Our son recently got out of the Army. He was an Intelligence Analyst and served 4 years and 10 months with two tours of Iraq. He actually signed up for 4 years but got the stop lost and ended up doing an extra tour of Iraq and served an extra 10 months. We were very proud of his attitude about the extra time in the Army.
He got out officially in June and immediately started college. We sprang for his summer classes and decided he would start on the new GI Bill in the fall semester. With the new GI Bill they are supposed to pay for tuition, books and a living expense. His living expense is $1500 a month. Here's the frustrating part. THEY ARE NOT PAYING THE LIVING EXPENSE. He got his first two months in October by putting in an emergency request. It is now the middle of December and he has not received anything else. He is trying to live off of this money while he goes to school full time. They are making it hard for him though.
This last week was final week and in the midst of taking finals he called the emergence hotline that has been set up to help with the GI bill. He would spend hours on hold only to finally get through and get a recording that said; all lines are busy call back later. This happened Monday through Wednesday. He called on Thursday and thought he was getting through but this time got a message that said we are closed on Thursday and Friday.
On Friday I had the idea that he should call our congressman. He made a special trip over to our house to sign the disclosure form. I was told he would be assigned a case worker. I'm thinking hooray maybe we are getting somewhere. He calls today to find out the progress and is told they will be able to help him in 30 to 60 days. Well so much for that avenue.
One of my clients is the Director of US Vets Initiative which is a non-profit helping homeless Veterans. I called him today to see if he could give us some advice. He gave us the number for the County Veterans coordinator. Tarren called them and they gave him another 800 number. He called that number and they looked his benefits up and said yes you should be getting benefits; we show that you have not been paid since October. They however told him they could not help he has to go through the hotline that has been set up.
He also tried to get helps from the Veterans Counselor at Lonestar College where he is going. Her response was I'm sorry but this is becoming a big problem. This is obviously not an isolated incident. I don't even know where to tell him to go for help from here. We are helping him financially as he is totally out of money but he does not like having to ask for our help.
When I tell this story to people I'm getting tired of the response that the federal government is out of money (so please don't type that in the comments.) They are finding money for all kinds of frivolous things and so that excuse is just not flying with me!! These Veterans served us and now we should be serving them.
It is now Monday afternoon and he is still not able to get through to the hotline. He can wait past the message that says they are closed Thursday and Friday but then gets a message that says we are sorry there is no one to take your call; please call back later. If you have ANY IDEAS of any other avenues we can take please let us know. We feel like a dog chasing their tail.
Since writing this post I have spoke to a gal at the Texas Veterans Commission here in Houston. If there are other Houston Veterans having problems she said I could put her name on my post. Her name is Melanie Moynahan and she is the Program Specialist for the Houston region. Her phone number is 713-818-1630 and her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. I can't tell you how many people I have contacted senators/congressmen/media and she is the first person who is responding as an advocate for our son.
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Copyright © 2009 Marchel Peterson, All Rights Reserved. *New GI Bill is NOT WORKING!!!!!*