U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined Republican and Democratic colleagues Thursday requesting an inspector general investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs' failure to properly pay student veterans the housing allowances mandated by the new GI Bill.
Moran, a Kansas Republican, said the inquiry should address allegations the VA declined to reimburse veterans for unpaid or missing benefits. VA officials originally said there was no plan to correct payments to college students who are veteran, but more recently signaled intent to retroactively make amends.
"The VA must make every effort to restore confidence with veterans by delivering the care and benefits they have earned,” Moran said.
The senator said technical and staffing shortages undermining implementation of the Forever GI Bill must be resolved. Further delay will burden veterans who deserve a VA "worthy of their service and sacrifice," he said.
Others signing the letter included Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., John Boozman, R-Ark., Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Todd Young, R-Ind., and Patty Murray, D-Wash.
The VA had said it would delay until December 2019 implementation of a provision of the new GI Bill that calculates veterans' housing allowances based on the campus where the student was attending classes. The old law pegged housing stipends to the main campus of the college or university, and the reform piece was to take effect in August.
VA Secretary Robert Wilkie recently clarified in a statement each beneficiary would retroactively receive the proper housing allowance once the VA had the capacity to process education claims in accordance with the new law. It is possible as many as 360,000 veterans attending college were shorted by the VA.