Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet this week sent a letter to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Robert Wilkie, urging the VA to provide additional details about its efforts to expedite processing of living stipend payments for veterans receiving Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits. According to reports, the payments of approximately 1,500 GI Bill students at Colorado State University have been affected. The U.S. House Committee on Veterans Affairs held a hearing today, November 15, to address the nationwide issue.
According to recent media reports, on-going problems with VA’s IT system have resulted in many veterans not receiving the living stipend payments they use to pay for education and housing expenses in a timely manner, causing significant financial strain and hardship for veterans attempting to use the benefits they earned from their military service. The senators requested additional details about efforts to fix the issue and urged the VA confirm it will not retroactively collect overpayments to students resulting from other IT issues.
“For many of our nation’s veterans, the living stipend payments were expected by September 1, 2018, and the multi-month delays create a real crisis to not only their long-term education and career goals, but also their daily needs,” the senators wrote. “Regardless of what caused or is causing the delay, we believe it is imperative for VA to address this issue with the urgency it deserves. We will not stop pressing for information and action until every veteran receives the benefits they earned in their service to our country.”
“As a nation we have a responsibility to be there for our veterans, and part of that duty involves fulfilling our promise to ensure they have access to education after they leave the service,” the senators added. “These errors and delays undermine the intent of the GI Bill and put unnecessary and avoidable strain on veterans and their families during a critical time of transition.”
It is believed hundreds of thousands of veterans receiving GI Bill benefits have been impacted by VA’s processing delays, including more than 82,000 veterans who were still waiting to receive their housing payment as of November 8 according to VA data. In addition to Bennet, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) joined the letter.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.