NAICU Washington Update

Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Holds Oversight Hearing on Post-9/11 GI Bill

April 26, 2010

The Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs explored implementation of the post-9/11 GI Bill in an oversight hearing held April 21. (Hearing testimony and Webcast)  To date, over $2.7 billion in payments have been made on behalf of approximately 246,000 individuals.

The Committee heard from officials of the Departments of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Defense (DOD), as well as state and institutional program administrators, and representatives of veterans' organizations.   

The VA witnesses discussed the progress of the VA's efforts to upgrade its computer systems to permit more timely and accurate claims processing.  Recent processing issues have included the collection of overpayments made as a result of the $3,000 advance payments issued in the early months of the program and technical difficulties in calculating accurate housing allowance data.  The VA officials also reported that there are now 1,300 "Yellow Ribbon" agreements at 1,100 institutions.

The DOD witness discussed the role of the department in the program, including its responsibility to review requests for the transfer of benefits to the dependents of eligible service members.  To date, DOD has approved approximately 105,000 transfer requests on behalf of 240,000 family members.

The other witnesses spoke highly of the program, but described a range of problems associated with its implementation - including processing delays, payment delays, and inconsistent communications.  In addition, some witnesses expressed support for expanding the program (1) to make program benefits available to the active reserve and (2) to pay for study at non-degree institutions as well as apprenticeship and on-the-job training programs. 

Committee Chairman Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii) stated his intention to introduce legislation before Memorial Day to make changes in the law.  He indicated his bill would be a "starting point" for discussion of a comprehensive set of amendments.


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