by Patrick Campbell
Today, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), the nation's first and largest non-partisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, issued the following statement in response to the delay of payments from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to the colleges and universities attended by student veterans pursuing their education on the new Post-9/11 GI Bill:
"Veterans are extremely concerned about the status of their GI Bill payments from the VA, and they should be. The VA has issued checks to approximately less than 11% of the 277,403 veterans who have applied for their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. This is absolutely unacceptable. Delayed payments are forcing veterans to take out loans or pay out of pocket for costs the VA promised to cover. The men and women who so courageously served our country in Iraq and Afghanistan deserve better.
Because of a slow and outdated system, veterans are being forced to wait an average of thirty-five days per claim. This is one week longer than it took in August. This trend cannot continue. This lengthy and unpredictable waiting period is causing widespread confusion among veterans who are wondering if their check will arrive in fifteen or ninety days. The VA is increasingly running the risk of losing the confidence of the newest generation of veterans.
Secretary Shinseki and the VA must do more. They must move quickly, aggressively and with total transparency. IAVA is committed to pushing the White House and the VA to address this problem without haste. We don't want to hear from another member that he/she has been forced to decide whether to foot the bill or drop out of school because of they have no idea when their GI Bill check will come."