Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Veterans Benefits
Our service men and women are fighting with honor and putting their lives on the line, and many are expecting help with a college education when they get out of the service, but now, they're having to fight for that too. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On the Case.
WSVN -- U.S. Troops face great danger. Everything from gunfire to explosions to injuries.
A benefit many look foreword to when they get home, a paid college education, but delays in payments are being reported across the country. Jorge Pedraza says a paid education was a big factor in his decision to enlist.
Jorge Pedraza: "I served nine months in Iraq, and then came home to start college."
But, Jorge came home to fight another battle.
Jorge Pedraza: "I was suppose to have my education benefits provided for after I did my tour of duty. That's the agreement that I did with America."
Service men and women across the country are waiting for their GI benefits that were due when school started. Months later, nothing.
Brian Canning: "It's nerve wracking."
Students in Massachusetts are having the same problem.
Nathan Lambert: "They promised this plan would be in place and then it's not there."
Even when they share an apartment to make ends meet, vets are struggling living on food sent by parents and getting loans to pay for textbooks.
Michael Kail: "I haven't been able to buy food for about a month now."
Its called the post 9/11 GI Bill, and it benefits veterans who served more than 90 days of active duty after 9/11, and when it works it works well.
Mitchell Kail: "You get a lot more money for your personal use in support of your housing and they also pay you for books, which the old GI Bill did not."
At Florida International University, authorities are doing what they can to help veterans who have not received their benefits.
Mike Pischner: "We have a special deferment for veterans. Its actually a state law that allows them to get a tuition deferment each semester and they can get an additional deferment if the moneys are going to be delayed."
Mike Pischner says FIU is starting to see an increase in tuition reimbursements.
Mike Pischner: "Just be patient because the money is starting to come out now. Its a brand new program. I mean, its one of the best programs that they've had."
But the problems are by no means fixed. Just listen to what vets hear when they call to check a claim.
Phone Recording: "We ask for patience as we work quickly to issue payments. Please allow 10 to 12 weeks after your paperwork is submitted before checking the status of your claim."
Carmel Cafiero: "The VA says it is doing everything in its power to minimize delays for Veteran students, and its says emergency checks are available."
For more information:
United States Department of Veteran Affairs
Florida Regional Department of Veterans Affairs
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