On Your Side: G.I. benefits question - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

On Your Side: G.I. benefits question

Markeesha Harris talks to NBC12's Diane Walker (Source: NBC12) Markeesha Harris talks to NBC12's Diane Walker (Source: NBC12)

Disabled U.S. Army veteran Markeesha Harris was recently denied education benefits and she says the Department of Veterans Affairs is wrong for taking away what she earned serving this country. She contacted the On Your Side Investigators after, she says, no one would listen to her argument.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Muskogee, Oklahoma approved the veteran for financial aid then took it back. Markeesha says it's derailing all of her plans.

Markeesha saw assurances in a letter stating she had 36 months of benefits and 60 percent of her tuition covered.  

"I was an honorable discharge. I went overseas. I want my benefits," said Markeesha.

Muskogee, Oklahoma V.A. certified her eligibility for G.I. benefits. Nearly a month later, a second letter brought shocking news.

Markeesha reads part of what the letter said: "We regret that we can not approve your claim."

The cancellation letter claims the veteran maxed out on the 48-month education limit.  Markeesha disagrees and says her stepfather's benefits, under what's called Chapter 35, paid for her education until recently.

"He transferred it over to me," said Markeesha. "But, they subtracted that 48 months from me as a soldier. So, I can't continue even to use Post 9-11, which is my own GI bill."

She feels the V.A. hasn't listened to her argument.

"I don't want to be pushed aside," said Markeesha. "They are very good about pushing us aside."

She finds the V.A.'s own website conflicting.

"It states as of 2013, you can use 81 months of GI Bill benefits," said Markeesha.

I took her concerns to V.A. staffers here and out of state, who reviewed Markeesha's complaint but declined to go on camera. I requested the code disqualifying Markeesha. The V.A. provided it, showing 48 months is the limit, even under multiple programs. Another law says extensions are granted if the veteran had not exceeded the limit prior to October 1, 2013.

The V.A. says Markeesha hit the limit in 2009 and is no longer eligible. Though not surprised, it's not what she hoped to hear.

Senator Warner's office also worked on Markeesha's behalf.

The V.A. says it regrets the error, but Markeesha was notified of the mistake within three weeks and the limitations were explained to her.

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