Monday, September 28, 2009

VA and the GI Bill

Friday, the VA was in the news cycle for still, STILL, not sending the checks to veterans participating in the education programs under the new GI Bill. These checks would cover tuition, would cover books, would cover living expenses. The news media ran with the month of September but, in fact, as e-mails have reminded, for some universities, the fall semester started in August. At one point early in the day Friday, the VA was attempting to lie that they were waiting for adds and drops. That was a lie. First off, many veterans are having to take out emergency students loans at their universities. These are short term loans and, no, this was not planned. Second of all, drops don't end this week. Many universities allow people to drop throughout October and into November. The VA is not doing its job and has attempted to spin.

Cynthia Henry (Philadelphia Inquirer) quotes Robeen Billings who is among the veterans who have not received their payments, "The GI Bill is a mess. I'm struggling because my first semester is not paid. I'm commuting from Newark to Camden, living off my credit card." Who's going to pay the interest on the debt that Billings and others are having to run up because the VA dropped the ball? Henry reports:

Former Marine James Hambley, 25, of Maple Shade, has been caught short by the delay. Between his savings and GI Bill living allowance, he figured he could quit his job and attend CCC full time. Without the benefits coming in, Hambley has applied for a two-month deferment on his car and personal loans. He looked into a government student loan, but that money wouldn't be available until November, he said.
College advisers have told him that he shouldn't work more than 20 hours a week while taking 14 credits toward his engineering-science degree, Hambley said, but "that's not going to cut it" until the first check arrives - in November, the government now tells him. He's out looking for work.

Audrey Hudson (Washington Times) covers
this week's 'plan' to dispense emergency checks. This morning George W. Reilly (Providence Journal) reports this morning:

The VA says it has more than 900 personnel processing education claims. To address the large fall enrollment workload, employees are working overtime, and the VA has rehired retired claims processors to provide additional processing support.
Despite this effort by the VA, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( issued a statement on Sept. 23 expressing its concern over the GI Bill payment delays from the VA to the colleges and universities attended by student veterans pursuing their education on the new Post-9/11 GI Bill.
IAVA says the VA has issued checks to less than 11 percent of the 277,000 veterans who have applied for their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, a situation they describe as "absolutely unacceptable." Delayed payments are forcing veterans to take out loans or pay out of pocket for costs the VA promised to cover.

Saturday we noted that 28-year-old Iraq War veteran Ryan Job passed away. Lynn Thompson (Tri-City Herald) had reported that he passed away on Thursday following "major reconstructive surgery at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix." He was injured and blinded in a 2006 attack in Iraq. His survivors include his mother Debbie Job, his wife Kelly Job (who is expecting her and Ryan's first child), his brother Aaron, "his father Eric Job, his sister, Kelsie, and his grandmother Barbara McCormick" and that:

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be sent to either Camp Patriot,; Sentinels of Freedom,; or the Naval Special Warfare Foundation,

Seattle's KING5 News notes that Ryan Job was "living in Arizona while doing work with the organization Camp Patriot." At the Camp Patriot website the following appears:

UPDATE: Funeral Services will be on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 11:00 AM.
Scottsdale Bible Church 7601 E Shea Blvd., Scottsdale, AZ
A celebration of life will be held from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM (1800 hrs to 2000 hrs)
Marriott Hotel 16770 North Perimeter Drive
Scottsdale, AZ 85260
(480) 502-3836
We are saddened to report that Ryan Job has succombed to complications from recent surgery.
Please pray for his wife Kelly, mother, Debi, father Eric, sister Kelsie and brother Daron and other relatives who are grieving.
Moreover, for those who had the privilege to know and work with him on the TEAM's and in his life after retiring?
Ryan was a Born Again Christian who loved Jesus Christ and wanted to serve Him for the rest of his life. Ryan now is with his Lord and Master; he has regained his sight and awaits his wife and family who love Jesus to join him for eternity.
Ryan was Camp Patriot's National Spokesman. He was filled with enthusiasm about life even though he had given his sight during the fight against terrorism in Iraq.
Ryan was a decorated and revered Navy SEAL. He was wounded while deployed in Iraq with his SEAL team. Ryan suffered total sight loss when a sniper's round hit the butt of his machine gun, sending shrapnel through his right eye severing his oflactory nerve and left optic nerve. Ryan underwent what was to be his final major surgery this past week. Complications that we are not totally aware of took his life after the surgery in Phoenix AZ.
After retiring, Ryan summated Mt Rainier in 2008, bagged a magnificent elk in 2008 and returned to help other injured veterans to climb Mt Rainier in 2009. Ryan gave of himself selflessly both in military service and in private life. He is one of those few individuals you meet in life that is irreplaceable.
God bless you Ryan and thank you for your service to American and Freedom around the world. You will be missed and this world is a lesser place since you went home to be with the Lord. However, we rejoice in your life and your being in the presence of God the Creator forever more. We that remain are anxious for the coming of Jesus Christ that we may again hold you as our brother in Christ.
Camp Patriot
Board of Directors
Micah Clark, Pat Kenny, Mike Flood, Jeff Lembke, Dave Courson, Bill Clark

Meanwhile Rachel Streitfeld (CNN) reports on this weekend's Time of Remembrance ceremony in DC over the weekend:

John Ellsworth remembers when his 20-year-old son called home from Iraq to proudly announce he was now a demolitions expert.
"I said, 'Son, you're 20 years old,'" Ellsworth ribbed his son gently. "'You are not an expert at anything.'"
What Ellsworth doesn't describe is the thudding anxiety he must have felt to hear his son was spending his days in Iraq hunting for explosives. Or the horror of the moment he learned his son had been successful in his mission -- but with devastating consequences.

Seth Stephen was wounded while serving in Iraq. Yesterday Hilary Hawke (Daily Mail) reported on a ceremony honoring Stephen:

When Specialist Seth Stephen took the podium Sunday at a ceremony in New Baltimore honoring him for his service to the country, the shy 27-year-old seemed momentarily a loss for words.
Stephen, who was wounded in an attack in Kadamiah during his third tour of duty in Iraq in 2008, said, "I never thought I'd see a day like this and I want to thank you very much. I don’t know what to say ..."
He didn't seem to understand no one expected him to say much at all.

Today Hawke adds:

Still stunned by the outpouring of appreciation during Sunday’s ceremony honoring him at the New Baltimore Town Hall, he said, “Honestly, it’s a tremendous honor to be included in the community.”
Stephen, who received a purple heart for bravery during an RPG attack in Kadamiah in 2008, will officially retire from the army on Nov. 5 with an Honorable Medical Discharge.
Optimistic about the future, he is tentatively considering a second career working with animals either as a veterinary technician or possibly in canine behavior modification.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "New 'Action' from 'We Forgot Iraq'" went up last night.

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