VA takes Legion's advice, offers financial help to student veterans

VA says it is preparing to issue checks – in amounts up to $3,000 – to student veterans awaiting overdue Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. VA Secretary Eric Shinseki made the announcement Sept. 25, after reports from The American Legion and other veterans service organizations indicated that many student veterans are experiencing undue financial hardships. Some veterans reportedly have borrowed money or taken extracurricular work to pay tuition, fees and other educational expenses.

According to Shinseki’s office, emergency checks will be available to eligible students through VA regional offices, beginning Oct. 1.

“It is heartening to see the secretary and his department responding so swiftly and decisively to this unfortunate situation,” National Commander Clarence Hill said. “This is a brand new benefits program, instituted just weeks ago, so some startup glitches are to be expected.”

VA’s willingness to rectify the problem should be applauded, Hill said. “Our veteran students should be free to concentrate on their studies, rather than be worried by financial burdens. Secretary Shinseki has echoed my sentiment.

“The American Legion offers its extensive outreach services in implementing the emergency student relief program,” Hill said. “We are ready to help students apply for and obtain the benefits they deserve.”

Post 9/11 GI Bill students can contact The American Legion for assistance at (202) 263-2995, or they can e-mail inquiries to Valerie Vigil, vice president of the National Association of Veterans’ Program Administrators, at

Student veterans who have questions about their education benefits, or who need help with their benefit applications, should visit The American Legion’s Web site for GI Bill information: