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VA chief to student vets: ‘I can no longer pay’

VA chief to student vets: ‘I can no longer pay’

Unless additional mandatory funding for the operations of the Department of Veterans Affairs is allocated quickly, G.I. Bill benefits will soon be endangered. That was the word from VA Secretary Eric Shinseki Wednesday as he appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. Before a standing-room-only audience and with a full complement of committee members present, Shinseki spoke for well over two hours of the "all negative" consequences of a prolonged government shutdown and looming lack of funding for the veterans’ support agency.

He explained how the expected end-of-the-month exhaustion of VA’s congressionally mandated "carryover" funds, designed as a transition instrument from one fiscal year’s budget to the next, would negatively impact nearly every aspect of his agency’s operations.

Several committee members asked specifically about the effects a depletion of VA funds would have on students now attending institutions of higher learning under the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. One such inquiry came from Rep. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Calif.

"What will happen after November the first when they won’t get their money?" she asked. "Have you talked to the colleges and institutions and universities?"

Shinseki replied, "We are doing everything we can while we have mandatory funds available in at least two categories in which we will expend money to cover immediately. One is the retroactive aspects of a claim. So if someone …i s due money, (we will), to the best of our ability, pay those. And, for students currently in school, we will pay those as well.

"But that draws down this mandatory account I’m speaking about (so that) before the end of this month, it’ll be in a situation where I can no longer pay. And the (November first) payments that should be going out – we’ll not be able to do that unless more mandatory funding is provided."

Negrete McLeod then asked, "So, what happens to students … who have already started this semester or quarter?"

"This is a crucial question because for students who have already registered and had their tuition and fees (including book stipend) paid up front, I think they’re going to be okay," replied Shinseki. "Every situation is different. But, I will not be able to pay the monthly housing stipend. That would be an issue."

"I’m sure (the schools) are aware of our shenanigans here," Negrete McLeod said.

"I can assure you that we’ve reached out to schools and (are) doing the best we can to get their support and cooperation," Shinseki said. "But, the schools are not involved in the housing stipend. That’s directly from VA to the student. So, that is an issue. I will tell you (that) in my past experience the schools (honoring G.I. Bill benefits) have been quite cooperative. But, there are 6,000 of them, so we want to be sure that we have contact with all of them."

As a possible precedent, a number of institutions have announced temporary tuition payment relief for active-duty servicemember students receiving military tuition assistance.

In his testimony, Shinseki intimated that further VA staff furloughs, if necessitated by a lack of congressional accord, would prevent the agency from processing any new G.I. Bill benefit applications.

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Darrell Kennedy

November 13, 2013 - 3:47pm

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Anonymous

October 12, 2013 - 2:18pm

As a disabled vet attending school, I abhor the the foolishness of our elected officials. Those in Congress who would allow this are not going to be affected by this action. They will receive their paychecks, so what do they care about veterans, and others, not receiving our benefits? It is about time that we the people, start to hold our elected officials accountable for their actions. I feel that no votes on bills or other actions should be taken unless and until the bills are voted on by the people, and the officials then and only then should cast their votes accordingly. Second, the pay and benefits for Congress needs to be changed to more appropriately reflect the pay and benefits of the people. Congress can vote on their own pay raises and benefit packages. This is a farce. They should not have this right. Pay and benefits for elected officials should be established by the citizenry, and should be in alignment with pay and benefits for the private sector, in the middle of the pay structure, and not with those in the top. And third, just as the term limit is set for the Presidency at two terms, so should the terms of Congress be set. That way, no one will be able to remain in office long term and develop the longstanding relationships with lobbyists that exist today. It is way past time for "we the people" to stop just going to the polls and electing our leaders, but again, holding them accountable to us for allowing them the privilege to serve us. Bernard Suide, Student

Damn it

October 11, 2013 - 2:15pm

We have the best trained military in the world and we are letting a bunch of politicians ruin what we protect...

VET22

October 11, 2013 - 10:56am

When you continue to send billions in aid to other countries (just one example) and you borrow money to do it, where did everyone think we would end up? Fiscally irresponsible politicians have put us where we are and this did not happen overnight.

Damn it

October 11, 2013 - 2:04pm

Need to clean the idiots out of congress. They have never had to worry about hunger or paying their bills because our taxes pay them so well

Worried Vet

October 11, 2013 - 10:29am

I am a disabled vet going to school to retrain so that i can get a job and if i don't get paid my wife, children and i will be on the street because we can't pay our rent or utilities. thank you congress!

james dav

October 14, 2013 - 7:55pm

don't worry these clowns will get it together hopefully.

GB

October 11, 2013 - 10:06am

Stop the paychecks to the ASSHOLES in Congress, then see how fast they get funding passed. OH WAIT a minute, shutting off their pay won't hurt because most in Congress are rich BASTARDS. How about locking all of Congress in, and telling them no one is going anywhere till the funding issue is resolved. OH WAIT! that is cruel and unusually punishment. Someone might piss their pants. I guess there really is NOTHING that the poor SCREWED people can do.

mini vet

October 11, 2013 - 2:46am

I am just using the little ole VRAP program folks. Where do I fall, I wonder? I am already in school. My School is virtually free, continuing education. Got my first check to live one. Wonder where I will fall? Not worried, though. What will be will be. Life is too short to stress over our romper room government.

Phoebe

October 17, 2013 - 10:13pm

If you find out about how this affects VRAP, please post again. The problem with VRAP is that i had to pay the semester out of my own pocket, and (as you know) get "repaid" each month until I'm reimbursed. If VRAP can't pay me, it is now too late to withdraw from school and get my money back. Very, very unfair as VRAP is for unemployed vets!

damnit

October 10, 2013 - 6:08pm

this is what creates revolutions and uprisings. dumb politicians and very angry veterans

James dav

October 14, 2013 - 8:00pm

lock & load Obama admin put out nation wide police alert for veterans being consider terrorist

Ken 3345

October 10, 2013 - 4:32pm

Contact your local tea-baggers guys, maybe they have some of the Chinese cash they are getting they will be glad to loan you. At 50% per week.

james dav

October 14, 2013 - 7:57pm

hey talk to them just concerned citizens . Don't drink the koolaid better watch obamacare destroyiny VA

G44

October 11, 2013 - 3:04pm

Ken, You are just stupid. You have an infantile mind. Your comment makes no sense and only shows YOUR ignorance and lack of intellect. It is apparent that you, more than anyone, should make use of the vet education benefits. It could educate you some, which would be helpful, but unfortunately cant fill the entire vacancy where your brain should be. Liberalism is the most pathetic disease in this country and you are 100% afflicted.

BMC

October 13, 2013 - 1:41am

@G44, Redundant much? Perhaps you might look into being Ken's study buddy. It is always best to pause before sending when your emotions write a note, in order to ensure you do not look as poor as the person you attack. Then again, I suspect Ken was a bit miffed too. Ya Think?

carse

October 11, 2013 - 12:30pm

Try contacting your local Democrat Marxist/Socialist, who refuses to compromise.

G44

October 11, 2013 - 3:07pm

Amen brother. You are absolutely on point. The Marxist in Chief is in the process of dismantling & destroying this country with the willing assistance of the Socialist/Marxist Democrat party. God save us.

Tripwire

October 11, 2013 - 9:59am

@Ken - no need for your childish drivel and political finger pointing on this topic. Now, go get back to being the village idiot.

VET1

October 10, 2013 - 4:02pm

And here we go again! We put aside our education to serve our country, some of us for over 20 years, and this is how we are treated when trying to further ourselves. Put the darn Senate and Congressmen and women on furlough and give us there darn paychecks! They furloughed everyone else and aren't paying them! I bet they come up with a solution within a day!!!!!!! Just Sayin!!!!

Eric Prestegaard

October 10, 2013 - 3:56pm

Why is the Legion silent on what is happening to vets? The House has passed measures to help vets and active duty, yet the Senate has not acted. The Legion needs to be heard. Where is the vet voice? No time to be politically correct now, the Legion should stand up and call for theh President to open the vet memorials and pay the vets.

Ken3455

October 10, 2013 - 4:30pm

Contact you local tea-bagger on that !

G44

October 11, 2013 - 3:11pm

Ken, The House has passed over a dozen budget proposals, as required by the Constitution. The Senate, Harry Reid supporting the President, REFUSE to even vote on them. The PROBLEM is not Republicans or TEA Party, but Democrats. The Executive (President) can direct what funds we have to wherever he chooses, so where there is a shortage, it is directly assignable to Obama. Ken, go take a civics class so you don't appear so ignorant.

Karen1956

October 10, 2013 - 10:54pm

Ken what are you smoking? The tea baggers are not responsible for all of this crap. Take a strong look at the commander and Chief whining because his latest vacation has been scrapped ..what a joke....just saying

Carse

October 11, 2013 - 6:11pm

Just proves beyond a shadow of a doubt Democrats care about power and money. They know the vote count and the VA counts mostly against Democrats.

Candace

October 10, 2013 - 3:09pm

So... because my tuition is already paid I should be fine? Except that I have daycare costs to cover while I go to school, and I live an hour from my school so need gas to get to school... But I'll be fine.

VET

October 10, 2013 - 2:07pm

This is just one more way I have gotten screwed by this countries government.

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