Robert Wilkie apologized last week for a computer glitch resulting in many veterans not receiving their monthly GI Bill subsistence payments.

The computer glitch resulted in some veterans receiving lower pay rates at 2017 payment amounts while other veterans received nothing at all.

“We received instructions from Congress, and those instructions, they attempted to implement them on a 50-year-old computer system,” Wilkie said at the time. “Even something as simple as changing the percentages broke the system.”

The agency is unsure when the glitch will get repaired but assured lawmakers only 1 percent of veterans were impacted, so it’s no big deal.

From Stars and Stripes –> The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged technical issues are causing 340,000 student veterans to receive incorrect housing stipends to begin the new school year, but now lawmakers and advocates contend the problem is bigger – many veterans are not receiving the payments at all.

Veterans going to school using the GI Bill were supposed to receive their second housing payment for the semester on Oct. 1. In the days since, veterans have been contacting the VA, veterans groups, their lawmakers and schools to question them about their missing money. Some of them haven’t received any money, and others received amounts far less than what they’re owed.

Stars and Stripes heard from 14 veterans in 14 states who received either the wrong amount or no housing allowance at all. Some of them called the VA and waited on hold until they gave up, and others reached out to their elected representatives. Six mentioned the lack of payment affected their ability to pay their rent or other bills.

Leo Cheng, a Navy veteran who attends Columbia University in New York City, hadn’t been paid as of Friday, and he knows of other veterans at the school who are in the same situation…

[Read More…]

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24 COMMENTS

  1. 10/08/2018

    Dear Benjamin Krause,

    Where did the extra 100, 000 students come from?
    Do we expect more in 2019? 2020? 2021?

    Or is this a VA management’s technique to throw everyone off the trail of the recent low ratings of Hospitals/poor performance of Management around America?

    Who is using a 50 year old computer? And the question is why? Are they mentally ill?

    Is this the same computer storing Veterans Data on Health Care/IT Software from hell Leidos/Cerner/Lockheed and foreign UK companies like Deepmind AL/Google/Calico/Alphabet Inc.?

    I hear poor reasons for major management’s failures. The VA Secretary Robert Wilkie is getting off to a bad start.

    Sincerely,

    Don Karg

  2. @Editorial Staff writer,
    Sometimes, one careless phease can bring an impactful reaction from the recipient of those words. It might be something to give thought as you embark on future contributions, whether here or in life as a whole.

    Since, you did not have quotation marks around, “The agency is unsure when the glitch will get repaired but assured lawmakers only 1 percent of veterans were impacted, so it’s no big deal.”, it leaves me to assume the phrase “so it’s no big deal” belongs to you and not to Secretary Wilkie.

    Immediately following that is the referenced article stating, “The Department of Veterans Affairs has acknowledged technical issues are causing 340,000 student veterans to receive incorrect housing stipends to begin the new school year, but now lawmakers and advocates contend the problem is bigger – many veterans are not receiving the payments at all.”

    Excuse me, 340,000 STUDENT veterans is a big deal, considering that number to represent about one percent of the TOTAL veteran population pointed out among your writing.

    I do hope it was never your intent to willfully word things to incite discontent among Ben’s readers and posters in an effort to generate excessive responses for your own benefit.

    Someone once stated, “…write what you know about…” and there’s also, “…know your audience…”, among many others.

    May I suggest, if you plan to receive positive credit for your internship, that more careful thought be given to your audience as you expound in future.

    A little compassion can go a long way.

    • @Jerry,
      Truth be told, I did understand the point of the article and I chose instead, to comment to the writer, about one phrase in one sentence and my view of the potential impact that the phrase might have on any affected reader.

      • And a good comment and catch it was, Rosie. That particular clerical error could have changed the whole context of the(to the uninitiated) article . . .

        While I got the gist, I did have to reread those particular passages three times in order to ascertain that I had comprehended precisely what the author meant.

  3. “We received instructions from Congress, and those instructions, they attempted to implement them on a 50-year-old computer system,” Wilkie said at the time. “Even something as simple as changing the percentages broke the system.”

    While an Abacus technically qualifies as a ’50-year-old computer system’ the lack of proper training of the operator(s) is what concerns me. Why did not the operator(s) inform the bosses of the axiom ‘Garbage In/Garbage Out’. Certainly a basic understanding of their systems capabilities would have allowed them to do so. Surely such technical knowledge may have prevented this mishap? Someone double-checking the output of that computer may have helped as well.

    The VA relies far too much on antiquated information systems, ill-trained employees, and bosses who will always seek a pay raise without earning it.

    No big deal? Perhaps not if you are a VA official. Yet if you are a veteran dependent upon those payments being correct and on time – – – the story becomes somewhat different. And it is a REALLY BIG DEAL when you are looking at not being able to pay rent.

    It is way past time for some real leadership at the VA. Leadership that speaks truth publicly about how bad things have really gotten. Leadership that develops solutions to take better care of ALL our nations warriors.

    Leadership that recognizes that when they are doing a good job – – – it will be veterans singing their praises, rather than the VA needing a PR Agency to put out “Fluff Pieces” to mislead America and her citizens about what a stellar job they are doing.

    They are not. In fact, they are doing a very piss-poor job.

    The VA has a first-world budget which they use to provide veterans less than third-world medical care and benefits. Current VA leadership has their Brain Housing Group the size of mice and their Heart no bigger.

    It is about FIFTEEN YEARS PAST TIME TO FIX THE DAMN BROKEN VA:

    1. IMMEDIATELY recognize the problems inherent in the VA are SYSTEM-WIDE, not just limited to a few locations.

    2. Fire all the Lazy No Good Workers. Fire EVERY single AFGE/SES Employee.

    3. Sell off all the VA facilities. Alternatively, they may be converted into military barracks-style housing for homeless veterans. These will be run with military-style rules to promote good order and discipline.

    4. Issue all veterans a card that allows them to choose their own doctors within their community that they can TRUST.

    5. The United States Government will PAY those doctors promptly (Within 45 days) for the care they provide veterans.

    6. ELIMINATE the “Federal Protection” Umbrella for incompetent QUACKS that the VA sends to other states to practice other than their own. Going to practice in XX state? You need to be LICENSED in XX state.

    7. Any claim a veteran submits to the VBA that requires more than 90 days to adjudicate, is automatically found to be in favor of the veteran. Should a veteran file a false claim to scam the system, the VA will have to prove in civil court that the claim was falsely submitted.

    For filing a false claim, the veteran will be subject to ALL of the following:

    (A). The claim shall be denied. If the veteran has received any form of benefits because of the false claim they will be required to fully repay the benefits at cost.
    (B). The veteran will be banned from all VA facilities for the remainder of their life.
    (C). The veteran will lose any benefits they originally have or had, and will not be allowed to file for further benefits.

    8. All veterans will be allowed to seek/retain the services of a Veterans Rights Attorney from their first initial contact with the VA. This will help to protect the legal rights of veterans against corrupt and incompetent VA employees.

    9. No AFGE, nor any other Labor Union business will be allowed to take place in any Federal Workplace. Conducting Union Business during working hours will be STRICTLY PROHIBITED and will be STRICTLY ENFORCED. Should any government employee be found violating this provision, it will result in IMMEDIATE LIFETIME DISMISSAL FROM ANY/ALL STATE AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYMENT.

    In this case the word LIFETIME shall be construed as meaning “Ten years after you are deceased”.

    10. Attorneys for appeal will be retained at the former employee’s PERSONAL expense. U. S. Taxpayer’s will not be subject to payment of legal bills for incompetent or dishonest personnel with regards to Governmental Employment.

    You have my contact information Mr. President. Call me anytime. I have a lot of workable ideas/solutions to help this nation improve the services provided to my fellow veterans.

    The ones promised, but never delivered upon. Veterans have been waiting for over fifty years for the fulfillment of those promises. I will not hesitate to speak up at all.

    For my fellow veterans who have been ill-served by this DERAILED CLUSTERFUCK of an AWFUL TRAIN WRECK CALLED THE VA over the years:

    Our battles overseas were far less agonizing than our war here at home. Never Cruel or Cowardly. Never Give Up. Never Give In. We are on the Righteous path.

    POTUS Reagan broke up PATCO in the ’80’s. Time for POTUS Trump to break up the AFGE.

    Most of our current Congress Critters do NOT have Veterans Interests, or that of the United States at heart. Perhaps their replacements will. VOTE OUT all these WORTHLESS BITCHES and BASTARDS.

    Give their replacement’s one term to take care of Veterans who put aside their own personal lives to answer this nation’s call when she needed them. Many of those Veterans suffer the remainder of their lives for doing what most of their countrymen had not the courage to do.

    If they cannot MUSTER THE STONES to do it properly – – – vote their worthless asses out as well. Party should NOT MATTER. What SHOULD MATTER is their VOTING RECORDS ON VETERANS ISSUES.

    Rhetoric is cheap. Congressional Voting Records on veterans’ issues speak louder than words.

    NO Combat Veteran should be surprised when the next McVeigh, Congressional Baseball Team, or Las Vegas Sniper Incident occurs. Bound to happen. Just a matter of time . . .

    We have now reached the next accelerative phase of our country falling apart. Country before Party. Principles before Personalities. Always.

    Want to REALLY fix the VA? The next SecVA needs to be a former Enlisted Man brought in from the general veteran population with a few serious axes to grind against the VA and the AFGE, with zero previous governmental civilian service.

    Apparently, Former Flag Officers and SES appointed Civilians can’t cut the mustard . . .

    Maybe a SINCERELY MOTIVATED Gunnery Sergeant or Chief Petty Officer CAN.

    • Guy, you just sound like the V.A., so if I were you I would stop talking right now. There are very few fraud cases involving Veterans who are seeking benefits, and those fraudulent claims they are not Veterans but wana- be Veterans. I worked as a volunteer service officer who has helped many fellow Veterans and through my experience they are bona fide to the core Veterans. If I spotted someone who was not telling the truth I would simply tell them “Sorry I can not help you, there is no proof to back your claim”, that simple. Are there phonies out there claiming they are Veterans? Yes, but not as many as one can claim because those who are can spot the phonies a mile away. What does need to be done is to revamp the V.A. system by simplifying everything from the top down, hire well trained doctors who care and will take care and back the Veteran, then things will work out well and in the long run save the taxpayers a Ron of money.

      • Hey Shitwitz

        You might want to check out the VAOIG Highlights from last month!

        __

        Former Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Veterans Affairs Regional Office Employee Pled Guilty to Wire Fraud and Identity Theft

        A former Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Regional Office employee pled guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identify theft in a scheme to defraud VA of approximately $838,000. An OIG investigation revealed the defendant’s duties included the review, approval, and authorization of veterans’ benefits claims. The defendant accessed the personally identifiable information (PII) of veterans and their spouses to manipulate preexisting claims and to create fake claims. Prior to authorizing the fictitious or altered claims, the defendant changed the direct deposit claim information to divert the stolen funds to his co-conspirators’ accounts. After receiving the direct deposits from VA, his co-conspirators provided the defendant with a kickback. The defendant manipulated records internally to avoid detection in this scheme. As a result of this investigation, nine individuals were arrested and convicted.

        __

        Former VA Field Examiner Convicted of Multiple Criminal Charges

        A VA OIG and Office of Personnel Management (OPM) OIG investigation revealed that while the defendant was a field examiner, he drafted a will for an incompetent veteran and deceptively inserted is name as the sole beneficiary of the veteran’s finances, valued at approximately $680,000. The defendant also lied to VA about his own purported disabilities to obtain a 100-percent permanent and total disability rating. After resigning, the defendant lied on his application to be a “background investigator” with OPM. The loss to VA due to his false benefit claims is approximately $320,000. He was convicted of wire fraud, mail fraud, theft of public money, conflict of interest, and false statements.

        __

        There is plenty of fraud going around with you bogus assine Veterans assistance personnel like yourself.

        You are just a piece of shit!

        __

      • Mr. Klearly, no need for the insults. I know about what happened in Philadelphia, that person was upper management. I’m talking about lower level workers who care about Veterans and their welfare. Instead of talking bullshit why not do something about it, I sure do, write letters to your Congressman or Senator, join a Veterans group and start petitions to improve services by the V.A. Instead of calling people names grow a fucking pair and fight back!

      • Plus Mr. Klearly I don’t work for the V.A., I am a volunteer service officer for the D.A.V., does that answer your question. Plus I said which you didn’t pay any attention to is I WILL NOT HELP ANY VETERAN WHO IS LYING TO ME AND ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE ONE ISN’T!!! I have help many Veterans get their 100 % and they were so happy and were greatly appreciative that I help them, so please sir, and I use that word lightly never call me a piece of shit because I will SUE YOU FOR SLANDER AND DEFAMATION OF CHARACTOR!! Also I don’t believe that you may be a Veteran, but a troll that likes to start trouble, so my advice is stay off this website.

      • @John Smilowitz – – – I sound like the VA? Seriously? You must have gotten your reading comprehension from a box of Cracker Jacks. Thing is, your reading comprehension is worth less than the free prize . . .

      • I didn’t say I total disagree with you, but some of your facts are not correct, there is a shortage of doctors and highly skilled technicians at the V.A. The AFGE isn’t as strong a union as you might think. What is needed is a strong V.A. Secretary that will do the job right without the interference of Congress. Get rid of some upper leadership at the V.A.and put in competent people in. That would be a big step in improving the V.A.

  4. “[…“Even something as simple as changing the percentages broke the system.”]”

    Today’s article fully explains then why last week, when I was trying over and over to contact VA to update my info and change my direct deposit the entire system was down for a while and one VA Employee even muttered under breath that they have been swamped with Veterans calling to find out where their compensation and pension checks were….?!!!

    This IT ‘glitch’ is nothing that another $10 BILLION won’t patch-up once shoveled to the problem.

    Next week we shall check back in with the VA and see if correcting punctuation in Dr. notes in a Veteran file will crash the system….wait for it….

    • Correcting punctuation in a Doctors notes crash the system? Can you imagine how overloaded that system would be if doctors would put comprehensive, correct notes in the veterans record to begin with?

    • Funny how that percentage thing never goes the other direction. You know, like my five day scrip for Oxy turning into a pallet load? My paltry comp turning into 1000% higher. A system that fails in favor of one side of two is a system designed to fail for the benefit of one.

  5. Glitch? I remain skeptical. Like the “glitch” in beneficiary travel pay. Had to do the 600 mile round trip to PDX VA Hospital. I knew this wasn’t going to go well when I applied, and it got bounced. Then was given lame but same excuses from two sources, and got the “well, fiscal has it now, it’s out of our hands”.

    The “Monopoly” cheater grew up and got a job at the VA. Pick a department or division, and you’ll likely find the same thing.

    “Don’t wonder where the money went,
    You elected crooks to represent,
    represent
    represent”

    Do they still make Pepsodent?

  6. “…a 50-year-old computer system” would be contemporaneous with Apollo 11.
    I’m not sure what would be worse: their lie of such a thing or the reality of such a thing.

    Yet this scenario does seem to occur at least once every year, as my spotty memory is prodding me to say.

    Personally, I do remember a similar situation arising back when I attempted to return to school (at a for-profit tech college back in 99-2000); at that time it was the entirety of the Monky-GI Bill’s monthly allotment (around $500 for fulltime sched) that was not getting to recipients, and which went on going missing for about 6 months.
    The excuse then was that it was due to the system being converted from paper-to-electronic.
    Yeahhhh. Didn’t buy it then either… and consequently didn’t get to finish the degree program out in the end.

  7. So, with today’s article pointing out the the small Glitch which only affects around 1% of Veterans. More clearly stated, the Glitch affects around 350,000 Veterans not receiving between $175 million to $750 million worth of entitlement and the VA claims it is due to outdated computers.

    Also as I pointed out in a post last night from the VAOIG Highlights for August 2018.

    “Processing Inaccuracies Involving Veterans’ Intent to File Submissions for Benefits”

    “The OIG conducted a review to determine whether Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) staff assigned correct effective dates on claims for compensation benefits with an intent to file (ITF). An ITF allows claimants the opportunity to provide minimal information related to the benefit sought and up to one year to submit a complete claim. VA may use the date of receipt of an ITF as an earlier effective date for paying benefits. The OIG found that VBA staff did not always assign correct effective dates from March 24, 2015, to September 30, 2017, resulting in over $72 million in improper payments.”

    Which means again that Veterans were rob of another $72 million. The Aged computer and systems were the supposed cause of the robbery.

    It is certainly clear, that the VA is preparing Congress to demand the VA accept more money to replace their aged computer infrastructure. No doubt we will be hearing about that some time immediately following the mid-term elections.

    This is where the VA will be hiding the cost of the much needed upgrade to their 50 year old computer system so they can support the new Cerner Software. So the cost will likely be around $100 Billion for the new computers. Total running total of the Cerner software implementation will now be at $110 Billion.

    Does anyone truly think that the Cerner project is going to come in under $150 Billion before they call it off?

    The Amounts that the VA keeps stealing from us Taxpayers is certainly growing every year. After all the VA’s current investments in land and buildings. I am sure they have all the storage space available to house and store all the new never to be used computers that will be outdated at the time of purchase with outdated operating systems.

  8. You can count me as one of those GI Bill recipients who hasn’t been paid ANYTHING yet for this semester and whose bills are piling up as a consequence. VA has screwed me over and over and over since I left the army. Not to mention that they were quick to garnish my disability the same month as this “glitch” even though my claim was under review…It’s seriously no wonder 22 vets a day commit suicide…All of that blood is on the VA!!

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