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Monthly Stipends Delayed For 11,000 Disabled Vets Because Of A ‘Glitch’
There are a lot of perks to joining the military: There’s that sense of pride you feel after saving ‘Merica from nefarious evil-doers; the chance to look muy Rico Suave in a sporty dress uniform; and, of course, all those heard-earned Veterans Affairs bennies.
The same bennies that thousands of disabled veterans missed out on last month due to technical difficulties, the Washington Post reported Feb. 2. Some 11,000 veterans enrolled in the departments Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E;) program had their subsistence allowance payments delayed because of a “computer glitch.” The VR&E; program matches severely disabled veterans with employers, internships, and pays for college credit.
The Washington Post, which broke the story, cited an internal memo it obtained from the VA advising employees to apologize to vets impacted by the tech error and to assure them their pay was on the way. Said payments should have gone out on Jan. 31, but were delayed until Feb. 6.
Sure, having the government send out a late paycheck while you’re enlisted and living in the barracks sucks; it’s a bit different when you’re an injured vet, going to school, working a job, and juggling those responsibilities with family life and bills.
“Any large bureaucracy has their glitches, but anytime veterans are not getting their benefits on time, especially when on a program like this, it’s a real hardship,” Garry Augustine, the executive director of Disabled American Veterans, told The Washington Post.
This is hardly the first time the VA has had computer issues. In late November, the long-awaited veteran ID card program hit a snag when the website crashed, and would-be users became trapped in a hellish merry-go-round of browser errors that led nowhere. (Task & Purpose covered this experience previously.)
Fortunately, the VA has “already identified the source of the problem and fixed it so it does not occur again in the future,” Curt Cashour, the department’s press secretary told Task & Purpose.
Which is good, because I can’t imagine it was a great week for the IT folks when 11,000 understandably disgruntled veterans began calling to inquire about their delayed payments, or how that conversation went when they were told “your check is in the mail.”
MONS, Belgium (Reuters) - The United States will send 20,000 troops to Europe next April and May in its biggest military exercises on European soil since the Cold War to underscore Washington's commitment to NATO, a senior allied commander said on Tuesday.
Days after a NATO summit in London at which U.S. President Donald Trump called low-spending European allies "delinquent", U.S. Major General Barre Seguin said the exercises, centered on Germany, will be the largest of their kind in 25 years.
"This really demonstrates transatlantic unity and the U.S. commitment to NATO," Seguin, who oversees allied operations from NATO's military headquarters in Belgium, told Reuters.
Gold Star family members might finally see an end to the so-called "Widows Tax" thanks to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2020.
The top Pentagon watchdog has announced it would be investigating all deaths of recruits during initial military training over the past five years, the agency said in a statement last week.
In a Dec. 4 memo, the DoD Inspector General said it was changing the scope of an investigation it had opened on Nov. 18 that was titled Evaluation of Medical Resources and Guidance to Trainers at Recruit Training Centers in the DoD. Its new title, the IG said, would be Evaluation of Medical Protocols and Deaths of Recruits in the DoD.
While its original objective of looking into the medical resources available to recruits would remain the same, the IG said it would now also review all deaths of recruits at military basic training facilities between Jan. 1, 2015 and Dec. 31, 2019.
The move comes in the wake of several deaths at basic training facilities over the past year. In April, the Navy announced a safety review after two prospective sailors died at its recruit training facility in Great Lakes, Illinois. Seaman Recruit Kelsey Nobles died after a fitness test that month; Seaman Recruit Kierra Evans also died after the run portion of the fitness test.
In September, an 18-year-old soldier died following a "medical emergency" before a training drill at Fort Jackson, S.C.
Meanwhile, the Marine Corps has disciplined more than 20 Marines over misconduct at its San Diego boot camp since 2017, according to The Washington Post. The action came in the wake of a scandal involving the death of a 20-year-old Muslim recruit named Raheel Siddiqui, who fell 40 feet to his death at the Parris Island training facility, where he and other Muslims were targeted for abuse by their drill instructor (the instructor was later sentenced to 10 years in prison at court-martial).
According to the IG, Pentagon investigators will visit all DoD recruit training facilities and interview personnel from each service's education and training commands. They will also speak with personnel at military medical facilities, the Defense Health Agency, and those assigned at the Military Entrance Processing Command, which does the initial intake for civilians going into military service.
The number of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct against senior Army officials increased this year, according to an Army Inspector General report recently presented to service leaders and obtained by Task & Purpose.
The document, which lays out broad details of IG investigations undertaken in fiscal year 2019, looks at investigations specific to senior Army officials, which includes "promotable colonels, general officers and senior executives," according to Army spokesman Lt. Col. Emanuel Ortiz.
Marine Corps senior leaders have begun to express cautious openness to the idea of making the service's boot camps fully co-ed. But if Congress has its way, the service may be pushed toward full integration sooner than expected.
The final conference version of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act includes a provision that would require the service to integrate both its East Coast and West Coast entry-level training facilities within the next eight years.