The current Veterans Administration system has resulted in multiple denials of education benefits for veterans studying overseas, Stars and Stripes reported.
The requirement that foreign schools have U.S. bank accounts and U.S. employer identification numbers has forced veterans to pay thousands of dollars in overseas tuition. Most foreign schools have been unwilling to go through the process, given the relatively small number of GI Bill students, according to veterans.
The issue first occurred in 2021 after the VA switched to electronic payment transfers instead of sending paper checks to foreign schools. This rule also affects children of veterans because education benefits can be transferred and extend beyond the GI Bill, affecting dependents’ education stipend entitled due to disabilities.
“This is an injustice for our veterans and military families who earned these benefits. It truly is a mess,” said Army veteran Jana Tittle, who is part of an overseas effort to get the VA to act. But the government organization has not taken action.
The VA sees the schools in question as the ones at fault, but the reality is the VA is shifting blame elsewhere, to foreign schools, instead of making updates, Tittle said.
Notably, no existing law requires this procedure. The VA sends disability payments to veterans with foreign bank accounts.
And although Congress has attempted to change the system, there has been no success. The House of Representatives passed in May 2022 a bill that told the VA to update its system so foreign schools did not need a U.S. bank account or an American tax number for electronic payments. But the bill died in the Senate’s Veterans’ Affairs Committee without coming up for a vote.
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-New Jersey), the bill’s sponsor, said she intended to bring the legislation back under a new Congress.