VA Undersecretary Fires Back At ‘Misleading’ NBC News Story

Peter Hasson | Reporter

A top official in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on Thursday refuted a report claiming the VA won’t reimburse some veterans who received less money than they were owed as part of their GI Bill benefits.

NBC News on Wednesday reported the VA “told congressional staffers that it would not reimburse those veterans who were paid less than they were owed,” citing two anonymous congressional aides.

VA Under Secretary for Benefits Paul Lawrence called the NBC story “misleading” and claimed it “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,” according to a prepared copy of his remarks obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Lawrence said. “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 be in a position to provide Veterans the new rates where applicable to meet the law known as the Forever GI Bill.”

US President Donald Trump speaks during the swearing-in ceremony of Robert Wilkie as Secretary of Veterans Affairs in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, July 30, 2018. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

“Once again — 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,” Lawrence continued.

“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 change in law or because of VBA’s challenges in implementing the law, the student will not be held liable for the debt,” he said. (RELATED: Two Whistleblowers Say They Were Run Out Of VA Hospital)

Lawrence said by spring 2020, “VA will have solved its current information 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.”

NBC News did not immediately return a request for comment.

President Donald Trump’s administration fired more than 1,500 VA employees after enacting reform legislation making it easier to fire corrupt officials.

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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