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Post 9/11 GI Bill Emergency Funds Issue

October 6, 2009

I read this article on the Navy Times website and thought I would share the information.  Some recipients of the emergency funds are having a hard time cashing their checks at banks.  This is due to anti-fraud policies put in place.  Read the article below for information on how to try and work around this.

The latest in a string of problems that have held up Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits is that some banks are refusing to immediately cash $3,000 emergency benefits checks issued by the Veterans Affairs Department.

More than 14,300 veterans showed up at VA regional offices on Friday and Saturday to take advantage of an unprecedented offer from VA to provide up to $3,000 in emergency funds while students wait for their GI Bill claims to be processed. Another 10,600 people applied online for checks that will be arriving in the mail.

One of the reasons why veterans were standing in line — which in some cases were hours long — was the promise of immediate financial help. But the problems with cashing checks left some veterans without funds for the weekend.

The problem, according to VA officials and representatives of major veterans’ organizations, is anti-fraud rules established by most banks that require large checks, especially handwritten checks, to be held until they clear before being cashed.

VA officials are asking banks to help veterans by cashing the emergency checks as quickly as possible, and have set up a toll-free number for banks or other financial institutions to call so they can verify a check. The number is 800-827-2166.

“Banks calling this number will be connected directly to a VA employee who can access all necessary information to verify who the check was issued to, the check number and dollar amount of the check, and whether the check was previously cashed or not,” VA said in a statement.

Checks being issued to students who applied online for emergency help will be issued by the U.S. Treasury, and will be standard government checks that usually face fewer problems being cashed. VA officials said last week they expect it will take three days for an online check request to be processed and a Treasury check issued. It will take another three days, they said, for checks to arrive in the mail.

VA regional offices remain open during the week from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. to issue emergency checks to veterans who have applied for, but have not yet received, Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits.

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