Lawmaker on GI Bill delays: ‘A lot of people are out there struggling right now’

Matt Saintsing
October 11, 2018 - 5:26 pm

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The delays of GI Bill housing payments is a top concern for the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, and he’s confident student veterans will be made whole.

In an interview with KCBS’s Rebecca Carrol, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) assured anyone who is missing their housing allowance payments can expect to be paid eventually, although he did not provide a timeline.

He began the interview by championing the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act—dubbed the Forever GI Bill. 

“The Post 9/11 GI Bill was expanded for a lifetime benefit, and it is a phenomenal benefit,” he said. 

“Purple heart winners who maybe have not served as long a time, if you shed blood for the country, I felt, and the Committee felt, and Congress felt you should earn the GI Bill for a lifetime.”

He also spoke to VA’s frustrations in processing certifications. 

“In August [VA ] said ‘there may be a hiccup, it may be in two weeks,’” said Roe. He then appealed directly to veterans. 

“Let me just cut straight to the chase, so there are veterans out there that are listening. One, probably all of you are being paid the wrong amount, the one percent increase nobody is getting.”

Roe added that VA officials assured him, and the rest of the committee, that users of the GI Bill will begin to see the correct funds, once the VA gets their act together. 

"The good news is, eventually, if you’ve been overpaid they are not going to claw back their money – you keep what you got,” he said. “If you’ve been underpaid you will get your money.”

The issue of delayed housing payments is due to a technical glitch in implementing the Forever GI Bill, which signed into law last year. Hundreds of thousands of student veterans have received incorrect amounts, while some have yet to see any money hit their bank accounts. 

That’s forced several GI Bill users to borrow money from family, take out emergency loans, or fall behind on their bills. 

The VA contacted student veterans directly earlier this week and encouraged them to call 1-888-442-4551 if they are impacted, which Roe mentioned in his interview. 

“A lot of people are out there struggling right now, and we are leaning on [ VA ] as hard as we can,” he said. “The money is there, appropriated, and this bill is fully paid for.”

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