February 1, 2007 | Other News
For your information. I believe that this is important and could even be happening in some of the CUNY colleges. We all need to be aware of this, espically the Liaisons. Read on..Joe Bello
Veterans Misled About MGIB-SR
NAVPA | January 29, 2007
Veterans Misled About New GI Bill Education Benefits
NEW HAVEN, Conn. â€“ Some citizen soldiers returning to college from duty in the war are being misinformed about their eligibility for continued GI Bills payments after they stop drilling with the Guard or Reserve.
In 2005, the government enacted new GI Bill benefits (known as 1607 or â€œREAPâ€), which makes Guard and Reserve troops who return from the war eligible for education payments similar to active duty troops.
â€œThe problem starts when war veterans return to their Reserve or Guard unit and their unit leadership tells them if they stop drilling, then they automatically lose their education benefits,â€ said Jack Mordente, president of the National Association of Veterans Program Administrators (NAVPA).
Mordente, director of veteranâ€™s affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven, has assisted veterans with education benefits for 31 years. In May 2006, Mordente found returning troops were getting the wrong information. Colleagues from other colleges around the country are reporting similar situations.
Through discussions with ranking personnel at the Department Of Veterans Affairs, Mordente confirmed that 1607 recipients could revert back to the original Reserve GI Bill â€“ known as 1606 – upon discharge from paid drill status. They can then use their remaining 1606 entitlement for the number of months they were activated plus four more months. Furthermore, multiple periods of activation can be added together.
â€œState and unit-level military leaders and school veteransâ€™ counselors donâ€™t know the facts because the VA and the Department of Defense have not made the legal rights of these war veterans widely known,â€ Mordente said. Recently, as a result of Mordenteâ€™s discovery, the VA changed their website to reflect the correct information.
The DoD, however, disagrees with the VAâ€™s interpretation of the law. Select Reserve members are told they lose their GI Bill if they leave paid drill status. Yet, if they file a claim with the VA they will be paid? â€œWhatâ€™s wrong with this pictureâ€? â€œHow does the DoD get away with ignoring a law they signed?â€ Mordente said.
The government owes Guard and Reservists access to accurate information to help them make decisions â€“ especially when pursuing a costly higher education program.
How many veterans are affected? Itâ€™s unknown exactly, but the DOD can determine who are eligible. The VA can then notify those who continued in school and pay them retroactively. (When veteransâ€™ personal information was compromised from a stolen computer, the VA spent more than $17 million to send out mass mailings to inform veterans).
What about those who didnâ€™t go to school because they were mis-informed? How can they be compensated? NAVPA is seeking legislation to extend the provision of the law and direct the DOD and VA to coordinate a major endeavor to contact eligible veterans and afford them the opportunity to use the benefits they earned.
Meanwhile, veterans have been waiting up to four months to receive their GI Bill payments.
â€œWith the implementation of 1607 and the beginning of the school year, the VA has not been able to keep up with demandâ€, Mordente said. â€œI have veterans who have to live on credit cards while they wait for their checks. Who will pay the interest?â€