Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Complications with the "new G.I. Bill"

Today's Early Bird featured a nugget from the Associated Press about the first students to receive financial aid under the "Post 9/11 G.I. Bill," passed last year.

Facing a rush of last-minute claims, the Department of Veterans Affairs has cut housing checks to tens of thousands of veterans returning to college under the newly expanded GI Bill, but officials acknowledge that several thousand could get their money later than expected.

With the academic year recently under way, yesterday was the first day many veterans were due their first monthly housing stipends, which range from under $1,000 to upward of $2,500 depending on factors including location.

So this sounds great, right? Some delays, but really, why would the VA expect a "rush of last minute claims"?

Enter Alex, a young veteran, student, and the author of the really well-written blog Army of Dude.

When the Post 9/11 Bill passed through Congress with a veto-proof majority, I cheered. When it was signed into law, I was elated. But on August 1 of this year, when the bill went live after almost three years of legislation, hopes, dreams and well-wishes, I was silent. I did not want to commemorate a non-event as a moment of triumph. I took part in lobbying on Capitol Hill for the bill when it was just that - a scrap of paper that promised financial security in a post-Army life where almost everything feels uncertain and nebulous. I knew it would take at least a month after August 1 to see how it would play out. Through fears that the VA would fumble this rare opportunity to make good on a solemn promise made by FDR sixty five years ago, I watched August crawl by, swept up in a lazy mosaic of final exams and term papers that capped a full semester. With the old GI Bill in hand and the new one on the way, I took a leap of faith. With my bank account dwindling and rent, utility bills, school tuition and other obligations on the table, coupled with the advice of my VA counselor, I bet it all on the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

And I lost.

Go read about the depressing details of his experience here.

Army of Dude is one of those blogs that I check in on every few weeks, and every time I scold myself for not reading more regularly. Bet you'll feel the same.

1 comment:

  1. Before reading the Army of Dude link, I was a bit leery of a former Soldier airing his misfortune online. There seems to be a propensity among some to flaunt their veteran status and use it as victim status, due to the current high regard in which veterans are held. But, that was before reading it. After reading it, I think that he has some good points. That said...

    I don't know. Maybe I am just accustomed to expecting more of Soldiers and veterans, to assume that they can easily overcome challenges that my current civilian peers rip their hair out and "stress out" over. When I ETS'd, I had a six-figure bank account and no debt. How could I not after years of service, 90% of which was spent either in the field or on deployment? Was that guy's experience significantly different? Granted, I was single, no kids - maybe not the case for some. But geez. Where did the deployment money go? I'm thinking now about the majority of my Soldiers who would manage to save tens of thousands of dollars on a year-long deployment and then, two months after redeployment, "need" an AER loan because they spent it all at the strip club, liquor store, and car dealership. Again - I'm not assuming that Dude was that irresponsible, but deployments gave most of us a pretty sweet cash buffer.

    Am I too skeptical?

    ReplyDelete