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Archive for Thursday, October 1, 2009

College veterans await checks still pending from new GI Bill

Felix Zacharias, president of the Kansas University Collegiate Veterans Association, says his organization is working to obtain the monthly stipend from the new GI Bill for its college veterans. “At some point, a guy’s got to eat,” he said.

Felix Zacharias, president of the Kansas University Collegiate Veterans Association, says his organization is working to obtain the monthly stipend from the new GI Bill for its college veterans. “At some point, a guy’s got to eat,” he said.

October 1, 2009

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As veterans expecting checks from the new Post 9/11 GI Bill continued to find empty mailboxes this month, it put Kansas University students like Daniel Craig in a bad spot.

Expecting his $1,000 monthly stipend that had been part of his planned budget, Craig hadn’t begun to look for a job this semester. The medically retired veteran expected the allowance to cover his expenses.

“I just had to apply for a loan” to pay for monthly expenses like rent and other bills, Craig said. “I know a lot of guys in that boat.”

Facing a large number of applicants for the new GI Bill, which offers more financial incentives than its predecessor, the Department of Veterans Affairs was unable to process all the claims in the expected time.

At KU alone, more than 300 students receive GI Bill benefits. More than 25,000 have signed up nationwide.

A VA announcement last week said emergency advances on payments up to $3,000 would be available to veterans who had not yet received checks. Those payments will be available beginning on Friday to veterans who can show a photo identification and proof of enrollment.

The checks will be available at regional Veterans Affairs centers — the closest one to KU is in Wichita.

KU offered the Veterans Affairs department space for a representative on campus to deliver the emergency checks, said Betty Childers, Department of Veterans Affairs certifying official at KU. Plans had not yet been finalized as of Wednesday afternoon.

She said students would not have to worry about late tuition payments, as KU allows veterans extra time to pay for tuition as their GI Bill funding becomes available.

Felix Zacharias, president of the KU Collegiate Veterans Association, said his organization had been working with the VA and members of the Kansas congressional delegation to ensure that 300 GI Bill students wouldn’t have to cut class to make trips to Wichita to ensure they get their funding.

Zacharias said he understood that the VA was swamped, but appreciated the availability of the upcoming emergency funds.

“It’s a simple financial problem,” he said. “At some point, a guy’s got to eat.”

He said that he, too, had heard from a number of KU veterans facing eviction or are unable to pay monthly bills.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the VA announced that veterans could also apply for the emergency advance online at va.gov starting Friday. Online applicants would receive emergency payments through the mail after processing.

“VA is adapting to meet the financial needs of our veteran-students who are on campus,” U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki said in a release. “They should be focusing on their studies, not worrying about financial difficulties.”

The VA encouraged veterans to check mailboxes and bank accounts before leaving for a VA office, as funds may have arrived before they leave.

Comments

napoleon969 5 years ago

I find it amazing that the VA never seems to learn from past history. In 1974, when the VA was experiencing similar payment delivery problems to the significant numbers of Vietnam era vets attending college nationwide, the VA hired about 20 vets to serve as on-campus benefits counselors across Kansas. After about 6 weeks of training we were located in offices on the campuses of a number of large universities. I had an office in Carruth O'Leary (room 301) and, over the next 4 1/2 years we worked ourselves out of our jobs. We provided information about benefits including disability compensation, VA home loans, VA educational loans, GI Bill benefits and were there for face-to-face meetings to assist in certification and delivery problems. If memory serves, there were over 1,000 vets attending KU during the years I was on campus (1974-1979). We also had a work study program that employed a number of vets in outreach activities.

It would be my observation and suggestion that a program, similar to the Vet-Rep-On-Campus program, might be a real good idea.

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blindrabbit 5 years ago

What a sorry situation, Napoleon is rigth-on. Maybe, they should do what was done during the Viet Nam era. While attending KU after returning from Nam, I used to pick-up my monthly G.I. Bill check from an office in Strong Hall. Never had a problem, other than feeling somewhat out-of-place with the anti-war sentiment on campus at that time; of course a situation which I totally agreed with.

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Danielle Brunin 5 years ago

I find it amazing that our men and women in the service can essentially be activated at a moment's notice to train and then travel halfway across the world, yet the VA just can't seem to get these checks for tuition to veterans a month and half into the semester. Their regular checks haven't arrived so they're supposed to apply for emergency funds to arrive in the mail? That sucks!

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Henry Salmans 5 years ago

REF: Felix Zacharias, president of the KU Collegiate Veterans Association, said his organization had been working with the VA and members of the Kansas congressional delegation to ensure that 300 GI Bill students wouldn’t have to cut class to make trips to Wichita to ensure they get their funding. - OUTSTANDING

Felix,

Thank you for your work and representation of our local Veterans. As I'm local, a retired Marine, and my eldest son goes to KU it would be my honor if you'd let me buy you lunch sometime. Hope you look me up and drop me a line.

When I spoke to my wife & family months ago about this program I wasn't very optimistic about the timeliness, it's a shame but I'm comforted to hear that KU is doing its best for the Veteran Students.

Andy Hyland,

Thanks for reporting this story, I'll be hitting the forums at TogetherWeServed (over a 1,000,000 military members) to see what's being said as I'm sure this is a hot topic.

Ultimately I believe it will all be sorted out but how frustrating. While in service of our country among other things we demand diligence of our military, tragic that the inefficient execution of this program demonstrates a measure of disrespect.

With Utmost Respect ~ Semper Fi, Hank

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napoleon969 5 years ago

In my humble opinion, the second the New G I Bill was signed into law the VA should have been gearing up for the coming groundswell. On second thought, given the VA's historic inertia, it probably should have been gearing up when the bill was first introduced in Congress. I really hope they get it sorted out.

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Mike Blur 5 years ago

toe and Esq2eB, way to hijack the thread. I've had government-run health care--I was in the US military. While I never had an operation, I've never had to wait for "government approval" of health care procedures. In fact, when I was in the service, military health care centers were run with a stark efficiency I haven't experienced since I left the service.

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shorttrees 5 years ago

And how long ago were you in the military Mike?? It hasn't been getting any better for at least the last 15 years for most of the ex-military I know. For example, my BIL was disabled while in the service, viral induced adult onset rickets (he picked it up in a South Korean hospital while being treated after a military truck accident). He saw 27 different military doctors before the Army decided he should be discharged--but they still had no idea why he was messed up. One trip to Mayo gave him a diagnosis and treatment for what is now 60% disability and death before age 60 (he's already outlived the original prognosis by 6 years). I've been told his experience is typical.

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KansasVoter 5 years ago

toe (Anonymous) says… "Imagine waiting for approval for your operation under government health care."

Why is it that republicans have complete and total faith in everything that the military says and does, but they don't trust any other government entity?

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blindrabbit 5 years ago

toe: Your Republican/military comment is totally correct. Of course guess who has made the money on our phony wars: Repubs., Neo-cons and other mongers.

Santini: My guess is that you did not do your duty and serve in the military.

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