Statement from the Chair: Update with Student Veterans' Benefits Abroad

In response to recent policy changes by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the Chair of the Democrats Abroad (DA) Global Veterans and Military Families (VMF) Caucus, Kee Evans (Guatemala), stated:

"At some point during the Trump Administration, VA changed its requirements intended for student veterans and military family members to fully utilize their Post-9/11 GI Bill and Veterans Readiness & Employment (VR&E) educational benefits at foreign universities. VA unnecessarily began to require additional, burdensome information from schools, and VMF fought back, with take-action advocacy, podcast discussions, communications to Congress, and more. Eventually, VMF gained success in getting Congress to respond to VMF's many voices by passing legislation which was signed into law by President Biden. 

"Unfortunately, VA also began to require all foreign schools to obtain both a U.S. Employer Identification Number (EIN) and U.S. bank account in order for foreign school participation in VA's education programs, and once again, VMF fought back on these cumbersome policy changes and had success in pushing VA to reverse its stance on both the EIN policy and the U.S. bank account requirement.

"While these three barriers to GI Bill beneficiaries studying abroad are now removed, problems still exist with VA processing applications and program approvals of overseas-based student veterans and military family members. VA continues to ask schools for unnecessary information from foreign universities, often information which violates privacy laws in veterans' countries of residence. In addition, there are still problems with VA's Foreign Program Approvals office being unable to handle the high demand of GI Bill and VR&E beneficiaries abroad who are wanting to use their earned benefits, but continue to be stuck in battles between VA and foreign schools through no fault of their own.

"VMF has made incredible progress on this issue over the past two years, but the mission remains: veterans living abroad should be able to use their educational benefits abroad, and whatever barriers continue to be revealed, we will continue fighting for veterans' access to their already-paid-for-and-earned educational benefits. Our Caucus stands firm in seeing this issue through until it is fully resolved."

Democrats Abroad's Global VMF Caucus is the undisputed leader on most (if not all) issues affecting U.S. veterans and military family members living abroad, and welcomes all DA members to join in VMF efforts - whether as a veteran, a military family member, or as an ally of veterans and military families.