This FAQ is related to Courage to Resist’s “Resisting Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) recall” published February 2009. If this question is of interest to you, please read our overview first.

Individuals who refuse to report for involuntary activation may receive a General discharge or an Other Than Honorable (OTH) discharge from the IRR.

Of the 2,294 individuals the military officially identified as having failed to report for IRR activation from September 11, 2001 through November 30, 2009 the military administered 370 OTH discharges and 109 General discharges. Officially, 1,665 cases remain under investigation and 150 are “pending action”. We believe the actual number of IRR refusers could be twice this number, and that the majority of refusers are still receiving Honorable discharges.

Your IRR discharge classification has no impact on the characterization of your original discharge. Aside from the housing and book allowances provided by the “Post-9/11 GI Bill”, your military benefits are based on your discharge from active duty service and are not impacted by IRR refusal.

As of March 2010, some members of the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) who were involuntarily activated by the Army are being listed by the Veterans Administration (VA) as on “Active Duty Recall status”, or just “active”. This affects some benefits of some IRR recall refusers for the first time. Once the VA is notified by the Army that an individual has been activated, the VA is now supposed to stop payments for both the housing allowance and the book allowance otherwise covered by the “Post-9/11 GI Bill”. The VA will continue to pay tuition and college fees for IRR refusers. Most IRR refusers, however, are continuing to receive full benefits under the “Post-9/11 GI Bill”. We do not yet know if this is penalty is still in the process of being implemented more broadly, or if it will continue to affect a relatively small number of individuals in an apparently arbitrary fashion.

The following are a few of the military benefits that are not affected by a “bad discharge” from the IRR:

  • Tuition and fees provided by the Post-9/11 GI Bill
  • Montgomery GI Bill
  • student loans
  • veteran loans
  • VA medical access
  • disability payments

We understand that this is a very important question, especially for those receiving disability and/or attending school.

The loss of benefits is probably the most common threat used against IRR resisters. The military notes the US Department of Veterans Affairs reserves the right to review certain benefits based on discharge status, including IRR discharge status; however, so far this has been limited to the housing and books allowances of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.