Pentagon resolving Minnesota National Guard casesby Fred Frommer, Associated Press
Washington D.C. — (AP) - The Army has resolved the eligibility of more than 600 Minnesota National Guard soldiers for full education benefits through the Army Board for Correction of Military Records.
To date, 930 of the 1,162 soldiers affected have applied to have their eligibility adjusted or declined the benefits. So far, 616 have been approved, and the pending ones are expected to be as well, Capt. Allan Hetteen, education officer for the Minnesota National Guard, said in a telephone interview Friday.
He added that none have been turned down to date, and that very few have declined their benefits, although he didn't have an exact number.
Upon returning from Iraq this year, nearly half of the soldiers of the 1st Brigade Combat Team of the 34th Infantry Division -- one of the longest serving U.S. military units in Iraq -- discovered they weren't eligible for full education benefits under the GI Bill.
For some members of the "Red Bulls," just one day of service prevented them from being eligible for the full package, although all were eligible for some money.
That led to a flurry of activity, with members of the Minnesota congressional delegation pressing Pentagon officials and even President Bush for a fix, as well as introducing legislation to resolve the issue favorably toward the soldiers.
"The bottom line is that this situation is being taken care of," said Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., who provided an update of the situation on a conference call this week. "There will not be a need for legislation. I'm very pleased about that."
Hetteen said that the Army Board has been taking about a week to resolve a case after the board submits it on a soldier's behalf.
"Things are moving along, and it's been relatively quick, and we're pleased with the turnaround that the Army Board for Correction of Military Records has been able to do," he said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)