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Veterans desperate for gov’t follow-through

Soldiers at a welcome-home ceremony for armed service

Soldiers at a welcome-home ceremony for armed service members returning from a deployment in Afghanistan. Credit: AP / Brennan Linsley

Last year, President Donald Trump and Congress massively expanded education benefits for military veterans, known as the Forever GI Bill. The bill, an update of the original GI Bill that gave more than 8 million World War II veterans an education and living expenses while they studied, was badly needed.

But it wasn’t properly handled by the Department of Veterans Affairs, whose 50-year-old computer systems could not process the new claims and rules. One roadblock was a change in how housing allowances are figured, now based on locations of campuses where veterans are studying rather than the main campus of their educational institutions.

But many stipends haven’t been paid, and news accounts are full of tales of veterans unable to pay for housing, child care and food. At least 10,000 payouts have been delayed more than 30 days, at least 82,000 were pending earlier this month.

The VA says it has hired more than 200 workers and put employees on mandatory overtime to address the problem, and the number of veterans waiting for checks is down. But as a nation we have made promises to service members that we have not lived up to. We have to do better.