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Benefits of Service

An Open Letter to Congress

Updated: July 3, 2015

The following letter was written and submitted for publication by CTI2 (IDW) Courtney Swanson who is currently serving as a member of the active duty Navy.


I am writing to you today in response to Secretary Mabus’s announcement to triple maternity leave for Sailors and Marines. While I applaud Mr. Mabus’s decision and consider it a magnificent victory for military families, there are still measures that need to be taken in order to support all our service members. I am referring to the extension of paternity and adoptive leave – both of which would require Congressional action. As a Sailor and one of your constituents, I implore you to support legislative action in order to foster a stronger and more inclusive military.

Out of all the occupations in the United States, I can think of none more worthy for extended paternity leave than a service member. With constant deployments, temporary assigned duties, and overall separation from their family, men in the military have a greater need than most for uninterrupted time with their newborn child.

Under current regulations, men (Read the rest of the article…)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Updated: June 14, 2015

One of the popular enlistment incentives I receive the most inquires for is the Navy’s Student Loan Repayment Program (SLRP). SLRP will pay off up to $65,000 of qualifying student loans over the first three years of your enlistment. The biggest downfall for the program is that it can be cumbersome and very few ratings and programs actually qualify for the incentive. So, is there an alternative? Maybe so.

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program (PSLF) might be for you, but it requires you (Read the rest of the article…)

My SLAP Tear

Updated: April 3, 2015

On a sunny, windy day about three years ago, I was in the front yard tossing a football with my oldest son. Due to the wind’s speed which was directly in my face, it took considerable effort for me to throw the ball to where my son was standing just 20 yards away.

I have always had a pretty good arm. I could throw a football on an otherwise calm day a consistent 60 yards; I could throw a baseball in the mid 70 mile per hour range when clocked at the minor league concession stands at the various Double A and Triple A ballparks I have visited across the nation. Throwing the football to my son just 20 yards away should have been a piece of cake, wind or no wind.

We had been throwing back and forth maybe a dozen times, and on my next to last throw, I heaved that football to my son as hard as I could.

I didn’t hear a pop, or any noise for that matter, coming from my arm. The only sound made came from my mouth — it kinda went like this, “GHHAAAHHH, SH$%, son of a Easter bunny!” Okay, I admit I cleaned it up a bit, but my right shoulder hurt like the devil.

My son asked if I was okay.

I did a quick check, moved my arm around and didn’t feel any pain, so and I responded, “sure, throw it back!” He did.

A little voice in my head told me to call it a day. I should have listened.

I reared back (Read the rest of the article…)

My Last Semester

Updated: October 29, 2014

On January 16, 2014, I will be starting what will be my last semester of college using the Post 9/11 GI-Bill. Today, I received my what should be my last letter explaining my eligibility, and it states, “As of February 21, 2014 you have 0 months and 0 days remaining.” It is kind of like the end of an era for me.

Now, of course, my next semester does not end on the 21st of February — it will extend until sometime Mid-May — but my benefit (tuition, books, BAH, etc.) will extend until the semester’s completion because I will not bump up against the (Read the rest of the article…)

New Experience

Updated: August 17, 2014

Just bought the tickets, there is no turning back now. On October 15, my wife and I will have the pleasure of seeing our first stage performance at the Orpheum Theatre, a touring professional theatre, located in Memphis.

The play is called Memphis, and it is a musical. At least it’s rock ‘n’ roll.

According to the Orpheum Web site, Memphis the Musical, a Tony Award winning musical, takes place in the underground dance clubs of Memphis during the 1950s, a time when the segregation of race was the norm and rock ‘n’ roll was just taking root. A thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love that was inspired by actual events, Memphis the Musical is about a white male radio disk jockey who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break.

Why are we going? I am taking Theatre (Read the rest of the article…)

When the GI Bill Entitlement Exhausts During a Term

Updated: June 3, 2016

In a McDonald’s up in State College, PA soaking up some free WiFi and decided to post the following information about the GI Bill. Hope it makes sense, and I hope this barbeque sauce is easy to get out from between the keys of my keyboard.

With a new college semester starting at the end of this month, it was time to follow-up with the VA to ensure they received all the paperwork required to ensure the book stipend, BAH and tuition gets paid on time. Before I made the call, I realized that my oldest son, who also is in college, was doing the same thing to ensure everything is in order. He informed me that although this is his last year of school, this coming semester was the last one he would receive his GI Bill benefit. As a matter of fact, he only has 16 days of benefit left, but after reading statements like, “If an individual’s entitlement exhausts during a term, benefits may be extended until the end of the term.” he thought this upcoming semester was taken care of… he was wrong. (Read the rest of the article…)

Break Pay, No Longer an Issue

Updated: June 3, 2016

Now, 36 months means 36 months.

Prior to the new law signed by President Obama, between short college semester breaks, unless a member otherwise stipulated, those receiving benefit under the Post-9/11 GI-Bill would continue to receive a living stipend equal to the amount of E-5 BAH with dependents. What most beneficiaries were unaware of is that receiving the stipend reduced your future months of full GI Bill benefit.

Most of the changes take affect 1 August 2011, so if you plan on taking the first summer classes, break pay will still be an issue.

(Read the rest of the article…)

Holiday Leave

Updated: July 4, 2016

Twas a month before Christmas and all through the house
Creatures started stirring, yup, even the mouse…

Gah, I suck at poetry, even when I try and bastardize someone else’s work.

Anyway, the season is upon us. The time of year when the wife makes you pull down the boxes of decorations from the attic, put up the tree and start the laborious process of making the house look like the place only elves would congregate. Well, this year – just say no! Put the fun back in the holidays! Take advantage of a benefit you have been saying you’d get around to using.

Space A travel.

If you (Read the rest of the article…)

Time to Register

Updated: August 17, 2014

For those attending college, it is that time of year to start the process to register for the Spring semester. If you are using your earned Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits, remember you must request certification for the next semester through your school’s Veteran’s Administration representative after you sign-up for the classes you wish to take.

Each school has a local form you must fill out for your VA Rep. to use as a guide that asks you questions about your enrollment; like, “Are you repeating any courses?”; “Has your major changed?”; “Are you active duty?”; another important one, “Do you require a Veteran’s Hold Agreement?” (the Hold Agreement basically tells the school the VA is paying the bills, and it allows you to proceed as if payment has been made), and what your education objective is and if it has changed (remember, to declare, change or add a secondary major, you must fill out (Read the rest of the article…)

Enlistment Bonuses for SELRES

Updated: September 3, 2010

Effective October 1, 2010, bonuses will be available to prior service personnel who affiliate in the Navy Reserve in the ratings, and for the period of times, listed below, and also for new enlistees who enter the New Accession Training Program (as listed in the NAVADMIN below) for a minimum of 6 years.
(Read the rest of the article…)

A Navy recruiting blog that delves into the military enlistment process and benefits of service. This is NOT an official United States Navy or government web site. The opinions expressed are my own, and may not be in-line with any branches of the government or military.

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Unless otherwise noted, content written by Thomas Goering, NCCM USN(RET).

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