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Letter To The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki, Secretary of Veterans Affairs


Location: Unknown

Message To Department Of Veterans Affairs: Issue Emergency Checks

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree asked Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to issue emergency checks for veterans whose GI Bill payments for education-related costs have been delayed.

"I've heard from too many veterans who have been waiting for checks that are due them under the GI Bill," Pingree said. "Many of them depend on these checks to pay their rent or their mortgage as they go to school and the delay has put them in a difficult position. I want to see the VA start issuing emergency checks right away."

Most of the problems are with checks owed veterans under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The first payments under this new program began last fall, when many veterans experienced significant delays. In that case the VA issued emergency checks that veterans could pick up immediately at VA Togus Regional Office. Unfortunately, the VA has decided not to issue emergency checks to address similar delays in the current semester. That decision doesn't sit well with Pingree.

"We made a promise to these veterans," Pingree said. "We have to do a better job living up to it."

In her letter to Shinseki, Pingree asked that emergency checks be issued for all veterans experiencing delays in GI bill payments--not just under the new Post 9/11 GI Bill.

(Text of letter below.)

February 26, 2010

The Honorable Eric K. Shinseki
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
Department of Veterans Affairs
810 Vermont Avenue NW
Washington DC, 20420

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

I respectfully request that the VA reconsider its decision to stop offering emergency payments to veterans who are experiencing delays in receiving their GI Bill payments.

While I commend you and your staff for improving processing times since the first semester of Post 9/11 (Chapter 33) benefits were made available, I remain concerned that too many veterans are experiencing delays that will result in financial hardship for them and their families.

Thanks to the Post 9/11 GI bill, I believe that colleges and universities across the country will continue to see a significant increase in veteran enrollment, and we need to keep every option open to ensure these veterans receive the benefits they have earned in a timely manner. I also understand that given the enormous amount of attention given to Chapter 33 recipients, other components of VA education benefits are experiencing delays in processing time.

I request that emergency payments be available to any veteran receiving education benefits from the VA. If the decision is made to continue with these emergency payments, I also request that veterans who have received the emergency payment in the past be eligible for such payments.

Maine is fortunate to have an extremely large population of veterans and several hundred veterans are currently enrolled in academic institutions across the state, but unfortunately I have heard from numerous veterans who are experiencing untimely delays. We will continue to work with the VA to ensure these problems are resolved immediately.

Thank you for considering my requests and for all of your efforts on behalf of our nation's heroes

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