More than 10,000 student veterans have gone more than 30 days—and 1,000 more than 60 days—without receiving their GI Bill stipends, officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said during a congressional hearing. And it all comes down to computer problems.
Many of these veterans have faced problems paying for school and even housing and food, as a result.
“I can’t afford rent. I can’t afford groceries. It’s a lot of emotional strain and aggravation,” Daniel Gorman, an Iraq War veteran, told the Washington Post. At this rate, Gorman doesn’t know if he’ll be able to meet his May 2019 graduation date.
Old IT systems have been miscalculating payments since Congress changed the way housing stipends get calculated, the Wall Street Journal reports. The VA official in charge of the program, Paul Lawrence, told the House Committee on Veterans Affairs that when the change went into effect on Aug. 1, 2018, the systems were overwhelmed and miscalculations kept happening.
“Essentially, the law requires a 50-year-old IT platform that was designed to do the equivalent of basic math to instead perform something akin to calculus in short order,” a VA spokesperson told the Journal in an email.
The VA spent $4 million on 300,000 hours of overtime August through October to try and deal with the immediate ramifications. The agency further estimates that 450,000 veterans have some sort of error in their payments.
Last year, the VA estimated that the necessary computer changes to update their systems would cost $70 million.
On Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump pointed to the expansion of the GI Bill as a success in improving the VA, CNN noted.