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Witness Testimony of Major General Larry W. Shellito, Minnesota National Guard, Adjutant General

As I begin my testimony today I need you to know that I am not here simply as the Adjutant General from Minnesota, nor as a combat veteran, or even as the chief administrator of a state bureaucracy, but rather as a veteran educator with 31 years of experience in postsecondary teaching and administration.  As a nation we continually call for access to quality education and state that our nation’s success is tied to how successful we are in educating our citizens.  As a military, we take that call seriously and for decades have provided various educational funds as a core benefit to our service members.  I myself used these benefits following my return from combat in Vietnam; having access to those benefits helped shape who I have become.  So today I am here to fight for the education support that our warrior citizens have earned through their loyal and dedicated service; a fight that will allow them the same life changing experience afforded me upon my return from combat.

In order to convey the scope of this challenge but yet maintain focus on what we see as its resolution, I have divided this document into three sections:

  1. Statement of the Situation
  2. The Human Factor – A Soldier’s Story
  3. Shaping the Future
  1. Statement of the Situation:

Summary:  Minnesota contends that all members of the 1/34th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) have achieved the intent of the Montgomery GI Bill (MGIB) Chapter 30 benefits, irrespective of the duration stipulated on individual orders.  We ask that all soldiers of the 1/34th BCT receive the VA education benefits they earned through a 22 month mobilization of which 16 continuous months were served in combat. The decision to grant these men and women their earned benefits needs to occur quickly in order for them to make important life decisions.  As a key tool in building and maintaining a total Army force, we as military leaders also need this to occur as it is fundamental to sustaining a ready and capable Reserve Component force. 

Request:  It is essential that these soldiers receive their benefits quickly so that they are able to make timely educational decisions prior to the start of the 2008 spring term.  Therefore, we ask the subcommittee to take any and all actions that are reasonable to help correct this situation in an expedient manner.

To explain the breath of this situation I offer the following facts:

  • 1162 Minnesota National Guard soldiers were deemed ineligible for the MGIB Chapter 30 benefit due to the variability in duration of their tour of duty as listed on their extension orders.
  • Of the 2447 Minnesotans who deployed as part of the BCT, approximately 53% had orders that listed a duration which qualified them for Chapter 30 benefits (730 days), while other soldiers’ orders were listed with a lower number of days (e.g. 729, 725, 718).
  • We estimate that approximately 700 additional soldiers from other states, territories, and the Army Reserves may be affected by this orders issue.
  • When Minnesota soldiers and our estimate of those affected are combined, the monetary impact to the approximately 1800 soldiers is $15 million in lost benefits.
  • Moreover, while all soldiers are eligible for education benefits, the MGIB Chapter 30 benefit offers a 10 year portability option.  Those who receive the Chapter 30 benefit and leave the military can still use the funds, however their “battle buddy” who served with them through a 22 month deployment can use their lower level of benefit only if they remain in the Reserve Components.

Actions:  Attached to this testimony is a document which chronicles the key events and actions related to our identification of the disparity and subsequent efforts to redress and quickly resolve the issue.  The document is labeled “CH 30 MGIB Timeline”.

Discussion of Impact:  The BCT is headquartered in MN, soldiers from 37 States and Territories, the USAR and the IRR participated in the deployment (see list below). This deployment stood out from a GI Bill perspective because of its length.

  • The initial mobilization orders for units comprising this BCT were approximately 608 days; they were then amended to include an additional 125 days to support the “Troop Surge”. 
  • In about 53 percent of the cases orders were amended to a full 730 days, or two years.  In most other cases, orders were amended for either 729, 725 or 718 days.

When Soldiers’ obligated period of service is two years, and serve a minimum of 20 continuous months on active duty, they are given the opportunity to make an irrevocable election between the Reserve Educational Assistance Program, Chapter 1607 and the Montgomery GI Bill Chapter 30 program, so long as their release from active duty was honorable and due to "convenience of the government" which was the case in this situation.

Soldiers with amended orders that read "NTE 730 days" (NTE means 'not to exceed') who were counseled at

Ft.

McCoy were given until November 30th, 2007 to make an irrevocable election between Chapter 1607 and Chapter 30.  

  • Soldiers choosing Chapter 30 are eligible for the "less than three year" full-time rate of $873 per month. The standard $1,200 contribution and optional $600 Plus Up contributions apply.
  • Those choosing the Chapter 1607 benefit received the 60% rate at $645 per month. 
  • Chapter 30 not only provides a higher benefit rate but it also has 10-year portability, soldiers must remain in an active drilling status to receive Chapter 1607.

States represented in the 1/34th BCT (as per Major Troy M. Gipps, National Guard Bureau GI Bill Programs Manager):

’s Present Actions:  Secretary of the Army Geren indicated that the Army Board of Corrections for Military Records (ABCMR) will review the situation and with his guidance execute the appeal process.  We interpreted his comments as a statement of desire to expedite this appeal.  Accordingly, we understood that his office would seek any necessary appeals to accomplish this task. 

The ABCMR declined to review the packet submitted by Minnesota.  Our appeal treated all 1,162 affected soldiers as a “class action”; the ABCMR states they do not have the legal authority to address a collective action, but that each soldier must initiate this appeal.   

Minnesota’s challenge now is in reaching our soldiers and getting them to complete individual applications.  This task is both time-consuming and cumbersome:

  • At the October 12-14 “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” Reintegration Training Weekend in Minnesota, we began to implement supplemental guidance from National Guard Bureau (NGB); we need to complete an appeal packet for each individual soldier.
  • 27% of the individual applications require additional follow up prior to submission to the ABCMR.
  • Each soldier’s submission requires 11 pages of documentation

Thousands of man-hours and resources would be saved if we could address this issue as a collective whole.  Minnesota originally submitted a 43 page document to the ABCMR so as to treat our soldiers in a fair and timely manner; however we now need to send an estimated three Army footlockers full of eleven page documents for all 1,162 soldiers.  Add in the other 700 soldiers who may be impacted and you can include another two footlockers full of documentation that the ABCMR will review and process.  We are working to comply with the requirements for individual submissions, but the possibility to have soldiers slip through the cracks is great and the administrative burden on our soldiers and their leaders is excessive. 

Recommendation:

  1. We request that the ABCMR accepts

    Minnesota’s original submission and that it acts favorably on our request to redress this issue.

  2. We encourage all civil and military leaders to encourage our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to not delay enrollment in education programs. 
  3. We ask that, as the National Guard is an Operational Force and no longer a Strategic Reserve, eligibility for benefits be updated to reflect the dynamic nature of today’s conflicts and the role our Reserve Components are playing in the cause of freedom, Homeland Defense, and service as Warrior Citizens.

    2.  The Human Factor – A Soldier’s Story:

    It is my pleasure to introduce Sergeant Benjamin Lee Hatton of Company C, 1st Battalion, 194th Armor.  Sergeant Hatton is not in uniform today because as you will hear in the following story he rapidly went from completing his advanced individual training, to war.  His Class A uniform fits a 160 pound private and is not suitable for a physically fit, 205 pound combat-tested and proven Sergeant.

    Sergeant Hatton joined the Minnesota National Guard in 2003 as a seventeen year old junior in Long Prairie/Grey Eagle High School.  He attended basic training between his junior and senior year of high school and completed his advanced individual training after his senior year.  He was qualified as an armor soldier and as a tank crew member, graduating fifth in his class of 200 soldiers.  He was looking forward to going to college as he would be the first member of his family to achieve this goal.

    Sergeant Hatton was advanced to Private First Class after AIT and was promoted to Specialist a year after that.  Shortly after his promotion he was mobilized as part of the 1/34th Brigade Combat Team and traveled with his unit to Camp Shelby, Mississippi to train for a deployment in Support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  After six months of training, he deployed with his unit, Company C, 1-194 Armor to

    Tallil,

    During December he received his first wound and his first Purple Heart when he was shot in the arm.  He returned to duty with his unit but in February, 2007 he was injured again and earned his second Purple Heart when an IED exploded on his vehicle which resulted in facial wounds.  At this point he was given the option to take a desk assignment or stay on the road with his troops.  As a combat troop leader, he opted to stay with his soldiers and his team.

    During the late stages of his sixteen month deployment in Iraq he served as the Truck Commander of the lead Armored Scout Vehicle on numerous occasions for convoy escort missions.  Finally he was the second in command of a Radio Relay Point and responsible for a segment of a route during his last month in Iraq.  Sergeant Hatton was recognized for his service with the following Awards:

    • 2 Purple Hearts,
    • 2 Army Commendation Medals (ARCOM)
    • 1 Army Achievement Medal (AAM)
    • The Army Good Conduct Medal
    • The National Defense Service Medal
    • The Global War on Terror Service Medal
    • The
    • The Combat Action Badge
    • The Combat driver badge with wheeled vehicle clasp. 

    Sergeant Hatton served six months at Camp Shelby, MS on Title 10 active duty prior to deploying and then served sixteen months in Iraq with the 1/34th Brigade Combat team – the longest serving unit of any military organization in Operation Iraqi Freedom.  These twenty-two months of Title 10 active duty, with sixteen months in continuous combat, more than meet the requirements to qualify for the Chapter 30 GI Bill. 

    Sergeant Hatton served with his Brigade from its mobilization through its release from Active Duty and was wounded twice during the course of his deployment; however, inexplicitly he and 1,161 of his brethren failed to receive their just benefits.  Unlike the 1,360 other Minnesota 1/34th Red Bull soldiers, he will not receive the Chapter 30 GI Bill.     

    3.  Shaping the Future:

    The challenge we face is larger than fixing the current issue with the Chapter 30 GI bill; the real issue is changing how the National Guard and Reserves are used by the Services and this country.  Prior to this century and certainly during the Cold War the Reserve Components were largely used as a Strategic Reserve.  It was an asset funded at a moderate level with promised funding increases in the event of a world-spanning conflict.  This was a prudent measure based on the expected threat model and the size and composition of the Active Component.  Following the end of the Cold War, the size of the Active Component was reduced by approximately one-third but yet the level and tempo of deployments has dramatically increased.  This shift intensified our Nation’s reliance on the Reserve Components in a new and fundamentally different way.

    Since September 11th 2001, the tempo and use of National Guard and Reserve units has continued to expand.  The ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation) and the AEF (Air Expeditionary Force) models both fully integrate and presume planned readiness and deployment of major National Guard and Reserve troop formations on a repeated basis thus fully entrenching the National Guard as an Operational Force on par with Active Component units.

    These planned and repetitive readiness/deployment cycles require a different funding and benefits package than was used in the ‘Cold War’ model when the Reserve Component was a strategic reserve for this country.  Many of the changes in full-time manning, facility investment, training readiness, and equipping levels fall outside of this committee but are critically important to ensuring our National Guard and reserve are ready to answer the ongoing call to this nation.

    House Veterans’ Affairs is heavily vested in some of the benefit changes that are required to sustain a vital and valid Reserve Component for the United States of America.  I highlight several below:

    • The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program (See Attachment #1):  This program is currently included in the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2008.   The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program builds the structure to sustain the force after military deployments and mitigates the impact of deployment on the service members, their families, and their communities.
    • This program provides staff authorizations, personnel funding, and a proven model of program execution to provide for the reintegration of reserve component service members to their homes and back into their communities after a military deployment. 
    • The practical reality is that most reserve component military members and their families live hundred of miles form the nearest active duty base; the programs available to active component service members is greatly diminished by simple geography.  For example

      Minnesota has no active component military bases. 

    • This program engages state and local government, private, and non/not for-profit groups to supplement the programs available through the federal government and the military service components. 
      • Presently, there are numerous legislative initiatives to address the issues created by the 1/34th BCT orders situation.  Moreover, these initiatives look to amend The Total Force GI Bill Program.  We encourage this committee to explore these legislative proposals in order to provide the best service options to our warrior-citizens.

      In conclusion, our Nation’s reliance on the Reserve Components is fundamentally different than it was prior to September 11th, 2001.  We strongly believe:

      • The Reserve Components are an integral part of the current war fight; this requires enhanced funding and resources to ensure we remain both an effective fighting force and still meet our historic role in support of our citizens here at home. 
      • Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, and Sailors continue to step forward in remarkable numbers to serve their country.  Service members continue to stay in boots to serve multiple deployments while balancing the needs of their family, career, and community. 
      • This dedication and committed service to the country needs greater incentives, reward, and legal protection than provided under a Cold War benefits package.

      Attachments:

      1. Timeline – MGIB CH 30
      2. Questions and Answers
      3. Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program – Legislation

      CH 30 MGIB Timeline

State /
Territory

# Assigned

Estimated 47.5% impact

AL

4

1.9

AZ

1

0.475

CA

7

3.325

CO

4

1.9

FL

3

1.425

GA

6

2.85

IA

606

287.85

ID

17

8.075

IL

1

0.475

IN

1

0.475

KS

102

48.45

KY

73

34.675

LA

3

1.425

MA

2

0.95

ME

1

0.475

MI

1

0.475

MN

2447

1162.325

MT

3

1.425

NC

7

3.325

ND

1

0.475

NE

257

122.075

NJ

157

74.575

NY

8

3.8

OH

2

0.95

OK

3

1.425

OR

1

0.475

PA

6

2.85

PR

1

0.475

RI

3

1.425

SD

2

0.95

TN

7

3.325

UT

7

3.325

VA

1

0.475

VT

6

2.85

WA

15

7.125

WI

21

9.975

WY

3

1.425

USAR

22

10.45

IRR

141

66.975

 

 

 

TOTAL

3953

1877.675

 

  1. How many Minnesotans does this affect?
  • 1,162 Soldiers of the MNARNG.
  1. How many in the 1BCT are affected? 
  • Not able to identify, but by extrapolation…more than 700 soldiers from 38 other States, Territories, the Army Reserve and the IRR.
  • It is also important to consider and acknowledge the countless other RC Service Members from all branches (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard) of the Armed Forces across the nation affected by the inequity in MGIB benefits, who do not have a Joint Task Force Headquarters to champion their cause.
  1. When did the Guard discover that 1,162 Minnesotans were getting a reduced MGIB benefit?
  • On approximately 18 Jul 07 the MN Army National Guard Education Services Officer received information from the National Guard Professional Education Center GI Bill team at

    Ft.

    McCoy that the issue exists.

4.  What steps did MN take to solve this educational benefit issue?

  • Notified soldiers,
  • Notified NGB Manpower Division
  • Notified MN Governor
  • Notified MN Congressional Delegation
  • Work with NGB ARM to define the problem and identify possible solutions
  • Work with the Federal VA to identify courses of action and a timely resolution
  • Delivered appeal to ABCMR
  1. Who did MN contact to resolve the issue with the REFRAD orders?
  • NGB Manpower Division who further contacted NGB Judge Advocate and the  Army Office of the Judge Advocate General
  1. What was the response of NGB?
  • NGB provided counsel, verbal support, and is trying to help devise a means to expedite individual requests.
  1. What was the response of DA?
  • On 28 Sep 07  Secretary of the Army Geren publicly announced the issue; he referred it to the Army Board of Correction for Military Records (ABCMR) for expedient "group" resolution.
  • 1 Oct 07    On behalf of the affected soldiers, the TAG-MN submits a "class action" ABCMR request, copies furnished to the Director of the Army National Guard (DARNG), Chief National Guard Bureau (CNGB), and the Secretary of the Army.
  • 3 Oct 07    ABCMR chair passes the action to NGB-ARH (Human Resources). The basis of this referral is ABCMR’s claim that the law does not provide for a “class action” type of submission; each soldier must submit an individual appeal.
  • 4 Oct 07    ABCMR chair responds to TAG-MN indicating that action cannot be handled as a group.
  1. How much time has gone by since these soldiers left active duty ISO OIF?
  • Close to 3000 soldiers demobilized in July 07, three months ago.
  1. If the 1,162 Minnesotans with 729 or fewer deployed days on their orders do not become eligible how much in total benefits will be lost?
  • $9,537,696.
  • $15,414,624 is the total approximate loss of benefits for the estimated 1878 total soldiers (all states) possibly affected by this orders situation.
  • Lost portability of their educational benefit.
  1. Does Minnesota have a program to bridge the monetary difference?
  • No, there is no state offset to a federal benefit.
  1. Just how many states are affected by the orders disparity?
  • 37 states provided National Guard soldiers to the BCT with an additional 141 IRR soldiers from various states.  As MN experienced apx 47.5% impact rate we would expect this same impact to other states as well.
  1. Why is this an issue now, it has never come up in the 6 years since deployments began post 9-11?
  • The 1/34th BCT mobilized and deployed to

    Iraq for an unprecedented 22 months of consecutive service, with 16 of those months served in combat.  No other reserve component unit served as long as the BCT so therefore this issue never arose.

    1. Is this isolated to the units that were extended?
    • Within MN, yes, but we do not know how it affects reserve component members across the nation.
    1. How many MN Army National Guard soldiers utilize MGIB?
    • This data is maintained by the VA and not the Minnesota National Guard.
    1. Should we amend law/regulation so that our reserve component forces become eligible for the same benefits as AC?
    • RC members are already eligible for this benefit as long as the eligibility criteria are met. 
    • However, as the NG is now an Operational Force rather than a Strategic Reserve, we need to align benefits and eligibility criteria to meet the changing nature of our reserve components. 
    • As the RC has many soldiers on their second or third tour, the cumulative nature of their combat service should elevate their status to a higher level of benefit.  For example, an RC member with two combat tours and 10 years of service has fewer educational benefits than an AC soldier who didn’t deploy and left active duty after his/her first enlistment.
    1. Did the Army intentionally deny this benefit?
    • We do not believe our soldiers are being intentionally denied this benefit.  We believe they are victims of a very complex process of mobilizing and deploying soldiers, and the extension simply complicated it even more. 
    • The system has a process by which we can properly correct what we believe to be an error; however it has not operated in a manner that is timely when considering the negative impact to soldiers and their personal life decisions.
    • We are not able to address all other RC members, but the situation is such that we expect other soldiers throughout the nation are negatively impacted by this situation.
    1. Didn’t the President/sec def extend your unit?
    • The basis of the extension was as part of the Presidential directed Troop Surge.
    • Minnesotans served proudly and with distinction and would have done so regardless of who ordered the troop surge.
    • We believe the Troop Surge is simply the trigger to an unprecedented situation and we are not looking to identify the cause or whose fault it is, but we are focused on finding solutions as we collectively take care of our soldiers.
    1. Why is the law written the way it is for RC personnel?
    • We believe the RC is operating in a way that is not how it was envisioned when many laws were written.  A service member chooses to serve in the RC over the AC and knows the difference in benefit levels; we as Reserve Component soldiers know and accept this. 
    • However, we believe that when called to serve in an AC capacity, the benefits available should equal that of other soldiers who perform the same duty for the same duration.
    1. Why can’t the ABCMR action MN’s submission as a collective whole?
    • We submitted a group application in accordance with our understanding of the Secretary of the Army’s guidance and our interpretation of the regulatory provisions; but when done it was passed to NGB for review based on the Board’s claim that they do not have legal authority to review a “class action” type submission. 
    • We believe the ABCMR can review a group submission, by our interpretation of applicable law and regulation.  I realize that DA's legal opinion prepared by OGC differs from mine and that of my staff.
    1. The law calls for 2 years (730 days) ordered to Active Duty to be eligible for MGIB CH 30.  None of your soldiers served that long.  So what’s the problem?
    • The salient issue is not the number of days on orders, but the 20 consecutive months which this BCT exceeded.  Dates on orders are largely immaterial to actual service performed.
    1. Why the AC benefit if not in AC status?  The eligibility is defined different than enlistment.
    • The law states that they must serve for 20 months, under an Active Duty order of 2 years' duration minimum, and that if they are released earlier than 2 years (not less than 20 months continuous service) for convenience of the government, they’re still eligible. 
    • My soldiers did the hard part – the 20 months’ service.  The piece of paper is obviously the easy part and needs to be looked at from a practical standpoint.  I have countless soldiers who got on and off the bus together, and served shoulder-to-shoulder for 20 months or longer, and now one gets the benefit and the other does not.
    1. Why are you objecting to the ABCMR requirement for individual submissions?
    • Because I don’t believe that that is what the law requires in its spirit.
    • The law gives Secretary Geren the authority and responsibility to establish the ABCMR’s procedures; he has the authority to change or update these procedures as he deems appropriate.  We interpreted his comments as a statement of desire to expedite this appeal.  We understood that his office would seek any necessary appeals to expedite this process. 
    • If I can pay, promote, and deploy a soldier without his signature, I should not need it for this either. 
    • Bottom line:  I am appealing to you to cut the red tape and pave the way for your Nation’s heroes to get the benefits they have earned.  The VA is enthusiastic in their support of this national change and has demonstrated the commitment and support to veterans that every government agency should.
    1. Why should we make change?
    • National media and the American people have been led to believe that the government is "working on it."   High-level military leaders have been on national television and proclaimed and promised quick resolution.  It has already been 3 months. 
    • RC soldiers had their education plans interrupted, not just delayed.  The purposes of the MGIB Ch 30 program are clear in Title 38 United States Code.  My veterans fit the criteria.
    1. If you’ve been assured quick resolution by the Army and by NGB, then why are you insisting on the group submission?
    • Speed and preservation of our credibility.  When issues languish in administrative quagmire, the situation gets worse over time.  NGB has already established a 7-month window (now through March 2008) for submission of applications for these soldiers who returned in July 2007 and many of whom started school in September 2007.  This window does not include board processing time or output mechanisms, so I cannot even estimate for any soldier when it will be resolved, or which semester to plan on for enrollment in Ch 30. 
    • One application takes one board to convene; the decision is based on the merit of the entire affected class. 
    • From our experience, ABCMR actions take 3-6 months to complete.   We cannot afford to tell our soldiers – or the media and the public – that we’re expecting resolution by October 2008, and that they will thus be without the Ch 30 benefits they earned for at least two more semesters of college after the one they're in now. 
    1. What specifically do you want us to accomplish?   
    • 2 things: 
    1. We ask the subcommittee to take any and all actions that are reasonable to help correct this situation in an expedient manner with particular emphasis on my desire to have it completed before Christmas 2007.
    2. Review the current law and legislation for efficacy as we look for continued use of the reserve components as an operational force.
    1. It is worth noting that Reserve component members who served on active duty in support of a contingency operation for one continuous year qualify for an educational benefit of approximately $660 per month (for a full-time student) under the Reserve Educational Assistance Program (REAP), isn’t this enough?
    • This is not in question and is an appropriate benefit given a certain set of conditions.  Eventually a benefit plan that recognizes the Reserve Component change from Strategic Reserve to an Operational Force will need to be implemented.
    1. The gross difference between the REAP benefit and the MGIB benefit is approximately $228, which isn’t all that great.
    • This is a lot of money for a college student.
    • The true gross difference is based on a number of factors, however for the sake of discussion, if we use $228 per month the cumulative difference over the length of the benefit is $8,208, or enough money to allow soldiers discretion in which college or program to attend.
    • In addition, the REAP benefit is only available to the SM while in the RC whereas the CH 30 benefit is available for up to 10 years after leaving the service.
    1. Are you asking for Reserve Component members who serve as few as 20 months on active duty to receive the same benefit as active duty members have to serve 36 months on active duty.
    • These are two very distinct issues: reaching eligibility for the veteran’s education benefit is not the same as a term of enlistment. 
    • A term of enlistment may extend to 36 months, however a soldier becomes eligible for the CH 30 benefit after 20 months of continuous active/mobilized service; this is all that MN is asking for, to receive the same benefit after achieving this eligibility benchmark while serving on active duty.
    1. MN’s claims that 1/34th BCT achieved the benchmark of at least 20 month continuous service, one of the requirement of the CH 30 eligibility, is this a combination or orders which address state and federal duty?
    • Orders for these soldiers were Title 10 (12302, Partial Mobilization) throughout the duration of the BCT’s deployment.
    • There was no aggregation of Title 32 and Title 10 service.

    SEC. 516. NATIONAL GUARD YELLOW RIBBON REINTEGRATION PROGRAM.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, shall establish a national combat veteran reintegration program to provide National Guard members and their families with sufficient information, services, referral, and proactive outreach opportunities throughout the entire deployment cyclic. This program shall be known as the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program. The Secretary may also use funds made available to carry out this section to support reintegration programs for members of the Army Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Navy Reserve, and Air Force Reserve and their families.

    (b) PURPOSE.—The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program shall consist of informational events and activities for reserve component members, their families, and community members through the four phases of the deployment cycle:

    (1) Pre-deployment.

    (2) Deployment.

    (3) Demobilization.

    (4) Post-deployment-reconstitution.

    (c) CONSULTATION.—The National Guard Bureau Chief shall consult with the following parties during establishment of the program:

    (1) The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard and officials associated with the State's “Beyond the Yellow Ribbon” Reintegration Program, the Adjutant General of New Hampshire, the Adjutant General of Oregon, and the Adjutant General of Washington.

    (2) Adjutants General of the remaining States and territories.

    (d) ORGANIZATION.—

    (1) EXECUTIVE AGENT.—The Secretary shall designate the National Guard Bureau as the Department of Defense executive agent for the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program.

    (2) ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFICE FOR REINTEGRATION PROGRAMS.—

    (A) IN GENERAL.—The National Guard Bureau shall establish the Office for Reintegration Programs within the National Guard Bureau Joint Staff. This office shall administer all reintegration programs in coordination with State National Guard organizations. The office shall be responsible for coordination with existing National Guard family and support programs. The Directors of the Army National Guard and Air National Guard may appoint liaison officers to work with the permanent office staff. The office shall closely coordinate with the Army National Guard and

DATE EVENT(S)
10 Jan 07 The President announced the surge of forces for OIF; 1/34th BCT was included in this surge.
24 Jan 07

Minnesota began to receive specific extension information by Unit Identification Code (UIC).

~Jun-Jul 07 1/34th BCT arrives at Ft. McCoy, WI and undergoes demobilization training.
~18 Jul 07 MN Army National Guard Education Services Officer (MNARNG ESO) receives information from the National Guard Professional Education Center (PEC) GI Bill team at

Ft.

McCoy that the issue exists.  GI Bill Managers from Washington State, Iowa and

Minnesota augmented the team. During this 15-day operation, the team provided one-on-one GI Bill counseling to 2,703 Soldiers, in addition to providing a daily 30-minute GI Bill briefing.

19 July 07

Minnesota Congressional Delegation informed of emerging issue

20 Jul 07 The Adjutant General (TAG-MN) signs a position paper in response to WCCO media inquiries: MN will seek to redress what appears to be an “administrative error” which denied benefit eligibility to soldiers.
23 Jul 07 TAG-MN sends a letter to all affected MNARNG Soldiers informing them of the issue and the actions MN is taking to correct the situation.
3 Aug 07 MNARNG notifies all MN National Guard full-time unit leaders of this developing issue (Officers in Charge at each unit location in MN).

Congressional Delegation updated on the issue

8 Aug 07 MNARNG ESO contacts the National Guard Bureau Army Manpower Division (NGB-ARM) to ask for a nation-wide ESO announcement of this developing issue.
10 Aug 07 Minnesota Delegation Congressional letter to Secretary of Army
14 Aug 07 NGB-Judge Advocate contacts The Department of the Army Office of the Judge Advocate General (OTJAG) and suggested a timely and reasonable solution by way of amending orders using "administrative error" as justification.
15 Aug 07 NGB-ARM approves and nationally disseminates an Education and Incentives Operations Message (07-44) to all state and territory Education Services Officers and TA Managers.
5 Sep 07 NGB-ARM asks MNARNG to verify the Unit Identification Codes (UICs) of all units affected by this apparent discrepancy in anticipation of producing amended orders.
6 Sep 07 The Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) confirms in writing that if CH 30 eligibility is determined, soldiers can easily migrate from 1607 to Ch 30 benefits.
7 Sep 07 Congressional Delegation informed of DVA position
~27 Sep 07 OTJAG concludes "administrative error" cannot be justified to amend orders; staff level options for timely resolution end and the issue is elevated.
28 Sep 07 Secretary of the Army Geren publicly announces the issue; he refers it to the Army Board of Correction for Military Records (ABCMR) for expedient "group" resolution.
1 Oct 07 On behalf of the affected soldiers, the TAG-MN submits a "class action" ABCMR request, copies furnished to the Director of the Army National Guard (DARNG), Chief National Guard Bureau (CNGB), and the Secretary of the Army.
3 Oct 07 ABCMR chair passes the action to NGB-ARH (Human Resources). The basis of this referral is ABCMR’s claim that the law does not provide for a “class action” type of submission; each soldier must submit an individual appeal.
4 Oct 07 ABCMR chair responds to TAG-MN indicating that action cannot be handled as a group.

 HR 3741 introduced for the relief of certain members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th ID

The National Guard and Reserve Educational Benefits Fairness Act of 2007 introduced in the Senate

8 Oct 07 MNARNG receives guidance from ARH regarding the submission of individual Ch 30 appeals to the ABCMR; ARH will surge resources to support an expedited delivery of appeals to the ABCMR.
11 OCT 07 MNARNG requested Additional Duty for Special Work funds (ADSW) to hire additional military support staff to build 1100+ packets, NGB sent three Majors to assist.
13-14 Oct 07 MNARNG begins to implement ARH guidance during reintegration training to access soldiers and begin individual packet preparation.