Article, Military.com- Post-9/11 GI Bill Update, 5/18/10

May 26, 2010 | Other News

Veterans News
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Post-9/11 GI Bill Update, May 2010
May 18, 2010

By Terry Howell

When the Post-9/11 GI Bill was first signed into law the general consensus
was that it was the greatest benefit package since the advent of the
original GI Bill in 1944. And, on balance it is. Among other benefits, the
Post-9/11 GI Bill offers veterans the opportunity to earn a degree without
having to pay any tuition, it offers a generous living stipend which can
be as much $2,800 a month, and book stipend of up to $1000 a year.

However, this new benefit program has not been without its issues. Chief
among these is a series of glitches which have resulted in late payments,
over and under payments, emergency advance payments, and most recently, an
error-ridden recoupment process.

All of these glitches are the symptoms of trying to force a complicated
21st century benefits program into a 20th century manual process. Not that
the Department of Veterans Affairs has not made some errors while getting
this program online, but the issues with implementation are the result of
congressional pressure to launch a program before the infrastructure was
in place to handle it.

Some Good News

The VA will soon reach their next implementation milestone which will
enable them to use their new automation to process eligibility claims and
make changes to existing claims more quickly and efficiently.

In addition, Keith Wilson, director of VA?s education service, is
reporting that an audit by the VA Inspector General is looking into the
payment issues and hopes to sort out the payment and recoupment issues
soon. The final millstone for the implementation project is set for
December, 31 of this year. The hope is that once the new automation
process reaches it full stride veterans will rarely see the type of
payment problems they are currently experiencing.

Ongoing Concerns

Many veterans, school representatives, and veterans? groups have pointed
out that there are several major issues, which are not related to the
glitch ridden implementation process. For example, under the new Post-9/11
GI Bill, distance learning students (online and correspondence) are not
eligible to receive the living stipend; vocational and technical training
programs are limited and on-the-job training is not covered;
transferability is limited to current servicemembers; Guardsman only earn
time toward the benefit if they are under title 10 orders; and tuition and
fee payment rates are too complicated and tend to price private schools
and graduate programs out of the equation for many veterans.

The American Council on Education (ACE) recently held the ?Veterans
Success Jam? ? a three-day online chat session ? in an effort to surface
the issues being faced by veteran students and identify possible fixes for
the Post 9/11 GI Bill. Their final results and detailed recommendations
are currently being tabulated, but, preliminary results show that most
critics of the new GI Bill would like to see Congress take action to fix
the GI Bill as soon as possible.

Since 2008, several fixes to the GI Bill have been offered in both the
House and Senate, yet none have gotten any traction. This year, being a
mid-term election year, holds what some consider the last promise for
substantive change and improvement for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

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