For Thousands Of Veterans, The New G.I. Bill Isn’t Working
Student veterans take out loans, miss classes, and face eviction as Obama Administration falls short on 2009 promise. “It just feels like you’re being disrespected.”
In early August of 2009, President Barack Obama stood with a group of young soldiers at George Mason University in Virginia and proudly announced that the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which he’d sponsored in the Senate, had taken effect.
“This is not simply a debt that we are repaying to the remarkable men and women who have served,” Obama said of the bill, which provides tuition and housing support to veterans. “We are letting those who have borne the heaviest burden lead us in to the 21st century.”
Three years later, the bill has failed to deliver on its promise for tens of thousands of young veterans, according to interviews with students and administrators. Student veterans from across the country report that the Department of Veterans Affairs simply hasn’t paid their tuition yet this semester, or that it just arrived, months late. Promised housing stipends, too, remain unpaid. Veterans are dipping into their savings, facing eviction, and taking out loans to get by. The culprit appears to be simple staffing shortages and bureaucratic sluggishness, but the consequences have been intensely disruptive.