Legion offers to help vets get GI Bill money Published Sept. 30, 2009 By Rick Maze Military Times Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse, NY -- The nation's largest veterans group says it will help Post-9/11 GI Bill students file for a new $3,000 emergency payment for those who have not yet been paid their living stipends. The American Legion, the 2.5 million-member organization credited with creation of the World War II GI Bill, says it will use its expertise to help veterans apply for and receive their emergency checks and their basic GI Bill benefits. Veterans can contact the American Legion for help by calling 202-263-2995 or by e-mailing the group's vice president of the National Association of Veterans' Program Administrators at email@example.com. The emergency payments announced Friday by the Veterans Affairs Department came after growing complaints from veterans about the financial difficulties caused by delays in their book allowances and living stipends. The $3,000 emergency payments will be available beginning Friday, Oct. 2, to students who have applied for the Post-9/11 GI Bill, are eligible for book allowances or living stipends and are enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning. Active-duty service members and spouses of active-duty members who are using transferred benefits are not likely to be eligible for the $3,000 checks because they are not eligible for housing allowances. The children of active-duty members using transferred benefits may be eligible if they meet other requirements regarding the schools they are attending and the number of classes they are taking. Full details on the payments have not been announced, but what is known is that students can go to the nearest VA regional benefits office to apply beginning Oct. 2. There are 57 VA regional offices. Discussion also is ongoing about arranging transportation for students to get to VA offices to apply for checks or to have VA representatives visit campuses that have a significant population of student veterans. VA's GI Bill Web site has some information on the emergency payments. VA also has a toll-free hot line, 888-GIBILL-1 (888-442-4551), where VA officials said there are more than 100 agents answering calls. Clarence Hill, the American Legion's national commander, said in a statement that it is "heartening" to see VA decide to issue emergency checks. "This is a brand new benefits program, instituted just weeks ago, so some startup glitches are to be expected," Hill said. "But VA's willingness to rectify the problem should be applauded. The American Legion offers its extensive outreach services in implementing the emergency student relief program. We are ready to help students apply for and obtain the benefits they deserve."