Washington (DC) During today’s hearing on the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Claims Processing System, Congressman Al Green (TX-09) submitted for the record, a letter he recently sent to Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth Sandlin, Chair of the House Veterans’ Affairs’ Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. In the letter, Congressman Green commended the Department of Veterans Affairs and the committee for its hard work on behalf of our nation’s veterans, but implored them to use all available resources to alleviate the huge backlog of education claims.
In addressing the Subcommittee Chair, Congressman Green referred to a recent KHOU broadcast that featured Houston residents who have been adversely affected by the delays in processing their benefit claims. In the letter, Congressman Green expressed “particular concern that some veterans residing in his district have not received their 2009 payments and that the current backlog in education claims may negatively affects students enrolled in the Spring, 2010 semester.”
According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 27,000 veterans across the nation were still waiting for their education benefits. “Through no fault of their own, this delay in the distribution of GI Bill benefits has many Houston veterans resorting to extreme measures just to make ends meet. We can and must do a better job of honoring the service of our veterans who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our nation,” stated Congressman Green.
To help address this large backlog, Congress provided $150 million to increase the number of Department of Veterans Affairs’ claims processing staff under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). In addition, ARRA provided $50 million to improve the automation of the processing of veterans’ benefits to get benefits out sooner and more accurately. Congressman Green voted to approve this funding.
“I was pleased to see that Congress approved new funding to help address the staffing shortage and to improve the automation of education claims. While these efforts have helped, much more is needed to ensure veterans are not forced to decide between paying for school and paying for rent because of the delay in receiving their GI Bill payments,” said Congressman Green.