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October 30th, 2009
02:02 PM ET

Is the GI Bill just an IOU?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/WORLD/meast/10/17/u.s.iraq.troops/art.u.s.troops.iraq.jpg caption="U.S. troops speak to an Iraqi child in Baghdad"]
Linsay Rousseau Burnett
LA Times

In the military, I learned to expect screw-ups, especially when it came to money. So maybe the Department of Veterans Affairs is just trying to ease my transition to civilian life by doing things the military way in its handling of Post 9/11 GI Bill education benefits.

Student veterans began applying for education benefits in May, and we were supposed to have our tuition paid and receive our housing and book stipends in August. That didn't happen. Instead, more than two months into the school year, most of us have received nothing, although the VA is graciously offering to advance us emergency checks of up to $3,000 to ease the economic burden of not yet receiving the money we were promised.

Along with healthcare, job experience and a steady paycheck, the GI Bill was one of my primary reasons for joining the Army in 2004. I went into the military - and spent a year in Kirkuk province in northern Iraq - with the express intention of pursuing graduate studies when my contract was up. Truth be told, I wouldn't be writing this column right now, as a student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, were it not for the GI Bill. Or at least for the promise of the GI Bill.

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