Eye Opener: Banks Hold Up Some Veterans Funds
Happy Wednesday! The Department of Veterans Affairs still can't seem to get ahead of some of the problems plaguing the Post 9/11 GI Bill, the program providing veterans, active-duty servicemembers and their dependents money for college tuition, textbooks and related expenses. A backlog forced the department last week to start issuing emergency checks to participants that had not yet received their first payments.
But The Eye reports in Wednesday's Federal Diary column that some banks have placed holds on the checks out of concern about potential fraud.
VA contacted some banks, university officials and program participants over the weekend when it learned of the problem, according to spokeswoman Katie Roberts. Concerned bank employees can call 1-800-827-2166 to speak with a VA employee that will confirm the check's amount and whether it was previously cashed. (Program participants should keep the number handy when they go to the bank with their checks!)
Turns out some of the checks issued by U.S. Bank on behalf of VA were handwritten in order to ensure they had enough checks to quickly distribute the funds, Roberts said. Those checks then raised concerns at some banks.
The department has distributed roughly $70 million in emergency checks since the payments started on Friday, Roberts said. Roughly 30,000 of the 64,000 students enrolled in the Post 9/11 GI Bill are still awaiting payment. The VA is authorizing payment for approximately 3,000 students per day.
VA also announced Tuesday that it will distribute $17 million in grants to community groups in 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to help provide shelter for homeless veterans. The department operates the largest network of homeless assistance programs in the nation and estimates it spent $2.8 billion to provide health care and specialized homeless programs last fiscal year.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
• Cabinet and Staff News: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says the New York bomb plot was "very serious." Is Gregory Craig a fall guy for the Gitmo delays? Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and Energy Secretary Steven Chu co-host a Clean Energy Economy Forum Wednesday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. The special envoy to Sudan causing headaches at Foggy Bottom and the White House.
• Obama Praises U.S. Intelligence Efforts Against Al-Qaeda: Speaking at the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, he described an al-Qaeda weakened by both the coordinated U.S. effort against it and the group's own "bankrupt ideology."
• Administration Launches $650M Program to Boost Education: The competition dovetails with a $4.35 billion grant program for states that the administration calls "Race to the Top." The combined $5 billion in seed money for fixing or improving schools amounts to one of the largest federal investments to date in educational entrepreneurship.
• AP: Military Contractor Oversight Too Lax: There are continuing problems between the U.S. armed forces and the industrial army supporting military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Demand for contractor services is heavy, while oversight of their work isn't. That means problems often aren't discovered until long after the payments have been made.
• Report: U.S. Should Give Preference to Skilled Immigrants Over Relatives: The 20-member independent panel reflected an "unprecedented" range of liberal and conservative thinkers, and was designed to provide a model rather than a specific road map for policy makers.
• Body of Hanged Ky. Census Worker Released: The State Medical Examiner's Office said the investigation continues with "bits and pieces of information" still coming to light.
• SEC Probing Biggest Hospital Company: The investigation has been focusing, at least in part, on HCA's London subsidiary and whether the company fabricated tens of thousands of payments for phantom nursing shifts.
• Agencies Surpass Stimulus Small Business Contracting Goals: As of Oct. 2, nearly 26 percent of all federal stimulus contracting dollars -- or more than $4 billion -- was awarded to small businesses.
• EPA Issues Rules for Tap Water on Jets: Five years ago, the agency tested 327 planes and found that 15 percent of them tested positive for coliform in drinking water and lavatory water.
• With Campus Visits, Defense Agency Director Hopes to Renew Ties: The new director of the Pentagon’s research arm has begun a series of visits to university campuses around the country in an effort to rebuild bridges that were severed under the Bush administration.
| October 7, 2009; 5:54 AM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Eye Opener
Save & Share: Previous: OMB Wants More Data on Government's Performance
Next: U.S. Census Gets 'Telenovela' Role
The comments to this entry are closed.