The VA is lagging months behind in paying student veterans
Student veterans hired by the Department of Veterans Affairs to help fellow ex-service members transition into college have routinely waited four to six weeks — and, in one case, four months — for unpaid wages, prompting eviction worries and mounting debt, according to a survey of program members obtained by NBC News.
Ashley Metcalf, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan — and the student veteran who organized the survey of other VA “work-study” employees at 18 campuses — said he’s been living on credit cards since June and was forced to obtain an emergency loan because the VA has failed to compensate him for about 100 hours he’s logged in the VA program.
‘How can this happen? If I was working for McDonald’s and they said they’re not going to pay me for 10 weeks, I’d have a lawsuit,’ said Metcalf, an Air Force veteran now enrolled at the University of Colorado Denver.
A voicemail left Monday by NBC News with the VA media relations office was not returned. According to the VA website, the ‘work-study allowance’ is available through the post-9/11 GI Bill. Student veterans employed by the program earn the minimum wage from the VA for devoting hours to specified, on-campus jobs such as ‘providing assistance to veteran students with general inquiries about veteran benefits,’ the site says, adding: “VA will pay you each time you complete 50 hours of service.”
But Metcalf’s survey found VA work-study employees at five campuses who reported waiting one month to two months for payments — and a student in North Dakota who was not compensated for four months. (Among the 18 schools represented in the survey were Texas A&M, Florida State and the University of Kentucky). Survey participants also revealed that a number of student veterans have quit their work-study jobs due to the chronic payment delays, hamstringing veteran-services departments at some campuses.
Metcalf, who spent six years on active duty in the Air Force and another six as reservist, also has reached a career crossroads.
“I’m going back into the (Air Force) Reserves in January,” he said. “I can’t afford to not work. And even though it’s a requirement that I be a full-time student to stay on the GI Bill, I can’t afford to live like this.”
One only wonders, does Romney think these vets are “entitled” to their pay?