Well, maybe not that bad – but it looks like plenty of Reservists and National Guardsmen were caught, well, off guard. Courtesy of the Military Times:
Thousands of reservists who deployed over the past two years, thinking they were entitled to the benefits that mobilized and deployed reservists have typically received for years, have been bitterly disappointed upon their return.
The culprit? The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which amended Title 10 of the U.S. Code with the now infamous (as of today, anyway), Section 12304b.
The issue? Section 12304b provides the service secretaries an additional authority to recall up to 60,000 Selected Reservists to active duty for periods under 365 days.
Why this other authority? Check out the section titles in Title 10, Chapter 1209; all will become clear. Compare Section 12302 – “Ready Reserve” – with Section 12304 – “Selected Reserve and certain Individual Ready Reserve members; order to active duty other than during war or national emergency.” This just goes to show that unwieldy titles generally denote bad news.
Reserve activations under 12302 cover any state of “national emergency declared by the President” – in short, the typical situations people think of when the Reserves need to be called up. Section 12304, though, provides authority to call up Reservists outside of those national emergencies; in the case of subsection 12304b, “a preplanned mission in support of a combatant command.”
In a nutshell, 12302 covers Reservists being mobilized for war; 12304 covers those being sent to conduct international exercises or other long-planned engagements.
Why the benefits problem? Laws governing benefits like the Post-9/11 GI Bill were written prior to 2012 and were never amended to cover Section 12304. There’s no conspiracy here. But still, a bunch of Reservists and Guardsmen involuntarily mobilized to support exercises instead of operations are left without access to many of the benefits they expected when they joined up. The gripes are justified.
What should you do? If you get involuntold to go somewhere, check Reference A in your orders, right under your name and address. The reference will tell you what authority you’ve been mobilized under. If it’s Section 12302, Title 10 USC, you’re good to go. If it’s any other number… you might want to get that checked out.