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New privately run 'GI Bill' site could raise concerns

Oct. 22, 2013 - 05:03PM   |  
The gibill.asia uses military logos, but it is not affiliated with the military.
The gibill.asia uses military logos, but it is not affiliated with the military. (Screenshot)
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Little more than a year after government officials took over the private website www.gibill.com, saying that it misled veterans, a new website has popped up that may renew similar concerns.

The site, www.gibill.asia, encourages vets to use their GI Bill benefits to study at various overseas universities. The site displays U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force logos, as well as the iconic Uncle Sam image from World War I-era recruiting posters. This version reads: “We want you or your kids to study free in Asia.”

The website apparently has no connection to the U.S. government.

“I have no affiliation to anyone,” said Nile Mosley, who told Military Times in a telephone interview that he developed the site independently and is semi-retired and not working for any organization, public or private. “It’s just a cool idea.”

Mosley said he worked previously at Asian University in Thailand as a software engineering professor. During that time, he said he met many U.S. military veterans who enjoyed studying abroad.

He added that he does not intend for his site to appear to be affiliated with the U.S. government and would be happy to change the site to make that clear.

The site touts education abroad as “a four-year study vacation” and suggests student veterans can get more out of their GI Bill benefits by taking classes in foreign countries with a lower cost of living and pocketing leftover GI Bill money.

However, the Post-9/11 GI Bill, the most commonly used vet education benefit, adjusts its housing stipends to match an area’s cost of living. Several pages on the site also have typos and grammatical errors.

The site describes several vet education benefits, contains links to the Veterans Affairs Department website, provides instructions and touts some benefits of studying abroad. It promotes dozens of universities in several countries, from China and Japan to Russia, Israel and Kuwait.

In June 2012, the attorneys general of several states agreed to a settlement with the marketing company behind www.gibill.com, requiring the company to pay $2.5 million in investigative costs and hand the domain over to VA. Officials said many vets believed that site was an official government entity and disclosed personal information, such as Social Security numbers, to the site.

A few months later, VA announced it was trademarking the phrase “GI Bill.”

The gibill.com site now redirects visitors to the official VA website. But other commonly used extensions — gibill.edu, gibill.org, gibill.net — do not, instead loading error messages or blank pages.

Mosley said he also has the rights to gibill.eu and is planning to do another version of his site focused on study in Europe.

A spokeswoman for Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., who has sharply criticized other organizations that he viewed as misleading veterans or wasting their education benefits, said his office did not know about gibill.asia previously but will ask VA to look into it.

Officials with VA, the Justice Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau declined to answer questions about gibill.asia or were unavailable.

“We can’t comment on someone’s personal website, but I have forwarded the information on to our people in education services at [the Veterans Benefits Administration] for potential review,” VA spokesman Randy Noller said.

Mosley said he does not follow U.S. politics and was not aware of the gibill.com controversy.

“I don’t want to piss anyone off. I just enjoy running the site,” he said.

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