In the year 2008, Post 9/11 veterans’ educational assistance act was made law by the congress. This measure was responsible for the amendment of title 38 of the US constitution. This was done so as to include the third chapter which deals with extension of educational benefits for veterans who have been in military service since September 11 2001. It is these education benefits that are commonly referred to as the post 911 GI Bill. Currently people are calling it the new GI BILL.
The social condition that the bill seeks to address is emotional and secondary illiteracy among war veterans all over the country. This is done through paying of college fees and providing welfare assistance to veterans in a model similar to that of the original GI Bill that came into force immediately after the Second World War (Budahn, 2011)..
The New GI Bill is attempting to address these problems. For veterans who have been in military service for more than three years since 2001, the act provides that they receive 100% funding for a four year undergraduate program. The veterans are also able to transfer the benefits to their spouses and children on condition that they serve for more than ten years. This act was proposed by Senator Jim Webb in 2007. The act was affected on august 2009 with some parts of it earmarked for change.
For one to be eligible for the benefits they must be in active military service, they must have attained high school certification. The officers must opt for university or college education (Scoot, 2009).
It is the department of veteran affairs that is charged with managing the veterans. For us to talk about the roles, and functions of the department of veteran affairs, we have to understand how it operates and the challenges it is facing. The VA as it is commonly referred to is facing a growing challenge in its operating environment. There has been a significant increase in claims and services per patient while legislative and national security policies are full of uncertainties.
By understanding these obstacles and their effects on VA, we will be able to analyze the roles and functions of the VA department. A big challenge to the VA is the changing veteran population. Due to old age, the veterans and their families is developing complex needs with expectations that the VA should be able to provide for them. The Vietnam veterans constitute a significant percentage of veterans with age related complications like prostate cancer and diabetes. This has increased their demand for better health care services. The VA is also expected to provide benefits and services to the families of these ageing veterans (Whitney, 2007). Disability compensation is the area that has been profoundly affected in recent years. This is due to change in nature of wounds inflicted during combat. Most disabilities experienced by veterans’ today e.g.| are more complex and require advanced treatment.
TODAY, THE VA PROVIDES THE FOLLOWING SERVICES:
The VA has maintained the distinction of being the largest integrated health care system in North America. It has grown from 54 hospitals in 1931 to 153 fully furnished hospitals today. There are more than seven hundred outpatient clinics that are community based. Currently, the VA runs two hundred and sixty vet centers across the country. The medical facilities offer a wide range of services ranging from medical to rehabilitation. The VA also provides telemedicine which is intended to increase efficiency in service provision (Gaytan, 2011).
Another function of VA is to provide compensation and welfare benefits to the war veterans. These pension and compensation cover about four million veterans.
The VA is also charged with the task of honoring the veterans through establishment of unique cemeteries reserved for the veterans. The agency also undertakes maintenance of the cemeteries and other national shrines. In the year 2010, the agency has maintained more than three million gravesites and one hundred and sixty four properties related to the veterans(Alford, 2010).
Currently, there are about 107000 homeless veterans in the country. The VA plans to reduce this number to zero by the year 2014 through the provision of home support funds.
The VA is committed to reducing paperless claims related to disability by the year 2014. It also strives to ensure veterans process their claims in a period shorter than 125 days (Gaytan, 2011).
97% of veterans are suffering from alcohol abuse; this is one of VA’s goals to reduce alcohol consumption among veterans. The department ensures that the veterans receive eight sessions of psychotherapy (Alford, 2010).
The department continues with scientific researches that are geared toward service improving and portfolio balance in the NRAC (Bertoni, 2011).
The department is charged with the responsibility of saving cost incurred by the veteran’s health requirements thereby increasing their benefits. It also ensures that the cases of mistaken payments are eliminated.
In its strategic planning framework, the department of veteran affairs has split the GI policy implementation strategy into four main components. These components are responsible for better discharge of services by the VA. They are the ones that define the functions and roles of the VA. These components include; four strategic goals which are crosscutting, integrated objectives’, integrated strategies and radical initiatives. The first component is not limited to one specific goal. It is charged with the task of providing a common set of premises on which initiatives and operation strategies are based. The objectives are meant to help the VA to build strategies on which the department’s goals of service provision can be achieved. Integrated objectives are courses of action that are meant to realize VA’s vision and objectives in implementing the GI policy (Bergmann, Duggan 2007).
Veterans have derived a lot of benefits from the services offered by this agency. First, psychotherapy sessions have been successful in changing their drinking habits while ensuring their mental well being. The department’s collaboration with NRAC is a crucial step in understanding specific needs of veterans. The adoption of seamless interactivity between departments has enabled the veterans to acquire all information without having to move from one office to another (Budahn, 2011).
Elimination of homelessness is another benefit that veterans are enjoying under the VA. The intention of this plan is to ensure that each veteran has a house and their families are well catered for. The use of SCIP process has eliminated wastage through unification of the budget affairs. This has increased the department’s efficiency in dealing with veteran affairs. Reducing hiring cycle through human capital management has ensured that veterans and their families continue to enjoy their benefits without unnecessary delays. Previously it took more than 125 days to process claims. This has significantly reduced because the veterans can now enjoy the full 21st benefits and services (Bertoni, 2011). The central government through the department of defense has been financing these benefits and services since the adoption of the act. The money is sourced from the taxpayer’s kitty.
After the Second World War, the government passed into law Title 38 which was supposed to cater for all the men and women who had retired from the military so that they could live a comfortable life. In this act, the veterans were to enjoy full benefits of military personnel including free medical care and social services.
Although it did not cover the education and spouses’ part, this act went a long way in ensuring that the veterans had a decent life after service. This was the only way of dealing with the problems afflicting the veterans.
Supplemental appropriations act of 2008 was adopted through the act of congress in order to introduce modifications to the previous bill. After adopting the act in 2008, the state amended the third part of US code so that retiring military officers who served in the army from 2001 would be able to enjoy more benefits and services.
It also opened eligibility to members of the National Guard. The law has also reduced the housing allowance for online learners which has enabled the service members and their spouses to get annual stipend of thousand dollars. The act has also removed the state to state tuition fees for the servicemen who decide to enroll in state colleges. In addition to these benefits, the bill was also modified to set 17000 dollars as the cap for veterans who may desire to attend private colleges (Gaytan, 2011)
The original GI bill also provided for college education for veterans although there were some limitations. The ability of the veteran to transfer benefits to the spouse or children was not provided for in the original bill. These two acts were initiated by decorated war veterans turned politicians who felt that it was necessary to safeguard the future of the servicemen and their families.
In his proposal for improvement of the act, Senator Jim Webb who is a decorated Vietnam veteran wanted the war veterans to be accorded better living standards due to the sacrifices they make for the sake of the country. Other prominent people who sponsored the bill are representative Bobby Scott and senator Olympia Snowe. The democrats and a few republicans support the passage of the supplemental bill after a bipartisan deal. The veteran education assistance bill was then passed on June 19 2008 by majority (Bertoni, 2011).
The controversy generated has led the bill to face opposition from some politicians. Issues of compensation during the buy up option were a key concern for the opponents of this bill.
The bill does not offer any provision on how the contribution is supposed to be incorporated into it when it is fully enforced. The VA has asserted that some service members will not be refunded their contribution of six hundred dollars. The bill faced opposition from some officials from the department of defense, President Bush and senator McCain believed it would impact negatively on military retention which is, critical to the country’s defense (Scoot, 2009).
Effective approach to veteran affairs is essential in building the morale of the disciplined forces. It also ensures that no serviceman will be abandoned at his hour of need by the state. The ineffectiveness of the first bill meant that veterans would continue to be locked out of certain aspects of their lives. By denying them a chance to study on subsidized fees, the bill was discriminating against these important members of the American society. The other weakness that promoted ineffectiveness of the first bill was the exclusion of children and spouses from enjoying the veteran’s benefits (Alford, 2010). This meant that the veterans would still suffer since they are the ones expected to provide for their children.
Historical records show that most veterans commit suicide due to stress and psychological problems. By offering eight sessions of psychoanalysis to the veterans as one of the benefits, the bill has eliminated cases of suicides. It is also necessary to note that the policy eliminated the stress related to academic achievements because the veterans have been given a chance to pursue higher education, which will enable them to get part-time employment.