TAKE ACTION: Urge Your Lawmakers to Immediately Fix the GI Bill Situation for Americans Abroad

The DA Veterans and Military Families Caucus urges all of its members and other Americans living both stateside or abroad to contact your U.S. representative and your two U.S. senators regarding VA educational benefits for GI Bill users living abroad. Addressing this issue is among VMF's top legislative priorities for the 118th Congress.

Below is a template that you can use to copy and paste to your legislators’ web sites on their "Contact Me" forms. We encourage you to customize the language to your liking and to add a personal story on this issue if you have one to share. You are also encouraged to send any response you receive from your senator or representative on this issue by forwarding your legislator’s e-mail to: [email protected].

Dear Representative/Senator ________,

As your constituent, I would like to raise an issue to your attention that directly affects many of your overseas-based veteran constituents and thousands of other Americans. The current GI Bill situation has left thousands of veterans and military family members living abroad in a dire financial situation. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) now requires foreign universities to first obtain a U.S.-based bank account in order for the GI Bill program applicant to have an approved education program at their foreign school and receive their earned educational benefit payments.

However, this "requirement" by VA is not law - it is only "necessary" because VA's antiquated electronic funds transfer (EFT) payment system for educational benefits is unable to make payments overseas due to it being an outdated system without an international-paying capability. When veterans inquire about this with VA, it is telling them "Due to our system limitation, the EFT must be associated with a US bank account with a 9 digit routing number and 8 digit US Bank Account of either Savings or Checking account."

Thus, the VA blames foreign schools for not complying with its recently-changed regulations, and foreign schools blame the VA for creating unnecessary and overburdensome policy changes. Meanwhile, the student veteran (or military family member), through no fault of his/her own, is now stuck with having to pay school tuition out-of-pocket, drop out of school for now not being able to pay for what the VA should be paying for, or forced to look at another international school which has miraculously complied with VA's new changes. And here's the kicker: VA already makes international electronic payments for other benefits such as disability compensation and has been doing so for years, but when it comes to the GI Bill, they claim "it can't be done." This is not a Democratic nor Republican issue, it is an American issue which merits immediate fixing. The VA situation for vets and military spouses and children abroad is completely unacceptable and I'm sure you'd agree that veterans deserve better.

The solution to resolving this situation is to immediately pass S.1090, a bill which directs VA to modernize its EFT system to accommodate GI Bill users abroad. This important legislation is the top legislative priority among the tens of thousands of veterans and military family members attending a foreign university, many of whom are also your constituents.

Therefore, my asks for you: 1) SUPPORT S.1090 when it comes up for a vote, 2) provide a statement of support on this issue, and 3) please work with your colleagues to also support S.1090.
On public record as strong supporters of fixing this specific issue are the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), the Disabled American Veterans (DAV), the Student Veterans of America (SVA), Veterans for Education Success (VES), Democrats Abroad, the American Ex-Servicemen's Association, the International Education Council (IEC), the American Council on Education (ACE) and more. Veterans have earned these benefits and VA needs to be held accountable in making sure they remove unnecessary barriers and work in the best interest of our nation's veterans trying to complete degree programs abroad.

For more information on this situation, see the below three items: 1) Article in Stars and Stripes: https://www.stripes.com/veterans/2023-01-30/gi-bill-foreign-schools-8936602.html 2) Opinion letter in Stars and Stripes: https://www.stripes.com/opinion/2023-02-22/veterans-penalized-education-benefits-overseas-9220827.html and 3) Another Stars and Stripes article: https://www.stripes.com/theaters/europe/2023-03-31/gi-bill-veterans-affairs-9659517.html

Thank you for considering my request. I would greatly appreciate your response to this message, and thank you for your dedication as my public servant.


[your name]