Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Heads OUT of the sand!

I'm in an argument on Facebook right now over a link I posted that one of my friends re-posted.

It was this story from Alex's blog: The Politics of Purse Strings.

I shared his post with hopes of getting the word out about the problems with the new GI Bill. You really, really need to read the whole thing, but here's a small part:

Under the old bill, Chapter 30, the student must call a hot line on the last day of the month to certify that their status has not changed since the previous month. The payment is then sent to the student in seven to ten days. It has become a ritual for veteran students, a promise to see that beautiful deposit in a week's time. But today, some who have submitted paperwork for Chapter 33 might find the certification for Chapter 30 a bit of a challenge. My school's VA counselor assured a seamless transition - he told me those who were switching over would get paid for the months they already paid tuition for. Once again, someone forgot to forward the memo. Since my claim for Chapter 33 is still being processed, I'm locked out of Chapter 30. Even though I paid for the summer semester, I am not getting paid for August. My case is in limbo, familiar territory for the VA. My bills, on the other hand, are very clearly defined. They pile up as fast as the VA's backlogs.
You know, this is the sort of shit anyone who supports the military needs to be up in arms about. It pissed me the hell off when I first read about it, and I've been considering posting about it & checking Army of Dude and Rucksack to Backpack to see what they said about it, with the intention of adding my voice to it.

It does no good to say "But the new GI Bill is great! My husband will be able to transfer his benefits to me!" Let me be clear: I know that. I knew that before it was ever signed into law. I know what the new GI Bill is SUPPOSED to do. What it's SUPPOSED to do is wonderful. But what it's DOING is fucking people over yet again.

I am not content to say "Oh, well, the system works most of the time!" Because, you know what? It doesn't. Only someone who has zero experience with the Veterans' Administration would ever say that. Now that those words are out in cyberspace, a bunch of people who work at the VA are now laughing hysterically, and they're not quite sure why. Never before have I seen the VA accused of competence!

Further, I was told that we need to spread the good news, not concentrate on the bad stuff. Fuck that. No, what we need to do is spread the good news when there is good news, and shout it from the goddamned rooftops when our guys are being bent over again. The military doesn't use lube, y'all.

This isn't just Alex's problem. It's the problem of damn near a quarter million veterans. According to the VA, almost 500,000 vets will be attending college this year. This means a minimum 40% of the applications have yet to be processed. I've been told the issue is one faced by a minority (and, quite recently, that it's probably their own fault). Forty percent is a substantial quantity. (And if the projected increase falls short, it only grows--minus the projected 30% increase, the number of unprocessed claims would jump to about 60% of all college-going veterans.)

I don't think it's doing them a disservice if we all ask where the hell their money is. They fought and bled and buried their friends for us, the damned least we can do is pay attention to what they need and be willing to fight for it. Really.

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