Thousands of veterans attending college thanks to the GI Bill have had their housing allowances delayed or go missing altogether, according to an NBC News report published on Veterans Day.
As of Nov. 8, more than 82,000 veterans were waiting on their housing payments with only weeks left in the current school session, and many more are believed to have been impacted, NBC News reports.
When the Forever GI Bill was signed into law in 2017, the legislation greatly expanded benefits for vets and their families, but it also required that the Department of Veterans Affairs change how housing allowances would be calculated. Previously, housing payments were calculated based on the location of the college's main campus — the Forever GI Bill calls for the allowances to be calculated based on where the classes are attended, according to Stars and Stripes.
And that’s where the problems began: technical issues surrounding the new calculations led to hundreds of thousands of veterans receiving reduced housing allowance payments, Stars and Stripes’reported in September.
The problem appears to have grown since then, with many veterans reporting delays, or missing housing payments altogether, forcing some veteran students to move out of their apartments and live with family and friends while working towards their degree.
In October, Nikki Wentling of Stars and Stripes spoke to 14 veteran students in 14 states who "received either the wrong amount or no housing allowance at all. Some of them called the VA and waited on hold until they gave up, and others reached out to their elected representatives. Six mentioned the lack of payment affected their ability to pay their rent or other bills."
"This is — to be kind — a train wreck,” Rep. Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee told NBC News. “It’s really frustrating the amount of money that Congress has appropriated for veterans, and this is the way VA has rolled it out. This discussion started over a year ago.”
Have your GI Bill housing allowance payments been delayed, or gone missing altogether? Email James Clark at James@taskandpurpose.com.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said that the Forever GI Bill calls for housing allowances to be calculated based on where a veteran student lives. It has been updated to reflect that payments are based on where the classes are attended.
An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington, June 15, 2005. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the Guantanamo prison against critics who want it closed by saying U.S. taxpayers have a big financial stake in it and no other facility could replace it at a Pentagon briefing on Tuesday. (Reuters/Jason Reed JIR/CN)
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The Marine lieutenant colonel removed from command of the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion in May was ousted over alleged "misconduct" but has not been charged with a crime, Task & Purpose has learned.
Lt. Col. Francisco Zavala, 42, who was removed from his post by the commanding general of 1st Marine Division on May 7, has since been reassigned to the command element of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, and a decision on whether he will be charged is "still pending," MEF spokeswoman 1st Lt. Virginia Burger told Task & Purpose last week.
"We are not aware of any ongoing or additional investigations of Lt. Col. Zavala at this time," MEF spokesman 2nd Lt. Brian Tuthill told Task & Purpose on Monday. "The command investigation was closed May 14 and the alleged misconduct concerns Articles 128 and 133 of the UCMJ," Tuthill added, mentioning offenses under military law that deal with assault and conduct unbecoming an officer and gentleman.
"There is a period of due process afforded the accused and he is presumed innocent until proven guilty," he said.
When asked for an explanation for the delay, MEF officials directed Task & Purpose to contact 1st Marine Division officials, who did not respond before deadline.
The investigation of Zavala, completed on May 3 and released to Task & Purpose in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, showed that he had allegedly acted inappropriately. The report also confirmed some details of his wife's account of alleged domestic violence that Task & Purpose first reported last month.