Colorado lawmaker calls for investigation into delayed payments to veterans


WASHINGTON (KKTV) - A Colorado lawmaker is asking the Department of Veteran Affairs' Inspector General to investigate issues related to delayed Post-9/11 GI Bill payments to veterans.

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet announced his call for action on Tuesday. There have been reports of ongoing issues with the VA's IT system. Some veterans have not received their living stipend payments for education and housing expenses in a timely manner. About 1,500 GI Bill students at Colorado State University have been impacted according to a report by Colorado Public Radio.

“Such ambiguity about education benefits is a disservice to those who have served our country,” Bennet wrote to the VA's Inspector General. “I ask that you investigate the VA’s capability and willingness to carry out the law.”

At the same time, Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado and Doug Jones of Alabama are introducing legislation that will force the VA to pay student veterans money they are entitled to but haven't received due to a VA error. The legislation is called "Fix Immediately Outstanding Underpayments (IOUs) for Student Veterans Act."

Below is text from a release sent by Gardner and Jones Tuesday:

When the VA failed to implement the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017, many student veterans did not receive the full benefits they are entitled to. Gardner sent a letter to VA Secretary Wilkie regarding the issue on October 29, 2018 demanding the VA fix the situation, but since that time the VA has sent mixed signals about their actual plan to provide retroactive payments to underpaid students. The Gardner-Jones legislation will set up a commission at the VA to ensure all monthly stipends are audited, and force the VA to pay back students who were underpaid. Additionally this legislation will ensure the VA does not take back money from students they overpaid through their error.

'The VA let these veterans down and this cannot be tolerated,' said Gardner. 'First, the VA made a mistake and did not properly pay student veterans the money they are entitled to; and now the VA is failing in their responsibility again by not providing a plan to pay those students back quickly. Most problems Congress addresses are complicated and do not have one ‘right’ answer. This is not one of those issues. To me, it’s pretty clear what the right thing to do is: Congress must act to ensure our student veterans receive every penny they are entitled to.'"