Hank Investigates: Veterans' Problems
Why were these vets left in the lurch? And what's being done about it? Hank investigates.
The gunfire. The danger. The explosions. The fear. For Army veteran Nathan Lambert, the quietly safe library at Mass Bay Community College is just what he'd wished for after 6 intense years in Iraq. He didn't think he'd be fighting a different battle to stay here.
Nathan Lambert Army Veteran
"They promised this plan would be in place and then it's not there."
Like thousands of US troops, Nathan, and classmate Brian, made the deal that they'd fight for their country--risk their lives--then get their college education paid for under the new post 9/11 GI Bill. But school started this September and no checks for tuition or books or housing arrived.
Brian Canning Navy Veteran
"It's nerve wracking."
We found many returning local veterans now fighting the same battle, trying to get their GI bill money to attend college. But like this band of brothers, attending UMass and sharing this apartment in Mission Hill. They're behind on bills, living on food sent by their parents, and struggling to pay for their textbooks, because there was no money from Uncle Sam.
"I haven't been able to buy food for about a month now."
Problem was The US Veterans Administration was overwhelmed by applications for education benefits. Now officials report, there are still tens of thousands of applications to approve. Vu, an ex marine, is still waiting.
Vu Tran, Marine Veteran
"I just want to be able to get his money and put it towards some good use and not have to worry about it and focus on my schoolwork."
Here at Mass Bay Community College, the veterans' counselor knows some cash-strapped veterans just gave up.
Marie Hahs, Mass Bay Community College Counselor
"There were students who couldn't go to school this semester because they couldn't get their monies in a timely manner."
Some schools are trying to help simply allowing veterans to attend classes free and pay their tuition when the feds come through with the cash.
Carole Berotte Joseph, Mass Bay Community College President
"They have served and many of them were actually recruited by being told that they were going to have this money when they returned home. So I think we owe it to them to really come through."
Now, a month into the school year, the VA is working to hand out emergency checks for housing and books. The VA secretary says:
"It's necessary because we recognize the hardships some of our veterans face."
These vets say, that's great, but too late. That money won't make up for their maxed out charge cards, high-interest loans and expensive overdraft fees.
Jason Mizula, Veteran
"It's unfortunate the position we're in right now."
If you're still waiting for money from the veterans' administration, we've posted all the info you need on how to get your emergency check, and what to expect in the future.
(Copyright (c) 2009 Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)