GI Bill Transfer Came Down to 'Do Spouses Serve?'


Over the last few months we've taken the opportunity to explain some of the proposed benefits cuts to you -- while letting you weigh in with what you think the best outcome may be through polls. In these polls we generally offer some solutions that are actually on the table, as well as some solutions that seem like they should be but aren't (like leaving all of your benefits alone).

That's how we approached the proposed cuts to the GI Bill program, too. Right now the GI Bill can be transferred to spouses and children (pending certain service obligations). Depending on the situation it comes with a nice little Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) payment as well. That stuff makes a difference when your other option is a steady diet of Ramen noodles.

You can read all the proposals that are laid for cuts to the GI Bill over here in our "pick your own cuts" post about it.

And when we asked you what should be done, here is what you said:


As of this writing, the majority of you said nothing should be done. That's no surprise -- I expected that.

The next strongest majority suggested we just get rid of the thing few people use/qualify for anyway. Again, no surprise.

But here is what DID surprise me -- that the vocal majority in the comments of the original post hotly debated the value of keeping transferability or the bonus BAH support that goes with it based of the merits of the people receiving it.

Instead of debating the value of the promise of a benefit or whether or not the transferability nice-to-have feature was worth the cost, you chose to discuss whether or not military spouses have served or sacrificed and, therefore, are deserving of any kind of education benefit.

We've discussed this topic at length on SpouseBuzz before, and it's a pretty heated one. Some of you think spouses serve, some don't -- and some take objection to the word "serve" itself, noting that "sacrificing" and "service" are two different things.

Do spouses serve, too? Or do they "just" sacrifice? And does it matter?

In my view debating those questions when it comes to the value of benefits is a little misguided. The entire family benefits from any military pay, cash or otherwise, regardless of what they did or did not do to "deserve" it. Just because a spouse isn't out doing the fighting doesn't mean she shouldn't receive healthcare. Military leaders know taking care of the family is taking care of the service member.

So does that mean that ability to transfer the GI Bill, with or without the BAH portion, is something that should stay? Like so many other portions of the whole budget cuts debate, it's, unfortunately, a matter of deciding what is most important in the long run.

Wouldn't it be nice to live in a DoD budget world where we didn't have to even theoretically choose between bullets and, in this, college?

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