Retired Army Captain Wins 5+ Year Court Battle Against the VA for G.I. Benefits

A US Appeals Court ruled on July 8th in favor of retired Army Captain James Rudisill, who sued the Veterans Administration over his G.I. Benefits. The Appeals Court ruling could potentially help 1.7 million other veterans access GI benefits for which they qualify.

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Rudisill earned G.I. Benefits under two different G.I. bills: the Montgomery bill and the Post 9/11 bill. The law allows veterans who earn benefits to tap into both in order to further their education. The retired Army Captain received the first benefits under the Montgomery Bill and used part of them. He was accepted to Yale in their prestigious Divinity program. When he attempted to access the more generous benefits available under the Post 9/11 bill, the VA cut the amount of stipends he could have because he already used some of the GI benefits.

That amounted to only 10 more months of schooling — not the 22 months he was counting on. Without that, he couldn’t afford to go to Yale…

The just-announced appeals court ruling affirmed an earlier decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in favor of Rudisill.

“It’s an across-the-board win from our perspective,” says McHugh, who with attorney David J. DePippo has represented Rudisill pro bono in challenging the VA’s decision. “We encourage the VA to broadly and promptly implement this.”

A VA spokesman declined to comment in detail but, in an email, wrote: “VA is assessing this decision at this time. We are committed to providing veterans the benefits they have earned and deserve.”

Stephanie Zimmerman at the Chicago Sun-Times (court decision is at this link)

A Retired Army Captain and his dream of helping others

Rudisill currently works as an FBI Special Agent. After his service, he went to work for the FBI as a counterterrorism agent. But after watching veterans become despondent from war, he wanted to go to school to help them by becoming an Army Chaplain. The court case dragged on for 5 years, which caused his dream of going to Yale to help his fellow veterans fall by the wayside. Soon he was past the age where the Army wanted him (38), and since he’s now in his 40’s, he had to find another path. He is currently attending Nashotah House Theological Seminary in Wisconsin. He is working on his Master’s Degree and plans to minister to first-responders and other vets.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Rudisill’s service in war caused him to reflect on life. It “really makes one appreciate how delicate life is, how precious it is.”

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Featured photo: Screenshot of retired Army Captain James Rudisill via Chicago Sun Times by Julia Rendleman

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