Last week, the New York Times reported on delays veterans are having receiving their benefits under the new GI Bill:
Thousands of veterans attending college on the new G.I. Bill are having to take out loans, put off buying textbooks or dig into savings because of delays by the Department of Veterans Affairs in issuing benefit checks, veterans groups and college officials say.
The bill, which took effect Aug. 1, provides money to cover much, and often all, of the costs of attending college — including tuition, housing and books — for veterans who served in the military after Sept. 10, 2001.
As was anticipated, the new benefit enticed more than 277,000 veterans and their eligible relatives to apply for assistance. But the veterans department, with its antiquated technology, has struggled to keep up with the flood of claims.
On Friday, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki announced that the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has authorized emergency checks for up to $3,000 to be given to students who have applied for educational benefits and who have not yet received their payment:
Starting Friday, Oct. 2, 2009, students can go to one of VA's 57 regional benefit offices with a photo ID, a course schedule and an eligibility certificate to request advance payment of their housing and book allowance. Because not all these offices are located near students, VA expects to send representatives to schools with large Veteran-student bodies and work with Veteran Service Organizations to help students with transportation needs.
Speaker Pelosi on the announcement:
The decision by Secretary Shinseki and the VA to issue emergency payments for veterans who have not yet received their education benefits under the newly enacted GI Bill for the 21st Century will address an unacceptable situation many of our nation's heroes were facing due to outdated technology.
To recognize and reward the service of our troops, Congress passed the single largest investment in educational benefits for our veterans since World War II. Unfortunately, paperwork delays were forcing too many veterans to take out loans or seek out other financial assistance just to pay for the college education Congress promised them. With the quick action of the VA this week, our veterans will be able to focus on their studies, not the stresses of their education loans.
The GI Bill for the 21st Century is Congress' way of thanking our brave men and women in uniform for their service and ensuring that they are part of our country's economic recovery. Congress will continue to conduct oversight to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve in a timely manner.
If you are a veteran looking for more information: