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State prosecutors ask Supreme Court to protect veterans’ rights

(The Center Square) – Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares is leading a bipartisan group of attorneys general from 33 states and the District of Columbia in asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case of a veteran denied certain educational benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Miyares and the coalition of attorneys general assert Virginia resident and decorated Army veteran Jason Rudisill was wrongly denied his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits.

After completing his first tour of duty, Rudisill, as an enlisted soldier, utilized his Montgomery GI Bill benefits to complete his undergraduate degree.

“[Rudisill] was twice honorably discharged, and relied on approximately 25 months of education benefits under the Montgomery GI Bill before November 2007 to obtain his undergraduate degree. He then reenlisted, was commissioned as an officer, and served a third tour from 2007 to 2011,” according to the brief filed by the state prosecutors.

After completing his third tour of duty, Rudisill was accepted into Yale Divinity School with hopes of returning to the armed forces as a chaplain.

Rudisill attempted to use his Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, but the VA denied his request. The VA defended its decision by saying Rudisill was not entitled to use both the Montgomery GI Bill and the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

The VA specifies veterans’ preference in deciding which GI Bill they opt to utilize, “If you’re eligible for more than one education benefit, such as the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill, you must choose which benefit to receive.”

Advocates for Rudisill argue veterans with “multiple requisite periods of service” are entitled up to 48 months of educational benefits.

During Rudisill’s third tour of duty Congress passed the Post 9/11 GI Bill.

“He applied for Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits based on his understanding that, under the Bill, he had approximately 22 months of education benefits remaining out of his 48 aggregate months,” the brief explained.

The VA determined Rudisill’s Post-9/11 benefits would be limited to 10 months and 16 days, “because [Rudisill] had used some of his entitled benefits under the prior version of the GI Bill.”

The Montgomery GI Bill and the Post-9/11 GI Bill entitle eligible veterans to receive up to 36 months of tuition payouts. The Montgomery GI Bill offers up to a set monthly amount, which is sent directly to the student. The Post-9/11 GI Bill, pays the tuition to the school. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill students are eligible for housing or book stipends, which is not included under the Montgomery GI Bill.

The coalition of attorneys general  contends hundreds of thousands of veterans’ “rights” are in “jeopardy” by the Federal Circuit’s decision and are requesting the Supreme Court “secure” those rights by striking the lower court’s decision.

The state prosecutors say the decision made by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit to uphold the VA’s decision in the case of Rudisill v. McDonough, could negatively impact post-9/11 veterans.

“The Federal Circuit took away both James Rudisill and thousands of other post 9/11 veterans’ GI education benefits,” said Miyares. “This decision actively hurts veterans’ reentry into civilian life and deprives them of earned benefits.”

Miyares is concerned the decision will negatively impact veterans as they transition out of the military.

“Over 700,000 veterans live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This decision actively hurts veterans’ reentry into civilian life and deprives them of earned benefits,” Miyares said.

The Center Square reached out to the VA for comment; it had yet to respond at the time of publication.

State prosecutors joining Miyares are from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

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