on the other hand spotted this almost immediately and almost certainly notify their chain of the issue. Of course, that portion of their chain had to work with their equivalent level civilian staff in the personnel department and weren’t making any progress (it’s on paper that’s the LAW).

Result troops draw attention to problem in the press which gets immediate attention of those at the top of the chain who made the original decision without understanding why the costs would go up with one more day. They don’t like the net result and now things will change - Bureaucracy At Work.
Written By: BillS
URL: http://
I’d like to see all of these soldiers get the two years of consecutive service benefits. I think they did a hell of a job in Iraq. But something doesn’t add up in these news stories or I’m missing something.

According to this Star Tribune article:
Although all 2,600 soldiers from the "Red Bull" 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division served the same amount of time, about half received orders for 729 days or fewer while the rest of their colleagues received orders for 730 days.
It also says that the time on active duty was 22 months, though I’m sure there are some who did a little more or less than that. I could be mistaken, but I believe that the 22 months also includes the training time prior to deploying to Iraq.

My time in the Army Reserve ended almost twenty years ago, so this is a bit hazy. But I’d swear it was time actually served and not the time that was allowed on orders that mattered when it came to military records. For example, I might have been authorized for up to 30 days of active duty, but if I only served 14, that’s what went on my service record. Is that not actually how that works? If it is, how does the one day difference in orders matter if they all served the same amount of time? If they all served 22 months, why would they expect to automatically receive a benefit that by statute only kicks in at 24 months? And if they all served 22 months, then how did some become eligible for a benefit that kicks in after two years but some didn’t?

Like I said, I’d like to these soldiers get the two year benefit, no argument there. It just seems that something doesn’t add up with how this is playing in the press.
Written By: Dave E.
That is sh!tty. We really ought to treat all veterans better.

Just by luck I got an email today from the Fund for Veterans Education, and they are providing scholarships to "veterans from all branches of the United States Armed Forces who served in Afghanistan or Iraq since September 11, 2001 and who are now enrolled in college or vocational-technical school."

Their deadline is Oct 15th for next years Spring term.
Written By: Keith_Indy
Like Dave, I think something doesn’t add up and we need to wait to learn more.

I will say however that such a big jump at a cut-off point just begs for this sort of problem. 729 vs 730 focuses outrage, but what if it were 720 or 705 days?
Written By: abw
I’m still not positive, but I think I see what the issue is. According to this site, if a soldier is ordered to active duty for 2 years(730 days) and then released early for several reasons, in this case "Convenience of the government", they are still eligible for the higher education benefit if they served at least 20 continuous months. Orders for 729 days must(I’m speculating) technically disqualify a soldier from the higher benefit since he/she wouldn’t have been called up for "2 years".

Bill S. is probably on the right track with how it happened, though I suspect a bean counter in the Pentagon more than "Gen. P.". I’m pretty confident that these troops will be taken care of.
Written By: Dave E.
Dave and Bill S. seem to be ignoring this inconvenient piece of information (amazing how a few ugly facts can destroy a perfectly good conspiracy theory):
Although all 2,600 soldiers from the "Red Bull" 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division served the same amount of time, about half received orders for 729 days or fewer while the rest of their colleagues received orders for 730 days.
My only question is, gosh — however did those big meanies at the Pentagon ever decide which half of the Red Bulls to cheat out of their education benefits???

It’s the damned decisions in life that get you. But then no one ever said saving money was easy, did they? If it were, *everyone* would be doing it!

what if it were 720 or 705 days?

Actually in many cases it was. The actual number of days half of the Red Bulls were short ranged from 1-12.

As so often happens, the facts are a good deal more complicated than the spin.

Written By: Cass
URL: http://
There’s a difference, Cass, between something done on purpose and something done on purpose with malice.

This reminds me of a lady I knew who was moving with her husband for a training TDY that was *just* short enough that he wasn’t authorized to move his family. They were moving everyone anyway on their own dime because twice before in his career in the Navy he’d gone on one of these moves only to have them extended three months and even another three months... well past the cut off for taking his family had the original orders been accurate.

The reasoning to cut the orders below the time limit wasn’t *malice* or trying to screw the family. I *think* she said they’d try to file for moving expenses after the Navy did what they expected (with reason) for the Navy to do.

In this case, anyone... ANYONE... cutting the orders for active duty had to have known that 730 days was significant and that 729 days was significant as well. Money would be the answer. Maybe they were counting on some retroactive fixes.
Written By: Synova
Cass-The articles I read were not clear on why 729 vs. 730 days mattered, considering that most of these troops served 30 to 60 days less than that anyway(mobilized 9/2005-demobilized 8/2007 and stated as 22 months). That’s why I didn’t understand the issue at first. And describing the military bureaucracy as it exists is hardly making it out to be a conspiracy, that’s just the way it works. I’m not sure what your point is.
Written By: Dave E.
I am willing to bet that whoever made the decision to cut the orders for 729 days has either spent some time testifying before a Congressional committee making the usual fuss about Defense Dept. waste, fraud, and abuse, or works for someone who has. I believe the word for today is ’whipsaw’.
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

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