12 ON YOUR SIDE: Late G.I. payments - NBC12.com - Richmond, VA News

12 ON YOUR SIDE: Late G.I. payments

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

The G.I. bill is suppose to cover the cost of college and help with housing, but late payments have caused big problems for veterans who depend on the money for school and to live.

The Department of Veterans Affairs says it's working hard to get payments out to veterans. For those facing eviction or urgent financial needs, they want to hear from you.

Marine veteran Matthew Meyer has it better than many but says the late education benefits stressed him out.

Meyer is a student at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College studying electrical engineering. His educational benefits have been late before, but now he works. With family help, he pays out of pocket, reimbursing himself when his school money arrives.

"I'm behind on my car bill right now and a few of my credit card bills," said Meyer. "When I get paid from my job on Friday, I'm going to have to spend my money on those bills until I get this money."

Meyer joined the marines right after high school in 2007 and was honorably discharged in 2010.

"I got this [tattoo] when we got back from Iraq. This is my patriotic tattoo - an eagle wrapped in the American flag," said Meyer.

He wanted to deploy. He also wanted to go to college and believed the post 9-11 G.I. bill would make it possible. Meyer says he felt good his country was giving something back for his service.

"I was 19 when I deployed to Iraq. I turned 20 living in a tent on the Syrian border. I should get paid my $500 on time to get my books, you know," said Meyer.

The Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges it's overwhelmed, processing voluminous paperwork for thousands of military vets seeking higher education and training to improve their lives.

"Why are you not prepared for this, you know? You know how many people are going to submit the paperwork. What's the issue?" asked Meyer.

Online, some vets talk about the struggle to feed their families and how the late payments for tuition, books and housing are causing financial problems including eviction.

"They're telling them to call the homeless vet hotline for help. I'm like, 'I'm not homeless, why are you telling me. I'm trying to go to school and better my self. You are suppose to be offering stability for my life after I get out of the military.' It's really just screwing people's lives over a lot," said Meyer.

If you're a veteran and having a problem getting your educational benefits, call 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551).

Or visit http://gibill.va.gov/contact/.

Meantime, Matthew Meyer has received his stipend, about $2,300. The Department of Veterans Affairs sent two months worth of benefits, to make him current, since the payment was late.

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