Military Vets and Benefits: Do they get what they are promised?

USA Today highlighted that fact that many U.S. Army veterans did not receive promised education benefits. In the reported cases, the enlistees were promised (contractually) the 35,000 dollar G.I. Bill benefit along with a 50,000 dollar “kicker” for an enlistment term of six years. Instead they were paid a total of 50,000 dollars, not the expected 85,000 dollars. Congress has moved to correct some of these cases between 2013 and 2015.

The question remains, How many people have not received education benefits due to DOD errors, technicalities, and procedures not attributable to the enlistee? I can say at least one: Me. I was denied my G.I. Bill benefit in 1990 because of an accounting error. During the Cold War, enlistees had a different G.I. Bill benefit than the one in place today. My G.I. Bill mandated that I contribute 12 consecutive monthly payments of 100 dollars through direct withdraw from pay the first year I was on active duty. In return, I would get an educational benefit of 12,500 dollars. I signed up for the G.I. Bill in basic training at Lackland AFB, TX. After basic training, I went on to technical training school and thought no more about the G.I. Bill. When I arrived at my permanent duty assignment six months after basic training, my supervisor looked over my paystub one day, and asked why I didn’t sign up for the G.I. Bill, I responded that I had signed up. It wasn’t being taken out of my pay. We went to the administration of the base and accounting, they started the monthly withdraw of 100 dollars. It is my fault that I didn’t keep track of the automatic withdraws to ensure that all twelve had been taken. However, for some unknown reason, the withdraws stopped at eleven instead of twelve in 1987. In 1990, now in the Air National Guard, I applied to enact the educational benefit, I earned on active duty. To my surprise, my benefit request was denied. It was only at that time, I discovered the accounting error that had shorted the withdraw by 100 dollars, leaving my contribution at 1,100 instead of 1,200 dollars. So in sum, I paid the U.S. DoD 1,100 dollars instead of 1,200 dollars which made me ineligible for the benefit even though I had authorized twelve 100 dollar payments and the accounting office was responsible for withdrawing the money. Of course I appealed the ruling, volunteering to pay the 100 dollars, but was told this was impossible due to the procedures of the G.I. Bill stipulations. I requested they return my 1,100 dollars so that I could at least use it for college. That too was denied due to the technicalities of the program. In the end, the government got 1,100 dollars of my money and I got none of the promised 12,500 dollars for college. How many others are out there, denied benefits both medical and educational due to a technicality not of their own making?

Fortunately for me, I was able to earn my degree and pay for it through other means. My employer at the time assisted my greatly with paying tuition. The rest I was able to pay myself. Others are not as fortunate.


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