Senate Looks at G.I. Bill Fixes, 4/21/10 (Military.com)

April 28, 2010 | Other News

Veterans Report

Senate Looks at GI Bill Fixes
April 21, 2010

Several key players in the world of veterans education recently testified
before the Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs on the current and future
state of the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The following is the first of several
entries on this hearing.

Senators heard testimonies from representatives from the Department of
Veterans Affairs, DoD, The American Legion, the National Association of
Veteran Program Administrators (NAVPA), Nation Association of State
Approving Agencies, and the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
(IAVA). Each representative offered their assessment of implementation
process, limitations, and problems which have occurred since the Post-9/11
went into effect last August.

Keith Wilson, the VA?s Director of Education Service, testified that the
VA had made an extensive effort to get the word out about the new GI Bill
program. However, the Committee heard a different story from the other
panelists. When asked by the committee chairman, Sen. Akaka (HI), if given
the opportunity to change one single thing, what it would be? The general
consensus was to improve VA outreach. It appears that the VA view of
outreach differs significantly from the panel members.

While the VA made huge strides to get the word out through posters, social
networking and ad campaigns, in the eyes of those who administrate the
programs, the VA failed to provide consistent, reliable, concise training
and information on the policies and procedures required to get the
benefits to the veterans.

The problem is not limited to external communication issues. Faith
DeLauriers of NAVPA testified that school certifying officials are getting
conflicting information from the VA. The American Legion and IAVA
representatives also pointed to examples of veterans not getting the same
answer twice.

Of course none of this comes as a surprise to student veterans, after more
than a year of preparation, the remaining confusion surrounding the
Post-9/11 GI Bill is amazing. If veterans are fortunate enough to get
through to speak to a live representative, they often find that the
information conflicts with what they have read or heard.

But there was good news to come from the hearings. Sen. Akaka, announced
his plans to present legislation to the Senate to improve the benefits and
address the issues presented by the panel. Committee Ranking Member, Sen.
Richard Burr (NC), stated he was happy to be working with Sen. Akaka on
the draft bill. Some issues Akaka?s bill is likely to address are:

State-to-State Payment Inequities
Combining Tuition and Fees
Living Stipend for Online Students
Include expanded Vocational Training Programs
Improved Training for Staff and Schools

Senate hearing on Post-9/11 GI Bill <

Stay tuned we will focus on other aspects of the hearing in the coming

Terry Howell

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