Debt isn’t a part of the agreement when our soldiers sign up to put their lives on the line, but that’s what some of them are finding as they attempt to get an education:
Marine Chris Mazzocchi of Saddle Brook served in Iraq and decided to take advantage of the GI Bill to study criminal justice at Bergen Community College. He is entitled to a tuition reimbursement and a housing allowance of $2,033 per month, Staff Writer Patricia Alex reported, but wasn’t sent any money until an emergency check for $3,000 arrived in October.
Now, Mazzocchi has completed an entire semester of school and run up debt. In December, he had to borrow money from his family in order to make the rent.
But there are plenty of other veterans just trying to get an education that are struggling too:
Mazzocchi is not alone. Tuition payments were delayed for half of the 225 veterans currently attending BCC under the new GI Bill. Thankfully, the school will let the veterans sign up for the next semester and start school on Jan. 25. Veterans’ landlords, however, may not be so understanding.
And that’s the problem, your landlord doesn’t always care that the VA can’t process a check. It’s not the fault of the Veterans because this is a systemic problem. The VA has increased staffing and they’re trying to install an automated system, but for now the problems continue:
But currently, veterans are left with an inefficient bureaucracy that leaves many of them wanting for months on end. The formula the VA uses to calculate benefits is extremely complicated, and its technology is so antiquated it takes about 90 minutes to process each claim. The program is estimated to cost eventually $78 billion; so far, the department has paid out just $1 billion.
The Record of Bergen County had this close to their story:
Many credit the original GI Bill, which sent soldiers to school and helped pay their mortgages after they served in World War II, with helping create a postwar boom that buoyed our nation’s economy for a generation. The new GI Bill is well-intended and could prove a powerful investment in veterans and the nation’s ailing economy. But if the money doesn’t reach those who are entitled to it, it’s nothing more than a broken promise.
The government needs to get these problems figured out so we realize a return on that investment and stop apologizing for broken promises. The best intentions don’t mean anything if we bankrupt our veterans in the name of educating them.