Veterans benefits then and now

There's been a social safety net for returning war veterans for generations. But are benefits still as good as they used to be?

When John Yaeger, 26, left the Marines three years ago, he had trouble finding work -- like a lot of veterans. So he went to college with benefits from the post-9/11 G.I. bill.

“It’s amazing, actually,” he says, “One hundred percent of my tuition is covered.”

A housing subsidy covers most of his mortgage payment. Yaeger gets a disability check, too, for a shoulder injury. Yaeger says support for veterans seems better for his generation than it was for his father and grandfather, who also served. But others say it hasn’t changed enough.

Injured veterans have strong disability benefits, says Tom Tarantino, chief policy officer for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“But the process to get those benefits is still stuck in the 1960s,” he says. “It’s too hard, it takes too long, and the decisions have a shockingly high error rate.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been working to modernize the claims process, but Tarantino says there’s another threat on the horizon. As Congress takes on the federal budget crisis, he says veteran’s benefits could be in danger.    

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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