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A train wreck': Veterans haven't received GI Bill payments for months due to VA 'glitches

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GI Bill payments have been delayed for months to tens of thousands of eligible veterans, due to "glitches" in the VA's technology. (Image source: YouTube screencap)

A report from NBC News says the Department of Veterans Affairs has been experiencing technology glitches that have delayed GI Bill housing and tuition payments to veterans for months.

Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, Rep. Phil Roe (R-Tenn.) called the situation "a train wreck."

What are the details?

As of Nov. 8, the VA acknowledged that more than 82,000 veterans still have not received their housing benefits, with only weeks remaining in the semester. According to NBC, hundreds of thousands of GI Bill recipients are believed to have been affected by the delays, which have been as long as 90 days in some instances.

John Kamin with the American Legion told KNWA-TV that some student veterans are now facing eviction due to missing payments.

He said many are "left moving back in with their parents or couch surfing because the VA was not able to honor these veterans and their service."

Veteran Shelley Roundtree is one of those impacted by the delayed stipends. "I'm about to lose everything that I own and become homeless," he told NBC News. "I don't want to be that veteran on the street begging for change because I haven't received what I was promised."

Roundtree was evicted from his apartment due to the missed housing payments, and lives on his sister's couch while his possessions sit in a storage facility. He says he can no longer afford to pay the storage fees, meaning his belongings could now be auctioned off by the facility.

How could this happen?

Education benefits for veterans were expanded through the 2017 Harry W. Colmery Veterans Education Assistance Act of 2017 — also known as the "Forever GI Bill" — which included scrapping the time limit  for veterans to utilize their GI Bill benefits and changing the way housing payments are calculated.

The VA blamed the ongoing delays on its antiquated IT system, which required upgrades to implement the changes brought on by the Forever GI Bill. But Congressman Jim Banks (R-Ind.), who serves on the Veterans Affairs Committee, said that's no excuse.

"We'll get to the bottom of the matter," Banks told KNWA. "We'll do everything we can to see that it's fixed," insisting that the VA was aware beforehand that its technology would need to be updated.

Rep. Roe agreed. "This is — to be kind — this is a train wreck," he told NBC. "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."

The Veterans' Affairs Committee is set to meet on Wednesday to have hearings on the matter.

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