We’ve all heard some VA horror stories. And, while generally rumors aren’t worth the trouble of remembering (let alone re-telling) ? clearly the VA has fallen far short in many areas. This is reflected in backlogs of disability claims, delays in providing adequate access to medical care, and plenty of other areas as well.
I don’t mean to pile blame on the VA, but rather feel being honest in one’s assessment of their duties simply leaves to dissatisfaction (at the very best).
Perhaps the most disturbing, and rather sickening, example of GI Bill horror stories is less linked to the VA and more linked to greed ? so, in respect to the VA, I’ll start there. What I’m referring to here is something termed as predatory lending. Now, it’s been reported for several years as a known issue. For example, Mother Jones posted a piece in 2011 highlighting this very fact: that certain schools with very low graduation rates were targeting veterans in an effort to solely take advantage of their GI Bill benefits. Sickening, yes?
And yet it seems to still be happening. While John Oliver is, of course, a comic ? he has earned a reputation for blistering reviews of real world problems with comedy weaved in the mix. I mention this because Oliver tackled, less than a year ago, the fact that predatory lending targeting veterans is still pervasive2. The link to Oliver’s coverage is at the close of the article, but save yourself some time and jump to just over eleven minutes in to focus on the content regarding veterans specifically.
Where does the VA seem to drop the ball, so to speak? Following the train of thought from the last points regarding predatory lending ? the VA’s biggest failing that comes to mind is a failure to implement changes in the existing programs to prevent veterans from being used as profit-targets for questionable schools. The VA doesn’t carry the blame for the practices these schools employ, but the VA does very much carry the blame for not taking sufficient protective actions on behalf of the veterans they serve.
Another fall smaller complaint, but one that still carries weight, is that the VA doesn’t do enough to inform veterans of the benefits that exist for their use. Admittedly ? a great deal of content regarding requirements and restrictions for varying programs can be found online, but the content existing digitally doesn’t equate with the VA providing sufficient documentation and support to ensure veterans are fully aware of what programs exist to help them.
It seems worth also mentioning that eBenefits (https://www.ebenefits.va.gov/) does seem to be revolutionizing the VA’s functionality with small, awkward steps into the digital age. The system is far from perfect, but it allows greater and more immediate insight into claims processing and a more hands on approach to updating information with the VA. Again ? these steps forward remain difficult and incomplete, but they do show progress and hopeful signs for the future.
There remains all too many challenges facing veterans using benefits such as the GI Bill, but if nothing else there is some optimism in being able to close on more recent activity that shows real progress.