The Obama administration has yet to fully unsnarl the reimbursements from the Cash for Clunkers program, and have claimed that the overwhelming demand caught them by surprise.  In contrast, the latest GI Bill for veteran education, the Post-9/11 Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2008, has been in effect for more than a year, with fairly predictable demand curves.  So why did the administration botch tuition payments for tens of thousands of veterans at the beginning of this semester?

The U.S. government failed to send promised college tuition checks to tens of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars before they returned to school this fall, even after being warned that it was inadequately staffed for the job.

The Veterans Affairs Department blamed a backlog of claims filed for GI Bill education benefits that has left veterans who counted on the money for tuition and books scrambling to make ends meet. …

Out of more than 277,000 veterans who have filed for the college tuition benefits this semester, more than 200,000 claims have been processed and approved, but fewer than 11 percent of the veterans have received the funding, according to the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA).

The group says it has been contacted by thousands of veterans who have not received their benefits and that they are forced to take out loans or pay the money out of their pockets.

Just imagine what these same people can do when they take over your health benefits!

How long will it take before the media notices the pattern here?  This program has been in place for months, and now it has a whopping 89% failure rate in a program that shouldn’t have a 5% failure rate.  It doesn’t take a claims genius to process and approve tuition reimbursement requests.  They are a lot less complicated than, say, health care claims.

There is no excuse that covers this performance.  For those who believe that government can handle systems better than the private sector, let them first demand that government fix the systems it currently controls.  They can start with the School for Soldiers program, and then start working on Indian Health Services, and let us know when they’re done culling the waste, fraud, and abuse from Medicare.  Maybe at that point, we’ll trust them with a pilot program someplace else.

Addendum: Yes, I know the program applies to Marines, sailors, airmen, and Coast Guard too, but I wanted to give it the same alliteration as Cash for Clunkers.  Hopefully the other branches will forgive me that.

Update: The Warrior Legacy Foundation released this statement today:

WLF partners with White House and Department of Veterans Affairs to get GI Bill payments expedited

Recently a number of veterans have experienced prolonged delays in receiving payment for college expenses they were guaranteed in the new GI Bill passed by Congress in the summer of 2008. This has caused financial hardship in an already difficult economy, and concern about the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) system whose only mission is to serve the needs of all veterans.

The Warrior Legacy Foundation (WLF) finds this unacceptable and is committed to helping fix the problem. Alongside the White House and the VA, WLF is working to assure veterans will receive the benefits they have earned in service to our nation. Senior WLF leadership have been contact with veteran’s officials at both the White House and the VA. Our coalition has agreed this is a top priority that must be addressed as soon as possible.

WLF will provide assistance to veterans by connecting them with the proper authorities who will facilitate each Warrior receiving the benefits they deserve in a timely fashion.  WLF appreciates the quick attention and help from both the White House and the VA in addressing this problem. Together we will ensure that the systemic problems will be fixed and that there are no future issues regarding the GI Bill and payment to qualified veterans.

Veterans who have not received payment with regards to their GI Bill benefits can contact the Warrior Legacy Foundation at [email protected].

Please enter “GI BILL”in the subject line.