by Phil McCausland
“You can count on us to serve, but we can’t count on the VA to make a deadline,” one veteran said.
If Jane Wiley and her husband Ryan Wiley, both retired Marines, don’t receive the housing allowance they get through the GI Bill by November 1, she expects that they will run out of money for food and rent. The two former Marines would also have to stop attending school if they can't afford childcare for their two kids.
The Wiley family is not alone. Because of a software issue, the Department of Veteran Affairs is struggling to pay student veterans the housing allowance and other benefits provided to them via the GI Bill.
"The VA said the problem currently stems from an IT problem caused by changes to the law when President Donald Trump signed the Forever GI Act last year. New standards for calculating housing stipends were to be implemented on August 1, but it caused “severe critical errors” during testing that “resulted in incorrect payments,” VA spokesman Terrence Hayes said."The federal agency has paid some veterans too much, too little, or nothing at all. It is up to two months late on payments in some cases, forcing potentially thousands of former service members to spiral financially.
“It’s just another example of how the VA, in this capacity, does not have their s--- together, and that comes from the very top.” Jarid Watson
Wiley’s family was depending on those checks and included them in their monthly budget. Without them, they instead have a handful of maxed out credit cards and no expectations of when they might be paid.
NBC News spoke to 10 veterans who had to borrow money from family, take out loans, or open new credit cards — and watch their bank accounts trend steadily toward zero — because their payments were delayed.
“People are homeless and starving because they can’t rely on getting their benefits,” said Wiley, who left the Marines in June 2016 and now serves as a reservist in the Air Force. “If it means making [VA] employees stay all night, then get it done because it’s better than putting families in crisis.”
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