By Bob Brewin 10/26/2009
DURHAM, N.C. — Next month, the Veterans Affairs Department will deploy an automated tool that will make a “big difference” in the processing of claims for education benefits for veterans attending college under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki told Nextgov late last week. Speaking at the dedication of a memorial at Duke University for graduates who have lost their lives on active duty since World War II, Shinseki said VA still has a “a slight backlog” of claims for education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill, which led him to order emergency payments to veterans early this month. But Shinseki said he believed the surge of claims under the GI Bill waiting to be processed has passed. Keith Wilson, director of the Office of Education Service at the Veterans Benefits Administration, testified at a House hearing on Oct. 15 that since May, VA had provided 210,000 veterans with certificates of eligibility for education benefits. More than 44,500 students have received payments under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. Wilson said the agencystill needed to process 30,000 certificates of eligibility.