3 VA programs for National Guard and Reserves

Jonathan Kaupanger
April 26, 2018 - 12:47 pm

Michigan National Guard photo by Sgt. Seth LaCount

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For the most part, members of the National Guard and Reserves are eligible for VA benefits as long as they are released under conditions that weren’t dishonorable. There are some eligibility requirements for some benefits that require a specific amount of time of active duty, and here they are.

Home Loans

VA’s Home Loan Guarantee Program works by the VA guaranteeing a portion of the loan which lets lenders offer things like no down payment or lower mortgage insurance programs. To qualify for this benefit, Reserve and National Guards members must have an honorable discharge and meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Served for 90 days or more on active duty during a wartime period
  • Were discharged or released from active duty for a service-connected disability
  • Have six years of service in the Selected Reserve or National Guard
  • Were placed on the retired list
  • Were transferred to the Standby Reserve or an element of the Ready Reserve other than the Selected Reserve after honorable service
  • Continue to serve in the Selected Reserve

You can learn more about the general rules for eligibility and how to apply for a Certificate of Eligibility.

Education

Through VA’s Education Benefits programs you can receive financial support for undergraduate and graduate degrees, vocational and technical training, licensing and certification tests, apprenticeships and on the job training. Apply for education benefits here.

  • Post 9/11 GI Bill: Serve at least 90 aggregate days of active service after Sept. 10, 2001, or were discharged with a service-connected disability after serving at least 30 consecutive days after that date.
  • Montgomery GI Bill – Active Duty: To be eligible for this you’ll need an honorable discharge and have a high school diploma or GED or in some cases 12 hours of college credit and you meet the requirements of at least one of the following categories:
    • Category I: Entered active duty for the first time after June 30, 1985; Had military pay reduced by $100 a month for first 12 months; Continuously served for three or two years (depending on first enlistment) or you entered the Selected Reserves within a year of leaving active duty and served four years.
    • Category II: Entered active duty before Jan. 1, 1977; Served at least one day between 10/19/84 and 6/30/85 and stayed active duty through 6/30/88; On 12/31/98 you had entitlement left from Vietnam-era GI Bill.
    • Category III: Not eligible under Category I or II; on active duty on 9/30/90 and separated involuntarily after 2/2/91; or involuntarily separated on or after 11/30/93; or voluntarily separated under the Voluntary Separation Incentive or Special Separation Benefit program; before separation, you had military pay reduced by $1,200.
    • Category IV: On active duty on 10/9/96 and you had money remaining in a VEAP account on that date and you elected MGIB on 10/9/97; or you entered full time National Guard duty under title 32 between 7/1/85 and 11/28/89 and you elected MGIB during the period 10/9/96 – 7/08/97; had military pay reduced by $100 for 12 months or made a $1,200 lump-sum contribution.
  • Montgomery GI Bill-Selected Reserve:  Must have 6-year obligation to serve in the Selected Reserve, completed Initial Active Duty for Training , served in a drill unit and remain in good standing, have a high school diploma or equivalency.
  • Reserve Educational Assistance Program: Served on active duty on or after September 11, 2001 for at least 90 consecutive days.

Life Insurance

With the risks associated with military service, having extra life insurance is the smart thing to do.  VA’s Life Insurance Programs have relatively low monthly premiums for coverage.  Each of the following programs has different eligibility requirements. There are some medical conditions that make you uninsurable, you can find more information about that here.

  • Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance (SGLI): You are automatically insured under full-time SGLI if you are scheduled to perform at least 12 period of inactive training per year or are an Individual Ready Reserve member who volunteers for a mobilization category.
  • Veterans Group Life Insurance (VGLI):  You have one year and 120 days from your date of separation to apply for VGLI.  If you apply for coverage within 240 days from separation you won’t have to submit evidence of good health. You can convert your SGLI to VGLI through eBenefits.  To qualify for VGIL you need to be released from Reserve or National Guard assignment and are already covered by SGLI; or a member covered by part time SGLI who incurred a disability or aggravated a pre-existing disability; Member of the Individual Ready Reserve or Inactive national Guard.
  • Family Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance: This is for the spouse or dependent child of a member of the National Guard or Reserve of a uniformed service covered by full time SGLI.