WASHINGTON – Today the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced key changes in the processing of GI Bill benefits payments under the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act of 2017 (Forever GI Bill).
VA Benefits Chief: "Every Single Veteran Will Be Made Whole"
Today, during a hearing before the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, VA Under Secretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence delivered the following statement:
Before I get into my opening statement on the subject of this morning’s hearing, I want to address a misleading NBC news story from late yesterday that gives the false impression that some Veterans on the GI Bill will not be made whole with respect to their housing payments based on an announcement VA made yesterday.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Each and every Veteran on the post-9/11 GI Bill will be made 100 percent whole -- retroactively if need be -- for their housing benefits for this academic year based on the current uncapped DoD rates, and, beginning in spring 2020, we will be in a position to provide Veterans with the new rates where applicable to meet the law known as the Forever GI Bill.
Once again – each and every, and I mean every single Veteran, will be made whole for their housing benefits this year. As we announced yesterday, the rates we are providing are the current academic year uncapped DoD Basic Allowance for Housing rates based on the location of a school’s main campus, rather than the physical location of the student.
For many students, this DoD BAH rate will be equal to or higher than their current payment. If a student was overpaid due to the changes in law or because of VBA’s challenges in implementing the law, the student will not be held liable for the debt.
And, starting in the Spring term of 2020, VA will have solved its current technology difficulties so that the department is in a position to provide post-9/11 GI Bill Veterans the new rates, where applicable, to comply with the Forever GI Bill.
VA hosts music therapy retreat in Nashville to help Veterans heal
‘Operation Song’ connects professional songwriters, former service members to help participants improve their lives
WASHINGTON — Aimed at helping former service members process some of their military experiences, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the nonprofit Operation Song launched the first of a series of national music therapy retreats Nov. 14-17 in Nashville, Tennessee.
In collaboration with VA Voluntary Services and Veterans Canteen Service, the four-day songwriting retreat connected Veterans from around the country with professional songwriters and VA therapists, as they translated their service experiences into songs, which will be recorded in a music studio for the Veterans to keep.
“VA is always striving to find unique ways to help Veterans build on their military experiences, and music therapy is just one component of VA’s robust Recreation Therapy programs, which serve Veterans around the country,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Music can provide an outlet for expression of feelings, as well as be an avenue of communication for those who find it difficult to express themselves.”
Founded by Grammy and Dove Award-nominated songwriter Bob Regan in 2012, Operation Song brings professional songwriters together with Veterans to help create music from often difficult experiences. To date, Nashville-based Operation Song has created more than 600 songs with Veterans of nearly every military conflict, to include World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans who wish to participate in the Operation Song retreat program must be referred by their VA health care provider. Operation Song officials said no musical background is necessary to participate in the program; Veterans only need a desire to tell their story.