Repay Veterans Benefits – With Interest, Duckworth Says
Secretary Robert Wilkie and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has come under fire in recent weeks for the delinquent payments of benefits due to as many as 82,000 student veterans. The backlog of “Forever GI Bill” benefits, which escalated in August, has been attributed to technology issues and insufficient training.
On Thursday, Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) urged the VA to fully repay every Veteran – with interest – the benefits they are owed. “VA’s inability to implement these key provisions has caused significant hardship for thousands of Veteran students. As a result, many Veterans were unable to pay rent, tuition, buy books or put food on the table when the 2018 fall semester began,” Duckworth wrote. “VA was still unprepared even though they were given more than $4 billion a year for information technology improvements and had over a year to prepare for the changes required under the law. It is critical that the VA make Veterans whole for any missed or underpaid benefits to which they are legally entitled, regardless of the burden it may place on the VA.”
There is additional concern that because many of these Veteran students have been unable to make their housing payments, their credit ratings could be impacted and potentially lead to long term financial harm as a result of this crisis.
“Those Veterans who fell behind on their housing payments or were evicted will receive adverse marks on credit reports that may result in a lifetime of hardship,” Duckworth wrote individually to the Chief Executive Officers of Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. “After the storm has passed, Veterans may continue to struggle to open future bank accounts, start businesses and secure loans as a result of VA’s failures. As the leader of a major credit reporting bureau, you possess the power and resources to make sure our Veterans’ financial futures are not harmed. While it is too late to prevent certain Veterans from experiencing eviction or dipping into savings as a result of VBA payment errors, you can still prevent lasting damage by working with VA and other relevant entities.”
In late November, VA Undersecretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence told lawmakers, “Each and every veteran on the post-9/11 GI Bill will be made 100 percent whole — retroactively if need be — for their housing benefits for this academic year based on the current uncapped DoD rates, and, beginning in spring 2020, we will be in a position to provide veterans with the new rates where applicable to meet the law known as the Forever GI Bill.”
In The News
AUSTIN, Texas-- In Texas this week, a bipartisan bill to develop a study on the use of psychedelic therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate. “We are losing over 20 veterans a day to suicide in the United States.... Read More
WASHINGTON - The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America on Thursday cheered Senate passage of the Deborah Sampson Act, which directs the Department of Veterans Affairs to carry out the three-year pilot program to assess how best to provide assistance to women veterans. The pilot program,... Read More
WASHINGTON - Right now, it's just a hub of activity behind a construction area awning at the foot of Capitol Hill, but come Nov. 11 the site, on the grounds of the National Museum of the American Indian, will be transformed into the National Native American... Read More
LANGHORNE, Pa. — Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, D-Pa., Derek Kilmer, D-Wash., and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., brought forth a bill that would ensure disabled veterans can fully utilize their benefits following disruptions in veterans’ health care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in March 2020, the novel coronavirus... Read More
WASHINGTON — When Rosie Torres first knocked on Congress’ doors almost a decade ago, asking for help for her husband and other veterans who became sick following exposure to military burn pits, she gained little traction. What she heard: More research was needed to determine if... Read More
As the U.S. struggles to fight off a lingering coronavirus pandemic, the full impact of the crisis on the lives of Americans is just starting to come into view. But for the veteran community -- as for many other groups -- the crisis has already taken... Read More