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Groups let vets email for education benefits help

May. 20, 2013 - 12:53PM   |  

How to get help

Email for assistance on problems with VA education benefits.

Two prominent veterans service organizations have announced a joint effort intended to help vets more quickly resolve problems with their education benefits.

Veterans of Foreign Wars and Student Veterans of America are partnering on “1 Student Veteran,” an email hotline to report problems with the processing of veterans’ Post-9/11 GI Bill or other Veterans Affairs Department education benefits.

Vets who send an email can expect to receive a response within 24 hours on weekdays and expedited action on their appeals after that, organization officials said.

“We’re just trying to leverage the same kind of expertise that the VFW has had ... in assisting in the VA disability claims process” to education benefits, said Ryan Gallucci, a deputy director for the VFW.

The VFW has direct connections to VA’s regional processing offices, which likely will mean faster processing of appeals than having to wait for formal appeals to be resolved through snail mail, he said.

Michael Dakduk, executive director of Student Veterans of America, thanked VA’s Veterans Benefits Administration for its help on the initiative.

“VA has actually sent guidance to the regional processing offices to streamline cases that come from this partnership,” Dakduk said. “I think that’s critical.”

VA officials did not respond to Military Times questions by press time.

Dakduk said that while the VFW helps with appeals, his organization will work to help get the word out about the program.

“SVA’s role is really kind of doing the outreach to the student veterans, making sure student veterans are aware of the VFW service officers,” he said. “It exposes them to what the VFW has been doing for decades.”

Dakduk cautioned that while the VFW/SVA service can respond to vets quickly, and get their appeals in the hands of VA officials more quickly, it’s still up to VA to resolve education benefits issues.

“The benefit may not get processed in a timely manner, but at least they’ll get a response,” Dakduk said.

Gallucci added that part of the program’s goal is also to ease some of VA’s workload, so that the department can focus its resources on resolving problems with benefits.

While 1 Student Veteran is focused on education benefit issues, the VFW will direct disability-related problems reported through that email address to the appropriate part of the organization, Gallucci said.

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