Senator urges passage of VA debt collection bill
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison asked Senate leaders Wednesday to quickly pass a bill that would prohibit the Department of Veterans Affairs from sending debt collection notices to families of soldiers killed in combat, the San Antonio Express-News reported Thursday.
According to the report, Hutchison, R-Texas, said collecting “a few hundred dollars from bereaved mothers and fathers for something as simple as debt for education benefits is ludicrous.”
The bill was crafted after 22 families in 14 states, including three in Texas, were contacted by the VA to pay a total of $56,000 in debts for educational loans after troops were killed while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, the Express-News wrote.
VA spokesman Matt Smith told the paper that the agency supports Hutchison’s legislation to change the law, which requires debt notices be sent to families of deceased members of the armed services to collect money owed to the United States for education assistance.
Hutchison, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee for military construction, Veterans Affairs and related agencies, said her bill would abolish that law and make debt forgiveness retroactive to Sept. 11, 2001, the paper reported.
That would allow families who have paid college loans for fallen soldiers to be reimbursed.