The official blog of American Veteran Magazine, the national quarterly publication of AMVETS.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Post-9/11 G.I. Bill Update: VA Emergency Check Collections

VA announced this week that it will send a second round of notifications to veterans who took advantage of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill emergency checks in the fall semester.

According to Military Times, VA plans to offer several repayment options for veterans, including possible debt waivers for those experiencing financial hardships.

AMVETS leaders were surprised to hear of VA's recoupment plan earlier this year and continue to call on VA to hold off on collections until all back pay issues from the fall semester have been sorted out.

AMVETS continues to receive e-mails and phone calls from concerned veterans who have received some payments, but for whom back pay from fall semester remains a critical missing piece.

VA recently told AMVETS that a high percentage of emergency checks may have been issued to ineligible active duty personnel around military installations, prompting VA to seek swift recovery of its funds. However, AMVETS leaders remain concerned that casting a wide net to recover bad checks could lead to more headaches for legitimate student-veterans.

"While we understand that VA wants to collect from folks who didn't deserve checks in the first place, many recipients of Chapter 33 are struggling to make ends meet because they haven't received their back pay from the fall," said AMVETS National Legislative Director Ray Kelley. "VA's focus should be on ensuring that this money is provided to these veterans before adding another stress by insisting on recoupment of the emergency payment."

AMVETS originally suggested a similar emergency payment program to VA in late August, when reports of Post-9/11 G.I. Bill delays started to surface. VA implemented its emergency check program in October with the intent of recovering check funds quickly once the backlog was sorted out.

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