News Releases

Letter to VA Secretary, signed by eight U.S. Senators, follows investigative report

 

(Washington, D.C.) –Today, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, urged Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald to investigate allegations that a number of questionable unaccredited educational institutions have received G.I. Bill benefits despite federal regulations to prevent it. The urging follows a report by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

 

The letter, signed by Senator Murray, as well as Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Jack Reed (D-RI), stated: “The report documents a number of educationally questionable, and in some instances morally repugnant, institutions that have inexplicably received VA education benefits.  These include an unlicensed massage therapy school, an institute whose parent organization is a listed hate group, and an institute on human sexuality claiming to be in possession of child pornography.  If true, this is a terrible failure of our promise to veterans and taxpayers,” the Senators wrote.

 

“The VA is charged with protecting our veterans from unscrupulous entities by enforcing federal regulations allowing only those institutions whose instruction is ‘consistent in quality, content, and length’ with accredited institutions.  VA’s enforcement and oversight is critical given over 2,000 unaccredited institutions have reportedly received more than $260 million in G.I. Bill benefits between 2009 and 2014.”

 

Earlier this month, in response to an article by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting that documents University of Phoenix’s deceptive marketing practices and its infringement on military trademarks, Durbin – Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense – called on the Department of Defense to investigate the allegations made in the report and take immediate action to bar the company from further access to service members until the issues are resolved.

 

Full text of today’s letter is below.

 

July 17, 2015

 

Secretary Robert A. McDonald

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

810 Vermont Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C.  20420

 

Dear Secretary McDonald:

 

We are writing to bring to your attention allegations that a number of questionable unaccredited educational institutions have received G.I. Bill benefits despite federal regulations to prevent it, according to a report this week from the Center for Investigative Reporting.  We urge you to investigate these claims swiftly and to increase the Department of Veterans Affairs’ enforcement of its protections for veterans’ education benefits.

 

Federal law permits unaccredited educational institutions to receive Post-9/11 G.I. Bill benefits in limited circumstances to ensure veterans can access professional and trade school expertise.  The VA is charged with protecting our veterans from unscrupulous entities by enforcing federal regulations allowing only those institutions whose instruction is “consistent in quality, content, and length” with accredited institutions.  VA’s enforcement and oversight is critical given over 2,000 unaccredited institutions have reportedly received more than $260 million in G.I. Bill benefits between 2009 and 2014. 

 

The report documents a number of educationally questionable, and in some instances morally repugnant, institutions that have inexplicably received VA education benefits.  These include an unlicensed massage therapy school, an institute whose parent organization is a listed hate group, and an institute on human sexuality claiming to be in possession of child pornography.  If true, this is a terrible failure of our promise to veterans and taxpayers.  We urge you to immediately and thoroughly investigate these allegations, and step up the VA’s enforcement of its regulations in partnership with state approving agencies. 

 

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.