Washington (DC), October 8, 2009.- Today, U.S. Congressman Al Green (TX-09) praised the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for quickly responding to the needs of our student veterans by providing emergency checks under the new G.I. Bill.
Thousands of veterans who applied for educational benefits under the program have not received their payments due to delayed processing and bureaucracy and these emergency checks will help them make payments towards books and housing.
“No veteran should have to dip into their savings or postpone buying books for class because of outdated technology and backed-up claims,” said Congressman Green. “I’m very glad the VA has acted swiftly to remedy this problem, because it ensures that our brave veterans will have the resources they need to take full advantage of the new G.I. Bill college benefits they were promised. I hope that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans in the Texas 9th Congressional District will take advantage of this program.”
The checks for up to $3,000 started being distributed to eligible students at VA regional offices across the country on October 2. Students can go to one of the 57 regional benefit offices with a photo ID, a course schedule and a certificate of eligibility to request payment of their housing and books, as allowed under the program. Students can also apply online at www.va.gov or request free van service, provided by volunteers, to carry them to the nearest VA regional office. To obtain this service, veterans should call their nearest VA medical center and ask for the “Volunteer Transportation Coordinator.”
The distributed money will be deducted from future payments, which are expected to arrive on the normal schedule – the beginning of the month following the period for which they are being reimbursed. Veterans who apply for the emergency benefits online will receive their payments in the mail after processing.
Last year, the Democratic-led Congress enacted the new G.I. Bill to restore the promise of a full, four-year college education for Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. Qualified veterans were able to apply for the new college benefits beginning in May of 2009, and started receiving tuition benefits in August, along with housing and book stipends which are paid retroactively. Almost 300,000 claims have been submitted for the program.
“This Congress made a pledge to leave no veteran behind, and we are working hard to ensure that the men and women who sacrificed so much for our country get the very best care and the services and benefits they’ve earned in a timely manner,” said Congressman Green.
A list of regional VA offices is available at: www.vba.va.gov/VBA/benefits/offices.asp. The VA is also working with Veteran Services Organizations to send representatives to campuses with large veteran student bodies and to help students access the regional offices.