V.A. Issue Delays G.I. Bill Payments, Causing Problems for Veterans and Students Across Northern Michigan

“It’s frustrating that when we make a promise to our country, yet we feel like we are being failed.”

More problems at the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs have been uncovered.

Over the last several months, veterans nationwide have been forced to wait for their GI Bill benefits because of a technology issue.

Many vets rely on the GI bill to pay for college and often their housing.

“A couple months ago I missed a payment, I called and verified at the right time and it still didn’t go through,” MI Army National Guardsman Brendan Westenbarger, said.

Brendan Westenbarger signed up to serve his country, now a junior at Lake Superior State University, he knows first-hand the frustration of dealing with the VA.

“Got emails, saying you need to pay your tuition, it stresses you out because you are wondering if you are going to get paid, and if I can’t pay tuition, then I can’t enroll in the next semester,” Westenbarger, explained.

LSSU says they too have seen the impact of the VA’s issue and they take care of their veteran students however they can.

“We do a really good job making sure our veterans aren’t affected on the tuition and fees side, but unfortunately we don’t have any say when it comes to their housing, we do have a number of veterans who are affected by that,”

Like USMC Veteran and LSSU Senior Bill Mourufas.

“My payment was about 36 days past due,” Mourufas said about his housing stipend.

“It upsets me. When I was active duty you are expected to be anywhere in the world within 24 hours , boots on the ground ready to complete a mission  and when it comes time to pay veterans back for their service, it takes me 35 days to get a check in the mail,” Mourufas, said.

“Luckily my wife and I are both able to work so we were able to still pay our rent but for a lot of veterans and a lot of Americans that are only one or two checks away from being homeless themselves,” Mourufas, explained.

Most vets will tell you, something has to change.

“With all the issues we have and all the veterans who are struggling today there obviously needs to be some type of change,” Westenbarger, added.

Mourufas is a housing resource specialist offering support for homeless veterans and veterans families in Chippewa, Luce and Mackinac County, he asks any veteran struggling to reach out to the Community Action Agency at 906-632-3363.