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Veterans’ promised tuition checks AWOL
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“And then there is the snowball effect. One student said he paid out of pocket for tuition, but if the money doesn’t come in time he can’t register for classes next term. This will continue to snowball till the checks get out the door.
“This is something that should not and cannot be repeated in the future,” Mr. Campbell said.
The agency said it has issued 61,000 payments totaling $50 million to students. Mr. Campbell said it will be the end of October or early November before other veterans can expect to receive payments.
Brian LaGuardia, a 35-year-old graduate student of international affairs at New York University who served as an Army infantry staff sergeant in Iraq, also had to borrow money to make up for the $6,000 he was expecting to receive from the GI Bill to offset his tuition and an additional $1,000 for books - the same amount of money that is expected by Mr. Kamin.
“I’m not complaining about the GI Bill, but the VA does risk losing the confidence of its soldiers,” Mr. LaGuardia said. “It’s frustrating not to have the money you are counting on.
“It’s just not acceptable, and I think this is a little unreasonable for those who served their country.”
Mr. Kamin, meanwhile, said he will deal with the situation as best he can until the money arrives for his education or he is recalled to active duty.
“The proudest thing I ever did was to serve in the Army, and should I get called to active duty, I’ll be more than happy to serve again,” Mr. Kamin said.
The GI Bill enacted after Sept. 11 offers educational assistance to those who have served in the military since the terrorist attacks. It updates legislation originally passed in 1944 and went into effect Aug. 1.
The late-payments episode is the latest in a string of embarrassing cases of VA failures for the nation’s veterans.
Earlier this year, it was discovered that three VA medical centers failed to properly sterilize endoscopes, exposing 10,000 patients to infections including the HIV virus.
Last month, the agency sent letters to 600 veterans erroneously telling them they had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Last year, the VA was embroiled in numerous scandals involving tests and medical experiments on veterans in which officials failed to follow certain standards.
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