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The Supreme Court said Monday it will hear a case this fall that argues the Department of Veterans Affairs is shortchanging veterans.

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The Supreme Court will consider a long-running lawsuit over whether the Department of Veterans Affairs is shortchanging veterans on their education benefits.

A decision in favor of James Rudisill, the plaintiff in the case and a retired U.S. Army captain, could affect more than 1.7 million people. Rudisill wants the Supreme Court to overturn a decision from the full bench of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in favor of the Biden administration. Other appeals courts have ruled in Rudisill’s favor since the legal challenge began in 2015.

At issue is how the Department of Veterans Affairs calculates educational benefits for service members who earned benefits under two different versions of the GI Bill.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says veterans must first exhaust all of their benefits under a less generous program known as the Montgomery GI Bill before receiving benefits—including more money for college—under the revamped GI Bill that passed in 2009.

The plaintiff and veterans’ groups say that those who earned benefits under two GI Bill programs are entitled to receive 48 months of funding for their postsecondary education without first exhausting one benefit and to use those benefits with the most flexibility.

The Federal Circuit ruled in December that those who switch their unused Montgomery GI Bill benefits to the new plan are not entitled to receive 48 months of benefits.

That decision broke Congress’s promise to veterans, Rudisill’s lawyers argued in a filing with the Supreme Court.

“Never once has Congress required a veteran who qualified for multiple GI Bill programs, based on separate and distinct periods of qualifying service, to first forfeit or exhaust one benefit in order to obtain another, including to receive 48 months of total benefits,” the filing states.

The Biden administration, which urged the Supreme Court not to take the case, says the statutory language is unambiguous. The Trump administration also defended the department. A spokesperson for Veterans Affairs said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The GI Bill has been updated several times since it was first passed in 1944, but Congress has consistently allowed veterans with separate service periods who qualified under different GI Bill programs to get money for up to 48 months. GI Bill programs are capped at 36 months.

That’s why Rudisill—a Bronze Star recipient—thought he had 22 months of funding left when he applied to use the more generous Post-9/11 GI benefits he earned while serving in Afghanistan and Iraq for five years. He first enlisted in 2000 and had already used about 25 months’ worth under the previous version of the GI Bill for his undergraduate education.

Veteran Affairs told him he had 10 months left—a decision that kicked off the lengthy legal process that has wound its way from the Board of Veterans’ Appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider the case as part of its next term, which begins in October.

“I’m elated for my brother and sister veterans,” Rudisill told the Chicago Sun Times.

Rudisill, 43, had planned to attend divinity school at Yale University in order to become an Army chaplain with the additional money. He couldn’t afford the program otherwise. He now works for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Several veterans’ education groups filed briefs in favor of Rudisill.

“We are pleased the Supreme Court granted cert as this case raises important questions regarding veterans’ rights when they have qualified for both the Post-9/11 GI Bill and the Montgomery GI Bill,” said Della M. Justice, vice president for legal affairs at Veterans Education Success, in a statement. “When veterans serve their country through additional periods of military service and thereby qualify for both GI Bill benefits, we do believe they have the right to those benefits.”

Attorneys general for dozens of states also urged the Supreme Court to take the case. The attorney general for Virginia, where Rudisill lives, wrote in a filing that the Federal Circuit erred in its decision, “fundamentally disrespecting veterans and the services they have rendered to our nation.”

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