The Department of Veterans Affairs cannot possibly stoop any lower than this. According to KSL Channel 5, Sam Gilligan enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps right out of high school in 1999. He fought in Iraq and received an Honorable Discharge in 2007 after eight years of service. As a result, he qualified for $10,000 worth of education benefits.
He didn't get them, and he won't get them, even though Veterans Affairs admits they screwed up. Not even intervention by U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch could change their minds. Watch KSL news video embedded below:
Gilligan estimates he spent hundreds of hours making phone calls, filing papers and getting the runaround. An attorney helped him with appeals and a board hearing, at no charge, and Senator Hatch intervened. After a previous KSL story aired in 2008, Gilligan says the VA responded with a flurry of activity and promises to get it right - but no benefits. Finally, on March 12th, 2010, in a letter sent to Senator Hatch, the Board of Veterans' Appeals issued a final denial. It states, "The Board is sympathetic to the Veteran's situation, especially in light of the fact that he was incorrectly denied benefits during his eligibility period." The letter even cites the procedural confusion, but concluded that the Board shall be bound in its decision by the regulations of the Department.
So they concluded that they had found a mistake in his record, yet they are denying the claims anyway. Worse yet, Veteran's Affairs refuses to tell the public exactly what the problem was. Where's Tim McVeigh now that we really need him?
The Department of Veterans Affairs says Gilligan can file a motion with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. But Gilligan says that's unlikely at this point. Gilligan continues to work towards a degree in social work and pays for his education with loans and grants. Barack Obama can throw away billions in "stimulus" for rich bankers and welfare moms, but is too cheap to scare up $10,000 for this guy's education. The VA's eligibility requirements are spelled out HERE. Also visit the Utah Department of Veteran's Affairs website for more information.
Update July 29th: Good news; Sam Gilligan will be getting his benefits. Candace Allred and other workers at the Veterans Center at Salt Lake Community College saw the original KSL story and called Gilligan. But before their activism could take effect, the VA called the Veterans Center and said Gilligan's benefits were on the way. Neither Gilligan nor the Veterans Center knows exactly what happened to turn the benefits on, nor did the VA shed any light on it.