Veterans trying to get a college education are having a tough time, due to an apparent backlog in claims processing from the Veterans Administration.
The Post 9/11 GI Bill helps veterans attend school full-time, by providing money on a monthly basis to help with everything from books to housing to food.
It allows veterans to focus on school, instead of working fulltime. Tom Andrews served two tours in the Iraq War, with the US Marine Corps. "What this provides is a steady income so [veterans] can focus on their studies and get acclimated to the real world," Andrews said.
He's enrolled in his second year at Cuyahoga Community College. He is studying computer programming and business, with the dream of opening his own IT company. "Something simple. Something to live off of," Andrews said. Andrews says he had no problem accessing the GI Bill money last year, but this year is a different story.
He has a letter from the Department of Veterans Affairs, saying he fulfills 100 percent of the qualifications, and should receive a$1089 each month, beginning September 1st, 2012.
It's now October, and Andrews is wondering where his benefits are. Channel 3 made calls to the VA offices in Cleveland and Washington D.C., but messages left on voicemail have not yet been returned.
Andrews is not alone in his frustration; on Facebook and Twitter, veterans are slamming the VA pages with the same complaints.
The Marine says he has friends who are veterans at other local colleges, also waiting on their money from the VA.
On social media, the VA has stated they have claims personnel working overtime to catch up on the backlog, which is taking an average of 32 days. "They should have the staffing required to do this. A better system to work this out," Andrews said of the VA's issue.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich's office contacted Tom Andrews Tuesday, and offered to help him get through red tape.