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2WTK: Student Veterans Face Delays For Benefits

9:44 AM, Jun 4, 2013   |    comments
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Greensboro, NC -- When UNCG student and Marine Tavia Brightwell logs into her bank account, she sometimes sees not all of her Veteran Affairs benefits are there.

"I close my eyes and I'm like 'Lord, please let the money be there. Please let the money be there,'" she said. "Then it's just like, 'uhhh here we go again.'"

Tavia says she's supposed to receive $1,200 a month, but occasionally she'll only get about $200 at first.

"My rent is due, my car payment is due. What am I supposed to do?" she said.

The rest can take several days to deposit.

"I sat there for many of my classes, instead of writing notes, I'm sitting there writing a list of who I can borrow money from," Tavia said.

Read: Inspector Finds Veteran Claims Files Stacked On Cabinets In W-S

She's not alone. A Government Accountability Office audit reviewed by 2 Wants To Know says the VA has taken steps to reduce processing delays, but they're still about a third slower than target times. For new applications the target time is 23 days, but the actual average for last year was 31. For processing payments of current enrollees the target is 12 days, but the average was 17. While the delays might not seem like long, the audit says the waiting has such an impact, some veterans are considering dropping out of school.

Read: Winston-Salem VA Files: Processing Still Slow, But Improving

Even Senator Kay Hagan recognizes it as an issue - sending 2 Wants To Know this statement:

"Our veterans should not face unreasonable delays in accessing their hard-earned benefits. My office is ready to help any veteran who's been waiting to receive his or her GI Bill benefits to pursue higher education."

The VA responded to auditors citing overwhelming enrollment as the reason for delays. The organization also said they've made progress and are "on track to meet the fiscal year 2013 goals for processing timelines."

Tavia says she hasn't seen that yet. So for now, she's left wondering if her money's going to finally come through today.

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